The Hungarian parliament has successfully ratified a package of laws as part of the government’s crackdown on “economic migrants” entering Hungary through the country’s southern border with Serbia, said Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár at his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon.
Hungary still refuses to provide asylum for refugees
Lázár said the comprehensive legal modifications to Hungary’s refugee policy and border protection laws were needed to address numerous technicalities presented by the government’s plans to build a 175-kilometer fence along the border with Serbia.
The minister believes the special changes to Hungary’s asylum-granting laws will help immigration authorities crack down on what the government thinks are systemic abuses to the country’s asylum request system.
The Fidesz-KDNP-dominated parliament adopted the package of laws despite a number of sharp criticisms from domestic and international human rights organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
More than 1 million citizens have responded to the government’s national consultation questionnaire on “immigration and terrorism”, Lázár said. Eighty 80 percent had been reviewed and the overwhelming of majority had shown that Hungarians wanted the government to take a hard stance against refugees arriving in the country.
The government announced in late June that it would extend the deadline to respond to the national consultation questionnaire to July 15. So far, according to the government’s estimates of the number returned, less than 15 percent of Hungarians have taken part.
Lázár said representatives of the Hungarian government would convene with European Union leaders to discuss an EU-wide system for the distribution of refugees.
Currently, he said, about 20,000 refugees would be returned to Hungary. Roughly 6,000 would be sent back from Germany and 3,000 from Austria.
“This is a disproportional and overwhelming burden for the Hungarian government,” Lázár said.
The minister told reporters that the government is demanding financial assistance from the EU to help cope with all the “economic migrants” in Hungary.
Big shake-up expected at the tax authority
The government is planning to push serious reforms through the tax authority in 2015, said Lázár. These reforms had absolutely nothing to do with the visa ban scandal of 2014 when the United States banned six Hungarian government officials, including tax authority chief Ildikó Vida, from entering the US due to corruption concerns.
Lázár said changes to Hungary’s tax system are necessary because the system is “problematic, causes headaches and puts the country at a disadvantage”.
The minister thinks the problem lies in how tax proceedings are carried out because taxpayers, both businesses and individuals, must constantly deal with administrative obstacles.
A new system would mean Hungary would also need new leadership at the tax authority.
“It’s no secret Prime Minister Orbán wants there to be serious changes at the tax authority,” Lázár said.
It was likely that top people would be replaced once the tax system was overhauled.
The announcement comes only days after revelations that mandatory on-line cash registers linking retailers to the tax authority resulted in a significant increase in revenues in 2014.