Orbán Augurs Economic Rebound From Q3
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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the return of consumer spending power, parallel with falling inflation, and improved economic competitiveness would result in an economic recovery from the third quarter in a weekly interview broadcast on public radio on Friday.
Orbán said 2023 had been "the year of thrashing inflation" and pointed to the success of government measures to bring CPI under 10% by year-end, including price caps, interest rate freezes, an online platform for monitoring food prices, and mandatory discounts at big supermarket chains.
He noted that the government had taken on the task of fighting inflation from the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) as the central bank's "pocketknife" was insufficient for felling the "huge tree" that rising consumer prices had become.
He said real wages would rise "perhaps in August, but certainly in September".
Orbán said the economy started to expand in the third quarter and GDP would continue to grow in the fourth quarter
He noted economic forecasts suggesting economic growth in Hungary "could easily be the biggest" in 2024 and said that Hungarian companies had "adapted well" to the energy crisis, improving efficiency and boosting the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy.
"This establishes the possibility...for 2024 to be the year of rehabilitating economic growth," he said.
Addressing a delay in transfers of Hungary's European Union funding over concerns the European Commission has aired over matters related to the rule of law, Orbán said Brussels was "dragging its feet".
He called questions the EC has put to Hungary over its judiciary, such as "Is there enough office space for judges?", "silly" and said the whole debate was now "absurd".
"Brussels owes us more than EUR 3 bln," he added.
Orbán suggested that the "bureaucrats in Brussels" were waiting for the outcome of Polish elections in October. "Brussels wants the Polish government to fall....They want a left-wing government in Poland....leaving Hungary to fend for itself," he said.
"If a conservative government takes power in Poland...both countries will always take each other's side and Brussels will have to yield ground," he added.
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