The Prime Minister said there is a high chance that the war will be prolonged, the year 2023 too “will be uncertain and full of anxiety,” “the war and its economic consequences will take their toll on the world”. The Hungarians will be left out of the war, but “we cannot entirely remove ourselves from its consequences” which include inflation and an economic crisis, he explained.
He underlined that “we will protect that which we pledged upon the formation of our government,” including pensions and full employment, and the budget will also protect the system of family grants and the reduction of household utility bills.
He said “today or tomorrow” he will be required to issue a decree containing the detailed rules relating to the reduction of household utility bills. This will lay down that some 100,000 small businesses will remain eligible for energy supply at a discount price, meaning for the protected household utility budget, he said.
He recalled that they had set up two funds within the budget: a defence fund in order to maintain the capability of defending Hungary and to make the army readily deployable should the need arise, and a fund for the protection of reduced household utility charges which will serve to protect the living standards of families.
He also said in the opinion of the ministers concerned with economic affairs, the price cap measures are reducing inflation by 5 to 6 per cent, meaning that if there were no caps on the prices of petrol, selected food products and household energy bills, inflation in Hungary would be around 15 to 16 per cent instead of the present 10 per cent. He indicated that he would like to extend the price caps in effect until 1 July; however, in this regard he will have to exercise caution, the ministers dealing with economic affairs will make a recommendation for the government.
He said everything depends on the war because if there is war, there is wartime inflation. “War brings destruction, inflation brings destruction. If there is peace, we will be able to phase out these measures swiftly; if the war continues, we won’t be able to phase them out, or only very slowly,” he said.
At the same time, he also warned that as long as the European Union continues to finance and extend the war, inflation, too, will rise.
“The simplest solution to breaking wartime inflation is peace,” Mr Orbán stressed, adding that at present the Hungarian government is almost the only one in the whole of Europe that – rather than talking about sanctions and war – keeps saying that we need peace.
He took the view that sooner or later the EU will have to change its strategy on this issue because if they carry on as they have done to date and also introduce an embargo on gas after the embargo on oil, they will destroy the entire European economy.
In his view, it is evident that there are business circles that have a vested interest in the war; they are symbolised by George Soros who openly advocates the prolongation of the war. “These are warmongers who want to make money on the war, and meanwhile the whole of Europe is going to rack and ruin,” he said.
The present extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures, and the EU must understand this, he stated in connection with the fact that a commissioner of the European Commission called upon Hungary in a letter to suspend the application of discriminatory petrol prices in relation to vehicles with foreign registrations.
Mr Orbán said they are asking the EU to realise that there is an extraordinary situation, to understand that in the countries situated closer to the war zone there may be a need for extraordinary measures, “including making a distinction between registrations and vehicles on a national basis”.
He said the entire European Union is based on the tenet that certain things are standardised and no distinction can be made on a national basis; “in peacetime, this is a beneficial and wise rule”.
However, “Brussels is situated further from the Ukrainian border than Hungary” and inflation is higher mostly in the European territories that are situated geographically closer to Ukraine, he said in continuation. There is an extraordinary situation at present, an extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures, and at times like this, we can and indeed we must depart from the general rules, he argued, adding that “we would not be able to protect the Hungarian people’s best interests otherwise”.
He said if there was no cap on the price of petrol, at present the price of petrol would be somewhere between HUF 700 and 900, and this rise would immediately have an effect on the prices of other products as well.
Regarding press reports that the Commission is planning to levy an import tariff on Russian oil transported via pipeline, the Prime Minister said he does not believe that they would want to redefine the agreement on the oil embargo subsequently with such rules.
He stressed that Hungary had “stood its ground” in the dispute about the oil embargo and had eventually achieved its goal. By contrast, the Left would have accepted the oil embargo, and so if the elections had had a different outcome, today petrol would cost between HUF 700 and 900, there would be no oil coming from Russia, they would have done away with the price caps and would not protect the reduction of household energy bills.
In the context of the extra profit or windfall tax, he highlighted that there is a war under way, and Hungarian families cannot be made to pay its price. Large companies must take on a greater share of the common burden than they usually do, but in two to three years’ time – depending on how long the war will last – they will see that the Hungarian economy as an economy with a renewed structure will be among the most competitive ones in Europe and they will again have access to new business opportunities.
The Prime Minister described EU commissioner for Europe’s green transition Frans Timmermans’s carbon tax proposal as a crazy idea, stressing that large polluters, rather than ordinary people must be made to pay for the green transition of the European economy.