Former finance minister Lajos Bokros appeared on ATV’s Straight Talk Tuesday evening to contest Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga claim that the government restructuring of the Hungarian economy was successful and created the necessary foundation for growth. The Movement for a Modern Hungary chairman says Hungary’s economy is not at all successful and that, in fact, it is falling farther and farther behind not only Western Europe but the other Visegrad member states.
He said that per capita GDP in Slovakia is now 30 percent higher than in Hungary, which he says is unprecedented, and that the Hungary would need to growth 5 percent annually for the next ten years in order to catch up with its neighbor to the north.
The 3 percent growth since 2013 Varga has been talking about is really 2-2.5 percent says Bokros, pointing out that the economies of the Czech Republic, Poland, and the Baltic States are all growing faster than Hungary’s.
Bokros disputes the notion that the second Orbán government needed to reform the economy it inherited from Gordon Bajnai, claiming the austerity measures and structural reforms introduced after the country nearly went bust in October 2008 could have served as the basis for later “sustainable, balanced, export driven economic growth” had they not been dismantled in 2010 upon Fidesz’s return to power.
Bokros points out the difference between a government restructuring an economy and the restructuring that is the result of spontaneous, independent social and economic processes that create prosperity which the government can only assist through its actions by incentivizing investors and entrepreneurs to take steps contributing to achieving the government’s objectives.
“It is not the government that creates prosperity, and it is not the government that creates projects or even workplaces” says the former finance minister. In his opinion, Fidesz supporters are greatly disappointed because they think everything depends on the government and that the government creates prosperity. But this is not the way it works in a market economy, especially in a small and open EU economy that depends on what happens abroad, says the former finance minister.
He said Fidesz had failed to create even a fraction of the 1 million new jobs promised when returning to power in 2010, and that “full employment” does not exist. He says the real question is how many jobs are created by the Hungarian economy. He says Mihály’s claim that unemployment is at 5 percent is a lie, especially after adjusting for people engaged in public work and those working abroad.
He says the public employment schemes into which the government is pouring hundreds of billions of forints are not sustainable, value-added workplaces that create prosperity.
“There are trades at home that are experiencing serious labor shortages. On the other hand, there are a million practically unemployable people, which means there is structural unemployment. The reason for this is that education, health care, and government administration do not nurture the public confidence that is needed in order for investments to take place that would ensure the employment of that work force” says the Bokros.
The Movement for a Modern Hungary chairman said Hungary’s prime minister was the only EU head of government that thinks everybody living in the EU is “stupid, self-destructive and working for the collapse of the West”. He says the EU precisely knows what needs to be done in order to strengthen economic growth and social solidarity, and that the greatest obstacle to this unity was “primitive, inward looking, nationalist demagoguery . . . that Viktor Orbán represents in his person which has even proven too much for the Czech and Slovak prime ministers.”
“Even they have declared that who underminds EU unity does damage to Europe’s future: it is precisely Orbán who promotes the deterioration so offensive to others.”