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Hungary's Bokros says would assume role of PM on one condition

Lajos Bokros, Hungary's former Finance Minister and the father of an aggressive but inevitable austerity package in 1995, said he would assume the position of Prime Minister if he was allowed to execute his own adjustment programme.

Bokros, who is currently Chief Operating Officer and professor of the Central European University (CEU), also said the country is in a political and moral crisis in respect of the fact that the governments which had been overspending and pushed the country into indebtedness can hardly ask for sacrifices from the people. In an interview with weekly Heti Válasz, the former World Bank Director reiterated that Hungary needed a multi-insurance model in healthcare a market-based higher education and sweeping reforms in the pension regime. With regards to the pension system Bokros said it could not be allow leaving one third of the population wrapped in cotton and let the working people carry all burden. The current system even encourages people to withdraw from the labour market via early or disability retirement, he added. With respect to the tax cut plans of main opposition party Fidesz, Bokros said taxes would need to be reduced but that it could not be done without holding back spending more than presently. At a conference of the central bank (NBH) Bokros said on Wednesday that what is currently hanging over Hungary is not the threat of bankruptcy or a financial crisis but the shadow of falling behind. Growth is hampered by Hungary's huge twin deficit and the fiscal adjustment package will make Hungary the slowest growing emerging market next year, he added. Bokros stressed the importance of structural reforms and pointed out the quality and availability of public services have been eroding, which undermines social solidarity. “We are in a vicious circle since this is undermining the moral to assume public burdens, inspires for tax evasion and creates a hot-bed for corruption, therefore it leads directly to a cultural and civilizational decay” Bokros said. (portfolio.hu)