Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Hungarian PM announces plan to fight population decline

10 Feb 2019, 23:02 ( 2 Months ago) | updated: 10 Feb 2019, 23:54 ( 2 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual speech in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 10, 2019.(Xinhua/Attila Volgyi).

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced here on Sunday in his annual speech a bold seven-point action plan on helping families with children in order to tackle population decline.

According to Orban, whose speech has been broadcast by public television channel M1, the first point of his plan is to support young couples, with each woman under 40 years old to receive a loan of 10 million forints (around 35,000 U.S. dollars). After giving birth to three children, the loan would not have to be paid back, and would become a non-refundable support.

The second point aims to expand the beneficiary state-credit scheme set up by the government to help young couples acquire their first apartment.

The third point deals with mortgages. The government vows to pay one million forints of the parents' mortgage after the birth of a second child, and 4 million forints after the birth of a third child.

The fourth point might be the biggest incentive for larger families. Women giving birth to four children will be exempted for life from the payment of personal income taxes.

Orban also announced to launch a large family car purchase program. Accordingly, the government will give 2.5 million forints as a non-refundable grant to new 7-seat cars for families with at least three children.

In order to help moms get back to the labor market, Orban promised 21,000 new places in nurseries in the coming three years. Thus, from 2022 onwards, all parents would be able to bring their children to the nursery.

In his last point, Orban presented a child support subsidy payable for grandparents, encouraging them to help families in raising the children.

The demographic decline of Hungary, with its population dropping below the psychological threshold of 10 million people a few years ago and decreasing each year by several tens of thousands, is the main challenge for the head of government, who was elected last April to the third term in power.

Orban also praised Hungary's economic growth and performance. "Our national pride also has an economic foundation: Hungary is only at the 88th place among the world's countries in terms of population, but the 34th in terms of exports."

"In order to catch up with Western Europe, our economic growth has to surpass that of the EU (European Union) average by at least 2 percent each year," he added.

Hungary's gross domestic product in 2018 will be published in March, but experts already know from preliminary figures that it will be comfortably over 4 percent.

The prime minister also touched upon migration, which his government is fiercely opposed to. "We see the emergence of a Christian-Muslim world in immigrant countries with a constantly shrinking Christian ratio. However, we Central Europeans still have our own future."

Orban repeatedly declared that division in the 28-member EU is increasing over migration-related issues.