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UPDATED: Hungary PM launches election campaign with big tax refund for families

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Hungary’s government will refund $2 billion of income tax to families in early 2022, and also plans a big hike in the minimum wage, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told parliament’s opening session on Monday.

Orban, who next year faces an election that is shaping up as a competitive race for the first time in a decade, said the economy’s sharp rebound from the pandemic provided room in the budget for the measures.

He said the economy was set to grow more than 5.5% this year, and that there was already a shortage of labour.

The government will issue the tax refunds to all families next February. The payments will be capped at the level of income tax paid by someone earning the average wage.

“In total, the tax authority will refund 600 billion forints to 1.9 million parents,” Orban told parliament.

Orban also reiterated that an exemption from personal income tax for those under 25 will come into force next year.

Pensioners will also get an extra payment due to rising inflation, Orban said.

He flagged a hike in the minimum wage to 200,000 forints from 167,400 forints currently, saying that talks with employers were under way and that there was a “good chance” of an agreement.

Orban, who has grown increasingly radical on social policy to protect what he says are traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, reaffirmed his support for a law that EU leaders say discriminates against gay and transgender people and goes against EU values.

The law, passed in June, bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s.

“We do not allow room for any kind of sexual propaganda targeted at children,” Orban said.

Photo – Hungarian Prime Minister and President of Fidesz Viktor Orban . EPA-EFE/Zsolt Szigetvary

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