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Economy Minister pins great hopes on talks with IMF and EU

National Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy said on Thursday that the government has placed great hope in its talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) on a financial-assistance package for Hungary.

Talks will start in the first with the IMF and the EU will start in the first half of January, he told a press conference on Thursday.

Mr Matolcsy said that Hungary continues to need a financial safety net, adding that the government intends to negotiate about a precautionary credit line with the IMF and EU.

In response to a question regarding S&P’s Wednesday-evening downgrade of Hungary’s long-term credit status, Mr Matolcsy characterized the move as a politically motivated attack, remarking that although Hungary’s degree of financial vulnerability is high, its economic fundamentals are strong.

Asked if the government’s central bank bill may have been one reason for S&P to issue its downgrade, Mr Matolcsy responded "If that was the true reason, then why didn’t they wait until the vote on the central bank bill?"

The economy minister added that Parliament will vote on a central bank bill that will recognize the European Central Bank’s opinion and suggestions.