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Hungary plans 2.5 per cent GDP growth

February 10th, 2017

Commentators disagree sharply on Hungary’s economic growth potential.

In Magyar Idők, Gergely Kiss praises the government’s efforts to increase wages. Although Hungary has been less impacted by emigration than other post-communist states in the region, the pro-government columnist writes, its economic growth prospects are jeopardised by the shortage of labour. Real income levels may encourage more Hungarians to find jobs in their own country, Kiss thinks.

In Magyar Hírlap, Csaba Szajlai acknowledges that the Orbán government has successfully stabilized the budget and reduced external debt. By recovering from the ‘original sin’ of borrowing in foreign currency, Hungary convinced the major credit rating companies to move back its sovereign debt to investment grade.

The Hungarian government should do more to help Hungary’s poor rural Roma population to find access to proper employment, Judit Doros writes in Népszava. The left-wing columnist finds it controversial that the government launched a guest worker program to attract Ukrainian workers to fill vacant jobs, while many Hungarian Roma ‘are employed like slaves in the government’s public work programs’.

Magyar Nemzet’s Péter Hajdú is sceptical about Hungary’s growth prospects. The independent conservative pundit dismisses as unrealistic an earlier statement by János Lázár, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office who put the country’s growth potential at 5 per cent in 2017. Kiss contends that EU structural subsidies can temporarily boost Hungarian economic output, but steady growth would require higher levels of investment.

US President Trump’s protectionism may severely impact Hungarian economic prospects, investment banker Attila Gyurcsik cautions on Index. If President Trump introduces tariffs on imported goods, German automobile factories in Hungary will inevitably face hard times, Gyurcsik fears.

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