Minority government’s plans for the future?

Monday is a busy day for me so I often skip writing my blog. But today I’m making an exception and writing a short note because I don’t think that too many people even in Hungary noticed an article that appeared in a tabloid called Blikk. The article lists certain steps that Gyurcsány, his party, and his fellow ministers are allegedly planning to take after May 1. That is, after they most likely will form a minority government. Blikk doesn’t reveal its sources, so the accuracy of the article is questionable. However, I consider the alleged steps to be taken realistic under the circumstances. They would certainly help to speed economic growth.

Blikk claims that reform is proceeding with great speed. Twice a week Gyurcsány and his close associates get together to discuss the new government program: on Tuesdays the presidium of the party and on Fridays the heads of ministries. There are three parts to the program: the economy, health care, and social welfare. János Veres is in charge of the economic sphere, while the prime minister and people close to him are taking a new look at the already announced program of "Work, Knowledge, Property," which also addresses health care and social welfare.

Currently a new mother can stay at home with her baby for three years. She receives 75% of her former salary from the government. According to economists this generous stipend doesn’t make a noticeable difference in the birth rate which, like all other European countries, is very low. On the other hand, three years is a long time in the life of a career woman. Getting back to the work force is difficult, and if we talk about a professional woman, let’s say a doctor, three years away from her profession might mean the end of her career. Apparently the Gyurcsány government would like to offer an option for these women to receive the same amount of money but spread over two years instead of three. The economist Ádám Gere "finds this a very good idea. It will help the rate of employment."

The plan also addresses unemployment benefits. Currently for a certain period of time people get unemployment benefits even if they reject reasonable jobs offers. No more, it seems.

Other proposals are that hospitals would be treated as independent entities responsible for their own financial affairs. And that family doctors would not pay taxes–to my mind, a singularly unimaginative response to the referendum. (Gere commented: Family doctors already have tax-free income in the form of gratuities.)

As for tax reform, it is shelved at the moment given the international economic situation. The hope is that by September the situation will be better and perhaps then parliament can discuss the question of tax reform. Last night Ferenc Gyurcsány pretty well indicated that there will not be any tax reform soon.

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Adrian
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Am I spam?

Adrian
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thank god for that!

Viking
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I was spam

Viking
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I was stopped from posting by the spam-filter yesterday evening and this morning, but that is obviously history now. Maybe typepad.com was tinkering with the setup.

Adrian
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Eva, This being Hungary, maternity benefits are not so straightforward or so generous as you suggest. Employers are obliged to keep a new mother on their payrolls for up to 3 years after the birth of a child, which is very generous. But: the 75% of salary is only payable for the first 6 months of maternity leave, and is capped at 105,000 Ft per month net. This represented 40% of my wife’s salary: she had an administrative post at an multinational company. Between 6-24 months she again received the maximum payment of 69,000 Ft a month. Now she is receiving 27,000 Ft a month and this will continue indefinitely if she cannot return to work, because we have three children under 18. Her job however has gone anyway, the multinational company has moved to another country. To put the value of 27,000 Ft in perspective it is about what we spend per week on food for a family of 5; we eat minced beef not steak. There are numerous other benefits and sudsidies we receive but they are related to the number of children we have not my wife’s employment status. But Maternity pay is the most significant. It… Read more »
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