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Gov't experts propose trade-off to help distressed borrowers

Government experts have proposed reducing the bank levy if lenders ease conditions for distressed borrowers with foreign currency-denominated loans, daily Magyar Nemzet said on Friday without naming their source.

The details of the plan – which may not even come before the cabinet – are still being worked out, the paper said.

The National Economy Ministry said it had no knowledge of such a plan when asked by the paper.

Although Hungarian banks phased out foreign currency-denominated loans to retail clients in the summer, acting on a government initiative, about 71% of their retail lending stock is still denominated in foreign currency, fresh data from the National Bank of Hungary show. A weaker forint and high unemployment has raised the proportion of delinquent forex contracts within lending stock.

A moratorium on evictions by lenders introduced by Hungary's previous government last winter is set to end on April 15, 2011. The moratorium has been extended several times before.

Some experts say the end of the moratorium could affect as many as 100,000 properties.

Hungary's government introduced an extraordinary tax on financial sector companies this year that is key to achieving the country's general government deficit target. (MTI-Econews)