The telecom tax cannot be extended to the internet in its current form, the 2015 budget will take Hungary closer to full employment and Hungary’s secure gas supply is guaranteed, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.
Orban told public radio Kossuth that the tax bill currently in front of parliament needs to be amended.
The new tax on the internet cannot be introduced in its current form because “the debate has gone askew” and “a common basis is missing”, with the people seeing an internet tax where the government only wanted a technical amendment in order to extend the telecom tax. As the public now questions the rationale behind the whole thing, “under these circumstances nothing can be introduced,” the prime minister added.
The government must accept that the reasonability of every measure must be assessed and if the public not only opposes a measure but finds it unreasonable, then it should not be taken, Orban said.
“We are not Communists, we are not governing against the people but together with the people,” he added.
After the holidays, in mid-January, a national consultation will have to be launched on the internet, including its financial aspects, he said.
“It is necessary to find where the huge profit from internet services goes and whether parts of it could be kept in Hungary and channeled to the budget,” Orban said.
The government’s aim to make broadband internet available in every Hungarian home by 2020 is unchanged, he said. Agreements with the service providers have already been signed and the several hundred billion forint programme will “take Hungary to the vanguards of Europe”, he added.
The government earlier proposed a 150 forints per gigabyte tax on internet traffic payable by internet service providers. A modification to the tax bill would cap the tax at a monthly 700 forints for households and 5,000 forints for businesses.
Orban also said that next year’s budget will take the country closer to full employment. The goal is that there should be no need for income subsidies by the year 2018, he added.
There will be economic growth, unemployment will drop, more people will have jobs, families’ financial situation will improve and the government will protect pensions, Orban said in connection with next year’s projected economic indicators. However, he added that despite a further drop in public debt by the year’s end, it remains a problem that “we are spending more than what we earn” and so the cabinet has set the goal to stop overspending.
Orban called bringing banks to account the priority for the year to come. This is why criticism against Hungary is getting “thicker” these days, he said. On past occasions when interests were harmed, such as during the early repayment scheme and the utility fee cut scheme, criticism was also getting thicker, he added.
Commenting on the US entry ban, Orban said it is impossible to find defence against general accusations and it must be made clear that “we are expecting information on concrete cases.” Hungary maintains zero tolerance against corruption and everyone is obliged to report information on corruption to the authorities, he said.
“This would also oblige the Americans but it seems they do not keep to it,” he added.
Audits currently under way revealed US companies’ involvement in VAT fraud but it is not yet known how deeply they are involved and “whether they stand on the good side or the bad side” because the investigation is not yet completed, Orban said.
Thanks to a trilateral agreement signed between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia on winter gas supplies earlier today, it is now guaranteed that the Russia-Ukraine debate would not threaten energy supplies to Hungary, he said.
“We hope that this agreement will be long-lasting,” Orban said and added that Hungarian gas reserves were being filled at a good pace.
Commenting on the possibility of supplying gas to Serbia through Hungary, he said “we have enough gas to make some available even in case of trouble” so “the Serbs will not freeze”.