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Hungarian report Hungarian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-02-22 07:55:59
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Foreign Minister hopes for IMF talks to start in March

Hungary's foreign minister says he hopes formal negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on financial assistance for his country can start before the end of March. Hungary is seeking aid from the IMF and the European Union, but both creditors have said they won't begin talks until the independence of Hungary's central bank has been ensured.

Hungary's conservative government has come under fire for measures seen as asserting political control over the central bank, courts and other institutions. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said Tuesday in Prague that his country has responded to the EU and addressed "all the points which were raised." He said he believed the talks could be successfully concluded "in a relatively short period of time."


Employment falls 1.2% year over year in December

The number of people employed in Hungary at companies with a staff of at least five edged down 1.2pc to 2,663,100 in December from a year earlier, fresh data published by the Central Statistics Office (KSH) on Tuesday show. Employment numbers in the business sector inched down 0.3pc to 1,831,300 during the period. Employment numbers in the public sector were down 4.2pc at 725,800, the data show. For the full year of 2011, the number of employed slipped 0.4pc to 2,691,600. Employment numbers in the business sector were up 1.3pc at 1,851,300 but numbers in the public sector dipped 4.9pc to 734,600.

The number of full-time employees in the economy as a whole dropped 2.3pc to 2,355,400 in December from a year earlier but the number of part-time employees rose 8.0pc to 307,700. The number of full-time employees dropped 0.7pc to 1,626,900 in the business sector and was down 6.4pc at 654,000 in the public sector. The number of part-time employees in the business sector rose 3.7pc to 204,300 while the number jumped 21.0pc to 71,800 in the public sector.

For the full year, the number of full-time time employees in the economy as a whole fell 1.7pc to 2,372,800. The number was up 1.2pc at 1,651,200 in the business sector but fell 8.6pc to 647,800 in the public sector. The number of part-time employees was up 2.7pc at 200,200 in the business sector and climbed 36.2pc to 86,700 in the public sector. The number of Hungarians employed in public sector work programmes was 60,900 in December, down 16.1pc from a year earlier. The number of part-time participants in the programme rose 85.0pc to 26,400 during the period. The average number of part-time participants for the full year also more than doubled, explaining the big increase in overall part-time public sector workers.


Hungary faces EU deadline over loan package

Hungary is expected to promise to make changes to controversial new laws ahead of a European Union deadline, Irish Times reported. “We have a chance for good agreements,” the country’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said last Monday. “We have to fight, but with a level head and with an aim of reaching an agreement.”

Brussels gave Orban until last Friday to formally respond to its concerns over new laws governing Hungary’s central bank, judiciary and data protection system, or run the risk of facing legal action in the European Court of Justice. The EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have refused to start talks with Hungary on a requested € 15-20 billion credit line until doubts over the laws were resolved. Criticism of the legislation is part of wider concern over a new Hungarian constitution which opponents at home and abroad say places an inordinate amount of power in the hands of Orban and his allies – and even threatens the country’s democracy.

With a small ally, Fidesz controls two-thirds of Hungary’s parliament, allowing it to make sweeping changes to legislation and ignore opposition criticism if it wishes. The IMF has demanded “tangible steps” from Hungary before starting talks on a credit agreement, which Hungary needs to, reassure skittish financial markets of its solvency. Orban has slapped heavy windfall taxes on some economic sectors and nationalised private pension funds to improve finances. The EU’s experts have criticised the measures, however, and he has pledged to remove most of them by next year.

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