In his regular radio speech at public Kossuth station’s morning political show, 180 perc (180 minutes), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that “given the lack of common ground” with the population, he is not planning to introduce the proposed internet tax “in its present form”, but will hold so-called “national consultations” on the issue. “We need to get an answer to the question where the huge extra profit arising from the internet will be, and whether it wouldn’t be possible to keep part of it in Hungary and include it in the budget,” Orbán said.
He told radio listeners that he needed to amend original plans for the introduction of the tax, because “if people do not like a proposed bill, but they think it still makes sense, then we will introduce it. Yet if they do not like the bill, and say that it does not make any sense, then we are not allowed to do so. After all, we are not communists. We want to govern with the consent of the people.” The prime minister said that after the “national consultation” project, they would work out a way “so that our multi-billion forint project to set up broadband internet connection everywhere in the country could take effect”.
Orbán offered no explanation as to why his government waited until after submitting a bill to tax internet use to ask the opinion of the Hungarian people.
The morning announcement did not placate opponents, who have held two protest marches, with some calling his words a “clear deception” and others celebrating a rare victory during which they were able to impose their will on the government, and make Orbán “back away” from one of his personal ideas. The Facebook group “A Hundred Thousand against the internet tax” announced a protest for 6 pm on Friday to offer conclusions and set out new goals for the movement.
Commenting on other key issues during the radio program, Orbán repeated his original defence in the United States travel ban case, saying the Hungarian government is still waiting for solid evidence from the US government as to the identity of the persons in the scandal. On Fidesz’s plans to levy additional taxes on services and the banking system, he said that because of “discontent from banks and corporations against our policies we will face a lot of opposition the rest of the year”.
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