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Ruminations on Hungary’s economic challenges

September 23rd, 2016

A left-wing sociologist thinks that the government has failed to improve welfare in Hungary. A pro-government economist contends that the Orbán government has been successful in boosting the economy and faces only ‘minor challenges’.

In Népszava, Zsuzsa Ferge claims that the government has not been successful in improving welfare in the country. The left-wing sociologist acknowledges that between 2010 and 2015, employment increased with close to half a million new jobs, but this increase includes the 160,000 public workers and 130,000 Hungarians who found employment abroad. Ferge suggests furthermore that improving employment in itself is not a very good indicator of Hungary’s economic and social situation. As social benefits were cut and wages are very low, the number of families living in poverty has not decreased, Ferge writes. She suggests that in order to improve welfare, the government should increase the minimum wage.

Magyar Hírlap’s Csaba Szajlai thinks that the government has several instruments to address the shortage of manpower. The Orbán government has in the past boldly increased wages in the public sector, or it could boost job creation through cutting taxes, as hinted at by Finance Minister Varga (see BudaPost September 8), Szajlai contends. He acknowledges that the shortage of manpower is a challenge, but he thinks that it is a far more pleasant problem, which can be tackled much more easily, than the challenges the Orbán government had to face in 2010 – high unemployment and a suffocating public debt.

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