In his speech the Prime Minister said that for the Hungarian government providing credit for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is not a market transaction, but an affair of the utmost importance in terms of Hungary’s national strategy.
In 2015 two million people were working in SMEs, which represents 73 per cent of all workers, he pointed out, meaning that without SMEs there can be no Hungarian economy.
Mr. Orbán stressed that Hungary must not attribute its current economic achievements to external factors. The fact that the Hungarian economy is doing well today is not down to external assistance, but the players in the Hungarian economy. This is our own Hungarian achievement, which is attributable to our own efforts, he said.
He said that attributing the development of the Hungarian economy to EU grants is a “poor argument”, as the Hungarian budget amounts to HUF 18,000 billion, while EU grants only account for HUF 1,000–1,500 billion.
The Prime Minister recalled that in 2011, when the 150,000th Széchenyi Card was handed over, “winds were blowing from a different direction” and, regardless of their political views, many people may have had understandable doubts about the future success of the path chosen back then. Among the challenges faced by the country then, he mentioned avoidance of complete financial collapse, the control of sovereign debt and unemployment, and the battles that surrounded the new constitutional order.
The Prime Minister said that over the past six years the Hungarian economy has come a long way: “we have moved forward by almost an entire era in economic history, and we have determined that we chose the right solutions”.
Mr. Orbán also said that in Hungary the question of whether a country can make more economic progress through united action or “as a lone warrior” is still a matter of much debate.
Today, he said, we are celebrating the fact that there are eras enjoying all the conditions which permit the success of united efforts.
He pointed out that the core of his political philosophy is that “you can never be smart enough on your own”, and the Széchenyi Card stands as proof of this, because turning it into a viable arrangement meant that “a great deal of knowledge had to be gathered and aggregated”. The Government gathers knowledge on the financial system through the Central Bank, he said, while its knowledge on the real economy comes from the Chamber, and this will remain the case, because before every major economic decision the Government will continue to need the knowledge of both sources.
He noted that the Széchenyi Card is also “a sign of unorthodoxy”, and clearly shows that the search for unusual solutions is not a phenomenon confined to 2010.
The Prime Minister described it as an enormous achievement for the programme to have remained in place after 2002 and to have survived the following eight years.
He stated that most of the credit for the programme – as well as for the job protection action plan – should go to Sándor Demján. It was he who said that “at a time of crisis conformity is not mandatory”, and that there is scope for decisions which will not affect everyone in the same way.
Mr. Orbán went on to say that the banks were won over to the cause of the Széchenyi Card initiative, but it could not have worked without the Government’s support.
The Prime Minister said that in order to provide businesses with capital, there had been a need for programmes which were economically rational and socially just, in order to make the Hungarian economy competitive. One such solution was the Széchenyi Card, he noted: the programme is transparent, the conditions are clear, and it employs a method which society is able to embrace. He said that SMEs are responsible for generating more than half of total added value, but in the future their export capability will need to be boosted significantly.
He announced that in most of the Széchenyi Card Programme’s sections the maximum available credit line will be extended to HUF 100 million.
According to information from KAVOSZ Zrt., for overdrafts the available credit limit will also be increased, but, unlike the other facilities, subsidies for payment of interest will continue to be available only up to HUF 10 million.
At the end of his speech Mr. Orbán said that there is no desire to deny the need to be profit-centred in the economy, but while the Government should understand this mentality, the expectation is that it puts into practice a fundamentally “Hungarian-centred approach”. In closing the Prime Minister said that the Széchenyi Card is a successful combination of these two mentalities.