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GDP growth exceeds expectations

May 17th, 2014

A left-wing daily admits that the figure is impressive but notes that it is mostly due to multinational car manufacturers and EU funded construction projects. A pro-government daily ridicules the left for celebrating the EU and trying to explain away the upswing in the Hungarian economy.

Estimates by the Central Statistical Office put first quarter GDP growth at 3.5 per cent on a year on year basis, well above the expected 2.7 per cent. The CSO said construction and industrial production are the driving forces behind the upswing.

Bence Kriván in Népszabadság admits that the growth rate is impressive and welcome. Yet, he proceeds, it is due to multinational car manufacturers whose products are mostly exported, and to an unprecedented 20 per cent growth in construction that relies heavily on EU funded projects. He therefore “thanks” János Lázár who “opened the EU fund tap” and Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga who kept the deficit down. Kriván also hints that a new methodology introduced by the CSO shows a deeper decline for last year than previously calculated, thus making this year’s surge appear even steeper.

In Magyar Nemzet, Anna Szabó ridicules “fake leftist” commentators, who try to explain away such obvious success. She also quotes a slogan of the DK campaign, “Europe fares better” (a paraphrase of Viktor Orbán’s “Hungary fares better”) and points to the 0.9% EU growth rate also announced on Thursday.  Hungary could make it on her own, she argues, without any help from the IMF and without selling out state property as left-liberal governments have done. She also remarks that in the meantime, inflation is close to zero, SMEs can get cheap credit from the National Bank and employment has risen to over 4 million people in work. However, she warns, these are average figures and unemployment rates in certain regions of chronic underemployment have not changed. There is still a lot to be done, she concludes.

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