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Parliament approves 2009 budget bill

Hungary's parliament approved the 2009 budget bill evening by a vote of 209 in favor, 171 against and no abstentions. The 2009 budget lists revenue of HUF 8,300.2 billion, expenditures of HUF 8,961 billion and a deficit of HUF 660.8 billion. The budget contains general reserves of HUF 47.178 billion.

The pension fund contained in the 2009 budget lists both revenue and expenditures of HUF 2,999 billion.

The budget's healthcare fund contains revenue of HUF 1,408 billion and expenditures of HUF 1,417 billion, producing a deficit of HUF 8.8 billion.

The budget forecasts a deficit of 2.6% of GDP, below the Maastricht convergence criterion of 3%.

The revised 2009 budget adopted on Monday trimmed HUF 400 billion from the government expenditures listed in the original budget submitted in October, thus reducing the 2009 deficit by a further HUF 92 billion.

The budget forecasts a 1pc contraction in Hungary's GDP in 2009 as well as a 0.9% decline in investment and 3.1% fall in the consumption of households next year.

“It was not possible to preserve real wages, this very conservative forecast took a 2.7% decline into account,” Finance Minister János Veres said, adding that inflation is expected to fall to around 4.5% next year.

According to the earlier forcast of the ministry, consumer prices are expected to rise 6.5% in 2008.

Parliament voted on Monday to suspend until 2010 at the earliest the annual bonus which is equivalent to one monthly wage (the so-called 13th- month wage) for public-sector employees, with the exception of judges and employees of the state audit office (ÁSz). (MTI - Econews)