Govʼt to weigh Competitiveness Council proposals

Initiatives

The government will discuss a package of proposals approved by the National Competitiveness Council on Monday at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Finance Mihály Varga told journalists after the councilʼs meeting, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

The council, a body of business leaders and experts established to make recommendations to the government, held its inaugural meeting in the spring of last year.

Varga said proposals by the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Finance had been included in the package.

The proposals involve streamlining taxation, accelerating tax administration, supporting mothers on maternity leave, providing incentives for bringing inactive Hungarians and fostered workers back into the primary labor force, improving the environment for doing business in Hungary, and adjusting the education system to the needs of the economy, Varga added.

Altogether 30 proposals are contained in the package, among them concrete ones such as the construction of the M9 motorway which would divert east-west traffic away from the capital to the southwest of the country.

If the proposals are approved in their current form, they could add half a percentage point to GDP growth, Varga claimed. Important tasks related to boosting competitiveness remain, he added, including boosting the productivity of businesses and making the innovation system and public sector more efficient through the use of digital solutions.

Hungary needs a skills and competencies-oriented education system tailored to the needs of the economy, and the provision of basic healthcare must be strengthened, while improving and expanding preventative programs, the minister said.

Some of the proposals in the package specify officials in charge of executing changes and establish schedules for implementation.

Fielding a question, Varga said the aim is to reduce labor costs.

He added that a bond targeted at Hungarians saving for retirement could launch on the market next year.

Minister for Innovation and Technology Lászlo Palkovics said approval of the package of proposals could significantly improve the competitiveness of SMEs and raise spending on R&D to 1.8% of GDP by 2020. He added that business professionals ought to become more involved in education.

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