Hungary’s government has approved a support scheme for energy-intensive small and medium-sized businesses, Márton Nagy, the minister for economic development, said over the weekend. The scheme, which will run from Oct. 1 until the end of 2023, is aimed at supporting operating costs and investments, Nagy told a government press briefing. As regards the operating cost support, Nagy said the state will cover 50% of the increase in the electricity and gas bills of energy-intensive manufacturing SMEs. The government is also launching a programme to support investments aimed at improving energy efficiency, Nagy said. SMEs will receive a maximum 15% subsidy on their own resources in order to maintain their long-term competitiveness, he said. Meanwhile, Nagy said SMEs are being asked to keep at least 90% of their staff employed until the end of 2023.
The government on Saturday also discussed a scheme to save factories and a new job protection action plan, he said, adding that these will be finalised over the coming weeks. The scheme will support investments aimed at improving energy efficiency in large energy-intensive factories, he said. Nagy said the programme may affect about 10,000 small or medium-sized enterprises in 116 energy-intensive sectors. The government seeks to help SMEs remain viable and competitive even after the energy crisis and retain their workforce, he said. The minister said he had also supported the proposal for extending the price caps at the cabinet meeting, even though he maintained the position that these measures are not normal interventions in the market. He added, however, that the current market conditions are far from normal either as Hungary is amidst an energy crisis aggravated by sanctions, with inflation imposing a growing burden on families. Citing the central bank’s forecast, Nagy said the rate of inflation would continue to increase in the coming months and only start to decrease next year. In view of the coming winter, phasing out price caps would make no sense, Nagy said. He added, however, that “price caps will not stay with us forever, we must get rid of them sooner or later”. Meanwhile, he said the United States was one of the biggest winners of the sanctions imposed on Russia. The US price of gas is merely the sixth of the EU and Asian level, with the energy costs of US companies remaining by and large unchanged over the past year or two, he said.