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PM says mass immigration is a threat to growth

March 8th, 2018

As Prime Minister Orbán says that fast economic growth necessitates stopping migration into Hungary, pundits on Left and Right ponder if and how population movements may impact the Hungarian economy.

Addressing the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, Prime Minister Orbán praised the achievements of the Hungarian economy, adding that economic stabilization has been due to the government’s efforts to boost production and keep the deficit low. Mr Orbán opposed plans to standardize taxation in the EU. As for the prospects of the economy, the Prime Minister said that in order to maintain fast growth, Hungary needs to keep migrants out of the country. If Hungary manages to retain its sovereignty in terms of migration and economic policy, annual Hungarian GDP growth can remain at 4 per cent and employment rates can improve further, he suggested.

Magyar Hírlap’s Sándor Faggyas agrees with the Prime Minister in believing that mass immigration tends to slows down growth and destabilize governance. The pro-government columnist quotes statistics to show that the integration of each migrant may cost as much as 4,5 million Forints a year. If the EU introduced mandatory migrant redistribution with Hungary compelled to host 10,000 migrants, the Hungarian budget will have to shoulder the total cost of 450 billion Forints, he claims. Thus Faggyas believs PM Orbán is justified in claiming that migration needs to be stopped in order to maintain fast Hungarian economic growth.

In Népszava, Ferenc Dávid accuses the government of cherry-picking among the employment data. The economist who serves as Secretary General of VOSZ, an employer’s union representing mainly medium size enterprises, claims that the government’s employment statistics include public workers as well as many Hungarians who work abroad. If these workers were not included in the data, the employment rate would be much less impressive, Dávid believes. He adds that despite the low unemployment rate, outmigration has created a shortage of labor in several sectors including health care and other service sectors.

Liberal analyst and investment fund manager Viktor Zsiday thinks that Hungarian wages may continue to grow as much as 10-12 per cent year-on-year in the next 2-3 years. Zsiday, a regular critic of the government’s economic policies thinks that the National Bank and the government will do their best to increase consumption through higher wages. If these efforts are successful, migration trends can be reversed, and many of those Hungarians who left in the past years may be attracted back to Hungary by higher wages, Zsiday muses.

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