Justice Minister Judit Varga took part in a meeting of the National Judicial Council (OBT) on June 13 in which she made a surprising admission, writes Magyar Narancs. The OBT is a democratically-elected self-administrating body of Hungarian judges with the primary task of supervising the president of the National Court Office.
Typically state secretaries attend OBT meetings, writes the Hungarian weekly, but last month the Minister herself represented the ministry to report on the priorities of the new government and answer judges’ questions.
According to the meeting minutes on June 13, Varga stated that:
The budget was completely created with the entire European economic recession in mind, so there are very large austerity cuts in it.
The government has completely avoided using the word “austerity” (megszorítás) in its recent messaging. For example, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, responding to opposition criticism, said in Parliament on June 27 that “there is no austerity [plan] and there won’t be one.”
Mihály Varga has also repeatedly denied that the budget contained austerity cuts. On June 13, the very day that Judit Varga spoke about budget austerity with the OBT, the Finance Minister wrote a Facebook post decrying accusations of austerity by left-wing newspapers as “alarmist,” and claimed that “the Hungarian economy’s performance is getting stronger, employment is at peak levels, and there is less tax evasion, so we can expect more revenue despite constantly-decreasing taxes.”
After using the term “austerity,” the Minister of Justice said there was a great need to raise salaries for Ministry of Justice employees, but admitted there were no funds to do so, according to the minutes of the OBT meeting. [Magyar Narancs]