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.