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Hungary gov’t to submit reform package to Parliament before March 15, says PM

The Hungarian government plans to submit to Parliament a restructuring programme for the country before March 15, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a speech on Monday.

In a speech opening the spring session of Parliament, Orbán reiterated that the government would focus on the double task of reducing government debt and unemployment at the same time. This should be done without asking sacrifices from those who bore the burden in the past eight years (under the previous Socialist-led governments), the PM said referring to the "crisis" taxes levied on some economic sectors last year.

There is a need for constitutional guarantees to defend the interests of the Hungarian economy and "prevent a disruption of the economy as it happened in the past years", he said. Orbán recently said that a limit on state debt should be included in the new constitution.

The government will keep its promise to see that nobody is worse off because of tax changes introduced at the start of the year, Orbán said.

Orbán said action groups will be set up to check whether or not private sector companies abide by an agreement on the guaranteed minimum wage reached at a meeting of the National Interest Coordination Council late in 2010.

At the meeting, unions insisted a clause be added to the agreement promising employees' "real position" would remain unchanged in light of changes to taxes and contributions.

Orbán noted that the government took steps to top up wages for public sector workers who would have taken home less because of the tax changes and had mandated similar steps at majority state-owned companies.

Hungary introduced a 16% flat-rate personal income tax and eliminated many tax preferences from the start of 2011. (MTI-Econews)