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PM imposes windfall tax on ‘extra profits’

May 27th, 2022

A left-wing columnist believes the new exceptional powers under which the new taxes will be levied are motivated by an insatiable appetite for power, while his pro-government counterpart sees them as an attempt to serve social justice.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Wednesday that a windfall tax will be introduced for the rest of this year and 2023 on selected businesses to subsidise low utility tariffs amid soaring energy prices, and to fund extra defence spending. The new tax, he said, would be levied on banks, insurers, large retail chains, energy and trading companies, telecommunications companies, and airlines that have made extra profits over the past few years. The announcement came one day after the introduction of a war emergencywhich invested the government with special powers (see BudaPost, May 26).

In Népszava, Miklós Hargitai thinks that the government does not need special powers to cope with the problems caused by the war in Ukraine. If it empowers itself to rule by decree, it does so because its appetite for power is insatiable, he suggests. Thanks to the two thirds majority it has enjoyed in Parliament for over 12 years and the weak and divided opposition, it could easily put its ideas through Parliament, he continues. Hargitay believes that the government is enamoured with its special powers, acquired first in the migration emergency in 2015, then the Covid emergency in 2020, thus it introduced the ‘war emergency’ only a few days before the Covid one was due to expire.

In Magyar Nemzet, Gergely Kiss recalls how 25 per cent of Hungarian households struggled to pay their utility bills ten years ago, before the government decided to cut back utility tariffs. Those low tariffs are now in jeopardy, he continues, as a result of the sharp rise in energy prices which is further fuelled by the sanctions imposed on Russia. Meanwhile, the government is also increasing its defence budget year by year to meet the standards set by NATO. Kiss finds it only too fair for companies which he believes have reaped huge profits during the post-Covid recovery to take a share of the common burden.

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