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Interfax: Hungarian gov't will not soften austerity program despite better-than-expected deficit figures - PM

27.2.2007 16:55
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BUDAPEST. FEBRUARY 27. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - There will be no short-term loosening of Hungary's austerity program aimed at trimming the country's budget deficit despite better than expected progress, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Tuesday, while revealing that further measures may yet be introduced.

"I do not want to take any measure that could soften a process that has finally started to go the right way," Gyurcsany told a meeting of foreign journalists.

"We do not have the slightest intention of jeopardizing this process by any measure whatsoever. On the contrary we are thinking about what kind of measure we can introduce on an institutional level that will allow us to consolidate this process."

The Hungarian government introduced its austerity program last year. It included tax hikes and public sector wage freezes, designed to tackle the country's runaway budget deficit, which reached 8.6% of GDP in 2006 on a cash-flow basis.

However, recent data released by the Finance Ministry has shown that the government has overshot its own targets for reducing the deficit, prompting speculation that some of the unpopular measure may be softened.

Figures released by the Finance Ministry in January showed that budget deficit was 13% below target at HUF 196.1 bln, while the yearly target for 2007 has been lowered to 6.3% of GDP, from 6.6% earlier.

The prime minister added that there will be no softening of the measures before 2012.

ČTK

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