Mr Orbán said up to the average consumption, every Hungarian family will continue to have access to the reduced prices, and as a result, every Hungarian family will continue to save both on their electricity and gas bills compared with the market prices.
Today, thanks to the reduction of household energy bills, to the extent of the average consumption, a Hungarian family saves HUF 56,000 on their electricity bill and HUF 146,000 on their gas bill, the Prime Minister stressed.
He said last year the maintenance of the reduction of household energy bills cost the budget HUF 250 to 260 billion. However, up to the end of the year, the amount required to be topped up from the budget could exceed HUF 2,000 billion which the economy would be unable to produce.
He added that this year the present system can be safely maintained. The Prime Minister said October will be the dividing line as we will see then if the European economy will be dragged into a wartime economy.
He highlighted that the government had fixed preferential market prices for members of the public. The reason being to avoid a situation where service providers make a single forint of profit on the price of retail services.
Hungary will have enough gas, the Prime Minister stressed. He said in Hungary the problem is caused not by a shortage of gas, but its price. He added that Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó had for years urged the development of alternative procurement routes.
He said in the past few years, a route has been built from Turkey via Serbia capable of conveying a large quantity of gas, and today, a considerable proportion of Russian gas, too, is arriving in Hungary from there. Additionally, they are importing 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas from the LNG terminal in Croatia, they are increasing the exploitation of natural gas in Hungary, and the government is “bargaining” about the procurement of a further 700 million cubic metres of gas from Russia. “This will cover our needs,” Mr Orbán laid down.
The Prime Minister further said the government also wants to help people “to come off gas consumption” wherever this is possible.
Member of Parliament for Heves County László Horváth is working on the restarting of the blocks of the Mátra Power Plant that were previously shut down, while Gábor Riz is working as ministerial commissioner on the reopening of lignite mines in the vicinity of Ózd. There is a ban on the exportation of firewood, while forest farms are required to draw up plans for increasing their firewood production. At the same time, Minister for Technology and Industry László Palkovics was tasked with launching a stove and boiler programme.
As gas is an issue of sustenance, “it’s better for us to primarily rely on ourselves” in our procurement, it is not wise for Brussels to try and solve this problem, Mr Orbán said regarding the fact that the EU is trying to find a pan-European solution to the problem.
He added that his reading of the proposal relating to a 15 per cent cut in consumption is that the war strategy that rests on four pillars is not working. Meaning that the Ukrainian army reinformed with US training personnel can defeat Russia, that the sanctions will bring the Russians to their knees, that the sanctions will be manageable without an undue toll on people’s lives and that the world will be united on this issue.
At present, Europe is drifting towards a wartime economic situation, he stressed. The current strategy has failed, and therefore a new one must be invented, but there is a delay in its making. Instead, we have the reduction of consumption, he stated.
The Prime Minister said without a change to this strategy, from October we should expect a wartime economic situation in the whole of Europe.
In the absence of capacity, the present energy sources cannot be entirely replaced with alternative ones if there is no agreement with the Russians, and so the new strategy will have to focus on peace, he stressed. We must come to an agreement about the ceasefire and peace talks because the sanctions and weapons deliveries are not leading to a desired result. “You don’t try to extinguish fire with a flamethrower,” the Prime Minister observed.
The United States is playing a key role in all this as this is now a proxy war in which the West is already half involved. Security and stability can only be expected from a Russian-American agreement, he laid down.
Regarding the European economic crisis, he said the government has worked out a series of measures to ward off the imminent trouble. He said “we will fight against recession, against economic decline”. The government has therefore extended the reduction of VAT to five per cent on the construction of new homes which would have ended at the end of this year.
They saw that many people had “accelerated their home projects” and started making unnecessary haste in order to fit into the present tight deadline. There is no need for that because the government set up a cabinet tasked with the protection of economic growth, upon the recommendation of which they will continue to support the housing construction market – which is now slowing down – with the five per cent VAT, he highlighted.
The Prime Minister further said after an assessment of the damage caused by the drought, we can see that Hungary’s food supply is not in danger.
Mr Orbán stressed that Hungarian agriculture affected by drought continues to have the ability to supply ten million people with food. In fact, there will also be exports, but on a smaller scale than before. He added that while this will result in a loss of revenue for the Hungarian economy, our own supply is not in any danger.
The Prime Minister also spoke about the compensation of farmers. He said the agricultural mitigation and compensation fund has been exhausted; however, the government has set up a task force to help farmers. It will take another week or so before decisions are finalised, but farmers will receive further help, Mr Orbán said.