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Orbán backs ‘Google tax’ on tech firms at ITU conference

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Pushing an idea the press has dubbed a “Google tax”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today told the ITU Telecom World conference that foreign companies profiting from Hungary’s digital economy should contribute to the country. The conference, which opened in Budapest today, is run by a United Nations agency.

The prime minister delivers his speech at ITU Telecom World Conference today. (Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)

“Commitments are identical for everyone; that is why it is important that overseas corporations who make a profit from our digital economy should contribute to the growth of the sector,” the prime minister said, according to Hungarian online daily origo.hu.

The prime minister said the idea of taxing foreign digital firms was supported by respondents to InternetKon, a state-sponsored opinion survey that was conducted after thousands of people marched the streets protesting against a proposed internet tax.

Tamás Deutsch, the governmentʼs commissioner for the InternetKon “national consultation”, promoted the tax at Media Hungary’s conference in May in Siófok. At the time, Deutsch proposed an extraordinary levy on “multinational internet-based companies”, which has been referred to as the “Google tax”. Thus far, details of the tax have not been discussed.

At the conference today, Orbán said Hungarians would like to see affordable internet connections available for everyone, and added that this is the idea behind the Digital Hungary Program, which will bring broadband internet to every household by 2018.

According to Orbán, Hungarians find it important to focus on digitalization in education. He added that the support for Hungarian tech companies is important, and therefore, in the next five years, 8,000 companies in infocommunications will be supported with a total amount of HUF 130 bln in grants.

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