The government will support the Széchenyi Card scheme with 290 billion forints (EUR 712.6m) next year after receiving 130 billion this year, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Tuesday.
At an event celebrating the scheme’s 20th anniversary, Orbán said the doubling of support was not purely out of “good will” as interest rates “have increased and so has the subsidy on interest”. The prime minister said that since “a difficult year lies ahead of us”, the government may well have decided against investing “such a large amount in the subsidy” for the state scheme that provides cheap credit to businesses. In addition, 220 billion forints is being set aside in the budget for small and medium-sized firms whose operations are energy intensive, and a factory rescue scheme will also be announced, he said. The scheme aims to ensure there are successful Hungarian enterprises, Orbán said “because then Hungary will be a Hungarian country”. As well as large foreign companies, he added, there was a need for a “Hungarian entrepreneurial strand that’s broad, strong and stable”. Meanwhile, commenting on the war in Ukraine, the prime minister said countries that supplied weapons were drifting ever closer to war, while sanctions were shaking the European economy and stoking inflation. Orbán said it was good that Hungary was avoiding recession and staying out of war. “We can also be glad” that the aim to bring inflation down to the single digits by the end of 2023 is viable, he added. He also said the government was successfully protecting families from bearing the burden of huge energy bills.
The prime minister said the market was not sacred, and though it has laws, state intervention may be necessary in times of need. “We’re facing a year when the Hungarian economy won’t be successful without a strong and timely” state support, he said. Orbán said Europe’s entire industry was now threatened by the energy crisis and the bloc must work out a new economic structure. Commenting on the budget, he said that whereas the 2023 budget has been adopted, it must be adapted to the current situation in light of intervening developments. Between 2015 and 2021, Hungary outpaced EU growth, indicating the essential robust health of the Hungarian economy, he said. But the country is now weighed down by high energy prices, inflation and interest rates, he noted. Energy, Orbán said, was the hardest challenge, noting that every household received an energy subsidy of 180,000 forints each month. “It’s vital we maintain this support,” he said.