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Central Banker Matolcsy on FX loans and banks

December 24th, 2013

The leading left-wing daily accuses National Bank chief Matolcsy of compromising judicial independence and the rule of law by calling for retroactive legislation in order to abolish FX loans. A pro-government commentator welcomes the government’s efforts to strengthen Hungarian owned banks.

Over the past week, the Supreme Court (Kúria) has been repeatedly criticized by Fidesz dignitaries including PM Orbán for not declaring FX based mortgages null and void (see BudaPost December 18). On Sunday in an interview with the right-wing news channel Hír TV, National Bank chairman György Matolcsy called for retroactive legislation to solve the issue of FX loans. Mr. Matolcsy also said that in the next eighteen months, four of the eight major banks should close their branches in Hungary, but these banks have not been active creditors, he added.

Népszabadság in a front page editorial likens Mr. Matolcsy’s statements to a stand-up comedy show. The left-wing daily accuses Matolcsy of completely ignoring the principle of judicial independence and the constitutional ban on legislation with a retroactive effect. Népszabadság contends that such words from a National Bank head send a very bad message to investors.

The government has done a lot in order to help Hungarian owned banks, Tamás Nánási comments in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government columnist recalls that the government levied a surplus tax on banks, purchased the Takarékbank (Savings Bank) and offered cheap loans through the National Bank (see BudaPost Septemer 18, 2012). Such measures are important in strengthening the national economy, since foreign capital favours foreign investors rather than Hungarian entrepreneurs, Nánási believes. Some of the foreign banks want to close their Hungarian branches because the government has been giving priority to Hungarian investors and families over them. As the Hungarian economy seems to be growing again, there will be several competitors waiting to enter the Hungarian market if major banks leave, Nánási concludes.

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