Finance Minister: Hungary to devise economic protection program

While Hungarian economic growth is expected to remain strong, the cabinet will devise a protection program for the economy to offset potential negative effects from the global market, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said.

Economic growth in Hungary this year will likely exceed the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) recent forecast but it would be prudent for Hungary to devise a program to offset an expected slowdown of the global economy, Varga told national radio station MR1.

The OECD's recent forecast shows a 3.9 percent GDP growth for this year and 3.3 percent for 2020 - Varga said that international agencies regularly underestimate Hungarian economic performance but preparations for a global downturn should still be made. He said that for 2018, even the highest international forecasts only indicated a 3.5 percent growth, it eventually came in at 4.6-4.7 percent (the final data for 2018 will be available in March).

Varga said the main factors that led to a higher growth rate were domestic consumption and rising investments.

He said the government plans to devise measures to protect jobs, the growth rate of salaries, investments, domestic consumption and the real value of pensions.

Varga added that while the Hungarian labor market underwent a significant change over the past few years with unemployment falling to a historic low of 3.6 percent from about 12 percent (in 2011), the drawback was a workforce shortage in some sectors of the economy. He said Hungary does not plan to solve the issue through migration but by mobilizing the internal reserves of the country, such as involving those currently inactive.

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