Hungary plans export curbs on construction materials

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Hungary plans to impose export restrictions on construction materials from October to help rein in inflation in the sector, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

Orban said on Tuesday that surging raw material prices risked undermining a programme of 3 million forint ($10,000) home renovation grants for families, and that his government would need to step in.

“As of October, we have decided to impose export restrictions,” Orban told public radio on Friday.

Some of the price rises were due to increased exports of basic materials such as wood and steel, added Orban, who next year faces what is likely to be his first competitive parliamentary election since taking office in 2010.

Such an export ban would require approval from EU authorities in Brussels, with whom the Hungarian leader has clashed on a range of issues including immigration, minority rights and the rule of law.

He said his government would launch other, related measures, including export notifications, and Budapest was also trying to secure pre-emption rights on construction materials.

“We will try to keep these materials vital for the construction sector in Hungary,” Orban said.

Orban said his government would also levy a 90% tax on “extra profits” earned on certain construction materials, including gravel.

He said the tax would apply to prices above a certain level he did not specify and could be levied on other construction materials as well.

Orban also said companies with mining concessions would have to start production within a year or have their permits withdrawn.

Orban has promised a $2 billion income tax rebate for families based on securing economic growth in excess of 5.5% this year. Analysts in a Reuters poll last month projected 2021 growth at 6.6%. 

Photo: The building of the Hungarian Parliament with the National Flag in Budapest. EC Audiovisual Service