Hungarian PM announces generous family support scheme in big election drive

By bne IntelliNews May 28, 2017

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has outlined ambitious new family policies at the Budapest Demography Forum to challenge Hungary's falling demographics.The government's aim is to increase the number of child births by 30,000 per year by 2030.

In his opening speech, Orban said he was opposed to solving demographic issues by increasing migration and he lashed out at EU policies on migration: "The numbers in Hungary and in Europe show that a decisive turn is needed to boost birth rates. Parlance on migration is the prisoner of political correctness in Brussels and those who point to a connection between immigration and terrorism or to the cultural conflicts between immigrants and locals are stigmatised as being extremists," he said.

To encourage people to have more children, the government will now pay families HUF1mn (€3,253) of their mortgage after a third and subsequent child is born and will cancel half the debt of student loans of young people from families with two children and the entire debt of those from families with three or more children. Tax benefits to parents with at least two children will be raised and the state will build or renovate many nurseries to help boost the country's birth rate. Orban said that government would like to increase the number of children born per woman from 1.5 now to 2.1 by 2030.

The measures are estimated to cost an annual HUF100bn, but as the budget deficit remains comfortably below the 3% ceiling required by the EU, analysts said the plan is viable financially. Extending subsidies to families is also helping the government to shore up support ahead of the general election in the spring of 2018, they said.

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