The drafters of Hungary’s central budget for 2018 have not been influenced by the general election scheduled for next spring, government office chief János Lázár told daily Világgazdaság. The budget, to be submitted to parliament as early as April 26, focuses on the areas of employment, support for families and defence. The general election notwithstanding, the budget is going to be strict, with a view to reducing the government debt to 72% of GDP, he said. All ministries are going to have at least the same amount of funds as in 2017, Lázár said, and the country will also use its own resources for infrastructural development. In preparation for the next EU budgetary period starting in 2021 when Hungary’s EU subsidies are expected to change, the government earmarks 20% of the 2018 budget for development, he said.
Speaking of the main points of the budget, Lázár said that defence funds would go towards maintaining and further developing the police force, keeping illegal migration at bay and a comprehensive development plan for the military between 2020 and 2026. The latter includes the revival of the defence industry, he said. Thanks to the larger and better-equipped police force and other efforts, Lázár said, Hungary has already become a much safer country, and the government is committed to continuing on this path.
In the area of employment, Lázár said that centrally managed wage hikes would not increase the black and grey markets. They would, however, improve living standards and therefore stop Hungarians from seeking employment abroad, he said. The upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant will create 10,000 jobs and bring about a 1% GDP growth, Lázár said. It will not imply dependence on Russia, as fuel will remain procurable from a number of sources, he said. On the long run, Paks will cover half of the country’s energy needs. The other half will come from “green” sources, he said.