Hungary will devote a total 2,008 billion forints (€5.5 billion) into its pandemic defense measures and an economic recovery program, minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás announced on Saturday.
Following on last week’s announcement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that Hungary will devise a budget this year that will leave it with ample room to maneuver in both crisis management and economic recovery, Gulyás said the coronavirus defense fund will consist of 663 billion forints (€1.81 billion), while the economic recovery program will have a total of 1,345 billion forints (€3.68 billion).
The economic recovery program will aim to kick-start the economy, preserve jobs where possible and create new ones to replace the lost ones.
About three quarters of the funding for this program will come from cutting ministry budgets to the tune of 922 billion forints and also be complemented with 423 billion forints from the National Employment Fund.
As for the pandemic defense fund, part of it will come from an extra tax on banks (50 billion forints) and multinational retail chains (33 billion forints).
To the dismay of most municipalities, the car taxes collected by them — an important revenue stream for settlements — will also be channeled into the defense fund, as well as half of the state subsidies of political parties (1.2 billion forints).
Gulyás did not specify where the rest of the money for the defense fund will come from.
He also confirmed that healthcare workers will receive a one-off, 500,000-forint bonus.
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Hungary now at 744 (still the lowest among all countries in the Central European region), Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller warned on Sunday that Budapest may soon transition to the mass infection stage.
Budapest and Pest county have the highest number of cases, about two-thirds of the national total. So far, 43 people have died, 67 have been cured and 14,325 people are in mandatory home quarantine.
Title image: Workers unload medical equipment from China at the Budapest Airport on April 4, 2020. (MTI/Zoltán Máthé)