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UPDATE – NGTT aims to boost competitiveness, says PM

The most important aim of the National Economic and Social Council (NGTT), a body that replaces earlier forums for employers, unions and the government, is to create Europe's most competitive economic environment in Hungary by 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Tuesday.

The council must find ways to reduce state debt and the debts of families as well as to create more jobs, Orbán said, addressing the council's inaugural meeting in Parliament.

The NGTT replaces the National Interest Coordination Council (OET), the Economic and Social Council (GSZT) and the Economic Interest Coordination Forum (GEF), under legislation approved by Parliament in the summer. In addition to unions and employers, civil and scientific organisations and churches are also to be represented on the council. The NGTT will hold consultations, make proposals and advice, but will not take any decisions. The NGTT will be operated by the Minister of Public Administration and Justice.

Orban said the idea that only employers and unions had an opinion about labour issues had "led down the wrong road", and he welcomed the inclusion of the broader scope of participants in the NGTT.

The work of the NGTT has to start with everyday life, it has to take questions about real life and find real life answers, he said. He asked members of the government to get the most from the joint effort.

Even more important than the everyday questions that will cross the table of the NGTT is a question important to economic policy too: a change of view that restores honor to work and to physical labor, Orbán said.

Orbán again said he rejected any government policy based on austerity, that is, "taking money out of the economy without restructuring the economy to prevent making more and more austerity measures necessary in the future". Hungary does not need austerity, rather it needs rebuilding, restructuring and renewal, he added.