Hungary will be able to vaccinate 3.5 million more people by the end of May than an EU country of a similar size, the prime minister said at the first session of parliament this year. Viktor Orbán emphasized that the cabinet had not changed the protection measures since November, and this is how they managed to stop the spread of the virus. In countries that did otherwise and where measures were constantly changing, the third wave came to life with tremendous force, he remarked.
The PM pointed out that epidemic data show growth throughout Europe, including Hungary, presumably due to the more contagious variant of the virus. Therefore, it is necessary to extend the special status of the government.
There are five effective and safe vaccines already licensed in Hungary, which is the key to starting mass vaccination. He said that the country will have enough Russian vaccines in three months to vaccinate 1 million people. In the case of the Chinese vaccine, they have enough for 2.5 million people. The prime minister confirmed that as soon as there is enough vaccine, they will start to gradually ease the restrictions.
Regarding the economic situation, PM Orbán said that the government is focused on job protection, therefore a credit moratorium was introduced, companies in difficulty were helped with wage subsidies, half of wages were taken over in difficult sectors, the social contribution tax was waived and the business tax was halved. In total, 250,000 jobs were saved using some HUF 80 billion, and investment support was given to 1,434 enterprises, which helped to maintain and create 280,000 jobs.
He called the economic protection measures effective because the same number of people were working in December as before the epidemic and the unemployment rate was the third-lowest in the EU.
PM Orbán then talked about the various elements of the Action Plan to Reboot the Economy, including:
- reduction of the VAT on home construction to 5 percent
- housing renovation program
- wage subsidies for troubled businesses
- doctor pay increase
- 13th month pension
- PIT exemption for people under the age of 25
- interest-free loans for the smallest companies
The next step in the action plan is a large-scale investment support program, which will be co-financed with the EU. Plus, the country will implement its largest-ever university development plan with an investment of HUF 1.5-2 trillion, he said.