Hungary is ready for starting official negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union on financial assistance and news may arrive from the IMF any minute now that the talks can be started, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday. Commenting on the central bank law, Orban told public radio MR1 that the cabinet has no special interest in appointing a third deputy governor at the central bank before the mandate of the current management expires.
“We have a law that would enable this and we will not amend this law but we are happy to agree that no new deputy chairman will be appointed until the mandate of the current central bank management expires,” Orban said.
It has been confirmed that Hungary is keeping to its contract with the EU regarding the central bank and “we will take into consideration as far as we think it is justified” the recommendations of organisations that hold assessment rights, such as the European Central Bank. At the same time, the Hungarian parliament must not give up its sovereignty, he added.
“The National Bank of Hungary is part of the Hungarian financial system. Nobody can give orders to the NBH, not even the European Central Bank,” not to mention the government, Orban said.
The EU has already given green light to the start of official talks about financial assistance and it is now up to the IMF to decide when to start, Orban said.
Commenting on next year’s budget plan which was presented in parliament on Thursday, he said “a decent country” already knows mid-year the general framework under which its economy will operate in the year ahead.
“We have now entered the path that’s worth following,” Orban said in connection with the budget bill which will be submitted on Friday. Flexibility must be preserved and the significant reserves included in the budget draft also serve this aim, he added.
The prime minister said next year’s budget aims to create new jobs and reduce Hungary’s debt. At the same time, allocations must not be reduced in any particular field, he added.
The draft has not yet been debated by the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrats group but the main figures will be submitted today for approval before the end of the summer and will be finalised in September, he said.
Economic uncertainty in Europe means that the fluctuation of the forint should be expected to continue, Orban said, adding that this applies even to much stronger currencies than the forint.
He said the government had decided to cancel contracts for large investment projects carried out under public-private partnership (PPP).
“We will take out the state from these, and the people will get back the sports fields, halls and training pools, and we will operate them safely in the future,” he added.
A thorough debate will need to be held in Hungary in the next couple of years to decide whether it wants to join the euro zone, Orban said. He added that this was necessary because a strong trend of centralisation is under way in the euro zone and this significantly restricts national independence and sovereignty. The Hungarian government supports a Europe of individual nations and not the concept of an empire, he said.
“If Europe wants to stand on its own feet [...] it must take over control from the financial markets,” he said.
Commenting on President Janos Ader who has returned several laws to parliament because of precedural errors, Orban said all participants in Hungary’s public life must be prepared that Ader will insist on full compliance with regulations in legislation. He said he was pleased that Ader enforced all the rules in the legal system.