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Matolcsy calls Ecofin decision on funding suspension sensible

National Economy Minister György Matolcsy said European Union finance ministers took a "sensible" decision on a partial suspension of Hungary's Cohesion Fund allocation at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Matolcsy said the decision was sensible from the point of view of Hungary's national interests and European Union values.

Ecofin approved the European Commission's to suspend €495 million in Cohesion Fund allocations from Hungary from the start of 2013, but stressed that the suspension would be lifted at a meeting on June 22, if the country makes the fiscal adjustments necessary to bring its deficit under the 3% of GDP threshold.

Matolcsy confirmed that if Hungary makes the necessary adjustments, the suspension of the funding would be lifted.

He noted that at least two-thirds of the EU members represented at the meeting had supported Hungary's national interests. He added that the double standard by many used for Hungary before had been abandoned with the decision.

Matolcsy said the finance ministers acknowledged Hungary's achievements with regard to reducing its state debt, implementing tight fiscal policy, bringing economic growth over the EU average and expanding employment.

He said Hungary's updated Convergence Program, to be sent to Brussels in April, would prove Hungary's commitment to keeping the country's fiscal gap under the 3% threshold in 2012 and 2013. He added that all necessary measures would be included in the program.

Matolcsy said measures were outlined in the Széll Kálmán Plan that raise the implementation rate of the plan for this year from 83% over 100% as well as the rate for next year from 73% at present. He added that the government aimed, in the course of restructuring, to see reserves included in the budget.

"We have every chance to achieve the conditions we have set for ourselves," he said, noting the government targets for a general government deficit of 2.5% of GDP in 2012 and 2.2% in 2013 as well as a commitment to reduce state debt.

Answering a question, Matolcsy said the government was ready to start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union on a precautionary financial assistance package. He added that the Ecofin decision on Tuesday was "a step in the right direction" because it showed the government's strong commitment to a full-scale reform program.