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Hungary won't overspend on gas subsidies this year, Veres says

The Hungarian government will not overstep the amount it budgeted for natural gas price subsidies this year, Finance Minister János Veres said.

”Based on our current information, we can stay within the framework that we set in the 2007 budget,” Veres said in a press conference in Budapest today. The government is seeking to save Ft 48 billion by cutting the subsidies to Ft 112 billion this year, he said. Overall, Hungary aims to reduce the budget shortfall to 6.8% of GDP from about 10% last year. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány has raised taxes and cut subsidies on everything from natural gas to public transport and medicines. Hungary has cut the gas subsidies by tying them to income levels instead of the amounts used. Until today, 1.72 million households, or 58% of the total, have applied for the subsidy. The government estimates this amount to be about 85% of those entitled, said Minister for Social and Labor Affairs Péter Kiss.