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Gov't agrees to compromise over VAT

In a compromise at a National Interest council meeting yesterday, the government agreed with employers and unions to raise the middle rate of the value added tax by 2 points to 17% and the upper rate by 3 points to 23% from this autumn, instead of lifting the middle rate only to 20%, undersecretary at the Finance Ministry Tamás Katona announced yesterday. This comes only half a year after the upper rate was cut from 25% to 20% by the previous Socialist government.  The VAT compromise is expected to generate Ft 30 billion in extra revenues for the budget, said Katona, who, in return, will propose the government to scrap plans for raising social contributions of employees. Agreement was also reached to keep the so-called solidarity tax businesses have to pay into the Unemployment Fund unchanged at 1%. The ministry also agreed to exempt up to 0.8% of corporate revenue, or a daily average of Ft 300,000 from a planned 20% tax on double the amount of companies' average end-of-day stock of cash minus net cash payouts.