The head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, rejected the charge that once the state of emergency is rescinded, effective June 20, and a state of health emergency introduced, the government would still have more powers than usual and would govern by decree. He urged people to “read the letter of the law” rather than believe opposition politicians. The government will be able to ban certain events but this will not affect the right of assembly, he said. He added that the law will also allow the government to make decisions that are already in the chief medical officer’s sphere of authority such as ordering school closures and designating special shopping times for elderly people.
The state of health emergency, he added, would not allow any restrictions of basic rights. All claims about excessive government power were baseless, he insisted. The disaster management law will be amended to reflect experiences gained during the state of emergency and to ensure the government has effective means of action, he said.
Concerning the 2021 budget bill, Gulyás said there was still much uncertainty regarding the economic fallout of the epidemic, adding, at the same time, that the economy protection fund incorporated into the budget would promote job creation. The March employment figures were the “best ever”, Gulyás said, emphasising the importance of giving a chance to those who have lost their jobs due to the epidemic. The government has introduced state-funded training schemes, job creation programmes, expanded the fostered work scheme, cut payroll taxes, allocated an unprecedented amount of funding towards investments and reintroduced the 13th month pension, he said.
As regards local councils, Gulyás said the government viewed them as partners, and had therefore decided to increase state funding for them by 16 percent next year. The so-called solidarity tax they will have to pay is a redistribution of funds from richer local councils to poorer ones, he explained. Gulyás also expressed hope that as the state of emergency ends, the government would get a clearer picture of the amount of resources left and have funding available to spend on separate development projects.
Asked about the Italian foreign minister’s proposal for EU countries to reopen their internal borders on June 15, Gulyás said all governments were responsible for their own citizens. Hungary is now reopening its borders with countries that have similar infection rates. Italy is not one of those countries, he said, adding that the time was not right to lift travel restrictions to that country.
Concerning the 750 billion euro recovery package announced by the European Commission on Wednesday, Gulyás said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was scheduled to hold a number of talks on the matter on Thursday and would comment on the package in his Friday radio interview. The EU borrowing as a single entity is a new phase of the bloc’s integration agenda, Gulyás said, adding that the EU should think hard and consider the potential consequences of such a move before deciding whether this was a direction it wanted to go in.
On topic of the upcoming centenary of the Trianon Treaty, Gulyás said commemorative events will be allowed to go forward between June 3 and 7 according to a strict set of rules. President János Áder will address parliament’s commemoration of the anniversary on June 4, while the prime minister will speak at another event, he said. However, the inauguration of the Trianon memorial will be postponed, likely to the August 20 national holiday, Gulyás added. No other nation would have survived the “maiming” Hungary suffered under the post-WW1 treaty, he said, adding that Hungary was now stronger than at any point over the past century. Ethnic Hungarian communities have survived oppression, the policy for Hungarians beyond the border has been placed on new foundations, and relations between Hungary and ethnic Hungarians are more active, he said.