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No alternative

September 8th, 2011

Left wing commentators are extremely critical of the measures announced by the Prime Minister and the Economy Minister on Tuesday. The right wing daily Magyar Nemzet reminds readers that it was the previous Socialist governments which ran the country so deeply into debt.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has given details of the measures his government intends to employ to keep this year’s deficit below 3 per cent. Excise duties will be raised, public procurements halted, VAT proceeds will increase, and the state will spend 4 billion Euros from its reserves to cut 4 percentage points from public debt, bringing it to 73 per cent of GDP.

An independent conservative blog site, Véleményvezér (Opinion leader) calls cabinet minister Matolcsy’s plan totally unrealistic. “We cannot understand how a politician in his third term as state secretary or cabinet minister can indulge himself in this way,” – comments the young conservative blogger, on the minister’s plan to collect an extra 40 billion HUF in VAT revenues over the remaining months of 2011. “Vision and imagination are laudable qualities, but every government needs a determined and down-to-earth executive,” – comments the blogger.

These are carbon-copy measures of those used by previous governments: lawn mowing and the intensive use of the Inland Revenue Service. “These steps can barely be labelled systemic reforms,” – writes Népszabadság’s Zoltán F. Baka. Hi thinks what he calls “Orbán’s drastic measures” will not reassure the country even in the short term, let alone in the long run.

Népszava describes increasing excise taxes on diesel, gambling, alcohol and tobacco as “not too complicated, not too creative but rather simple and primitive.” Such solutions go back a thousand years and were normally used before, during or after wars – writes Zsolt Zsebesi in the left-wing daily. He calls the spending of 4 billion euros to trim 4 percentage points from the debt, a very conventional step.

We haven’t got too many alternatives comments Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government daily believes that the cabinet is communicating two important messages: Hungary is a reliable debtor and the Hungarian government is determined to leave the spiral of debt behind.  In her commentary in the daily, Anna Szabó does not fail to mention that the country ran into debt mostly under the previous Socialist governments. “Hungary is now paying a cruel price,” she continues, “in an extremely unfavourable international context, in which most Euro-zone countries are facing a double dip recession with no reserves left after years of crisis management.”

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