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Arguments over protectionism

July 8th, 2014

A conservative columnist argues in favour of economic protectionism and urges the government to introduce measures to support Hungarian companies. A left-wing pundit paints a grimmer picture and accuses the cabinet of corruption and incompetence.

In Népszava, Róbert Friss accuses the ruling party of favouritism towards its own acolytes under the pretext of national protectionism. He claims that the protectionist agricultural measures enforced by the government do not in fact favour local farmers, but the allies of the governing FIDESZ party. He cites the example of the businessman at the centre of a recent case of anthrax contamination. (Last week several inhabitants of Tiszafüred were diagnosed with a relatively mild form of anthrax poisoning after consuming illegally processed beef.) According to the left-wing columnist, the entrepreneur in question had no previous expertise in animal husbandry, and was able to lease state-owned land only because of his alleged ties to Sándor Fazekas, the Minister of Agriculture.

In Magyar Nemzet (print edition) Csaba Lukács urges more protectionism in public procurement. In Western Europe, he argues, it is quite normal for public procurement tenders to be won by local firms. In that part of the continent, governments talk about free market and multi-nationalism, but behind the scenes they are hard-core protectionists. In Hungary it is the other way around. Lukács examines the Hungarian construction industry, and gives examples of how, in its pursuit of low production costs, it relies on cheap imputs, low wages and tax evasion. He advises the government to consider the added value of Hungarian businesses to the community in terms of workplaces and the development of adjacent industries, rather than focusing exclusively on the price of investment projects

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