It is primarily “the Hungarian people’s wallets” that need to be spared from war inflation, government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi told public news channel M1 on Monday. Szentkirályi said there was a clear link between the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and high inflation, which was why the government had looked into how it can use its own tools to help people.
“We must prevent a situation where people are worse off, where businesses are in worse shape and where we risk the achievements that have allowed many people to have jobs and families to feel safe,” Szentkirályi said.
She also said she expected a “fierce battle” with Brussels when it came to the issue of sanctions. As a European Union member state, Hungary has an interest in agreeing on a joint European position, but this cannot supersede the government’s goal of representing the Hungarian people, she said. If the EU’s proposed sanctions are not good for Hungarians, the government will make that clear, Szentkirályi added. “If the original proposal for the oil embargo would have been equivalent to Europe shooting itself in the foot, the gas embargo would practically be akin to a shot in the lungs,” Szentkirályi said, arguing that European countries would not be able to properly substitute Russian gas imports. Concerning the taxes on extra profits introduced by the government, Szentkirályi said the measure had not been introduced for the businesses it applies to not to comply with it. She noted that the government could order a consumer protection review of any company that tries to transfer the extra burdens to consumers.
Meanwhile, Szentkirályi told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio that the closer a country is to the war, the higher inflation is there. Estonia is experiencing inflation of 20%, Latvia and Lithuania have seen their inflation rates exceed 16-18% and inflation is also higher in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, she said. Szentkirályi said the government had decided to extend price caps on food and petrol until October and the loan moratorium and cap on mortgage rates until the end of the year with a view to shielding Hungarians from the effects of war inflation.