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Hungary’s cash flow-based budget deficit reached 1,704 billion forints (EUR 4.3bn) at the end of February, the finance ministry confirmed in a detailed release of data. The central budget had a deficit of 1,759.5 billion forints at the end of the month and social security funds were 23.5 billion in the red, but separate state funds were 79 billion in the black. The budget had a 54.4 billion forint surplus in January. The ministry noted that revenue in February was “several hundred billion” forints lower than average because of VAT seasonality. It said that the fiscal impact of pension payments, including an annual bonus equivalent to a full month’s pension, had reached 1,041 billion forints in February, bringing pension payments for January-February to 1,420.7 billion. Interest expenditures, which included large payments on retail government securities, came to 855.4 billion forints, the ministry added. In addition to covering extraordinary expenditures, the budget has ensured the resources for protecting pensions and family subsidies as well as maintaining regulated household utilities prices, the ministry said. “The government’s most important aim is to gradually reduce the deficit and state debt,” it added. The government targets a deficit of 4.5% of GDP in 2024, 3.7% in 2025 and 2.9% in 2026, the ministry said. The full-year deficit target in the 2024 Budget Act is 2,514.8 billion forints. Finance Minister Mihály Varga said a week earlier that the government was drafting amendments to the act.