picture of press conference

The joint political opposition, Unity for Hungary, held a press conference Monday on Hungary’s public debt, highlighting that it now exceeds 80% of the country’s annual GDP. The six-party coalition was represented at the event by politicians from the Jobbik, Momentum, and Dialogue parties.

Anita Potocskáné Kőrösi spoke on behalf of Jobbik, who said that inflation had risen to unprecedented levels over the past ten years, that foreign trade and the balance of payments were deteriorating, and that the euro had never been so strong and the forint never so weak.

The reason for this, she said, was due to overspending by the Orbán government and massive corruption. At the same time, public debt has reached a record high, and the fact that both the Treasury and the Hungarian Nationaal Bank are blaming each other for this historic failure is not helping matters either.

In part, public debt keeps rising because the government has to borrow money to finance front men for its crooked deals, leaving citizens with the bill, she claimed.

Anita Potocskáné Kőrösi said that while the government promotes its belief that the country is “going forward and not backward,” it is in fact “going bankrupt and not forward.” By comparison, she pointed out that public debt in the Czech Republic is only 40% of the country’s GDP, while it is 60% in Poland and 70% in Slovakia.

Márton Illyés, vice-president of Momentum and an economic expert, said that the possibility of the government losing power has forced it to change the country’s tax and wage structures despite a lack of funds to pay for them. The government will have to finance these measures through running a deficit and adding to the public debt, which will eventually lead to introducing austerity measures.

We will free up funds from the EU that are currently on hold, launch a review of major investment projects, and clean up the public procurement process.

-said Illyés, citing Fudan University and the Budapest-Belgrade railway line investment project as examples in this regard.

Bence Tordai, deputy leader of Dialogue’s parliamentary caucus, said that the Orbán government had missed a chance to reduce the public debt when it took 3 trillion Ft. (US $9.49 billion) in the private pension funds away from Hungarians. Tordai believes that the 80% figure has been doctored, and that Hungary’s true public debt is closer to 100% of its annual GDP.

Tordai also criticized how the current crisis is being managed, noting that while other countries have provided substantial financial assistance to their citizens, Hungarians have only been given meager subsidies to supplement their lost income.

Money has not gone to the people, he stated, but used to feed the government’s clientele, “so that they can prepare for the next 4-8-12 years in the opposition, because they know that the Hungarians are not going to give them another chance.”

[444][Photo: Momentum Mozgalom / Facebook]

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By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.