Today I will look at some of Jobbik's proposals and their feasibility. Let's stick with the crucial field of economics.
In subchapter III.1.1 Jobbik proposes renationalizing "strategic" companies, meaning public works and "natural monopolies." (My question is how can that be done? The owners of these companies must be compensated. But from what? Where will the money come from? What kind of international complications will arise from such a move?) The next "promise" is more than puzzling: Jobbik will enact legisation that will allow for severe punishment for those "who cause damage to national property." In fact, such people might spend the rest of their lives in jail. (What can be considered "causing damage"? There is a suspicious resemblance here to the Chinese practice.) Jobbik will also spend a considerable amount of money to prop up "strategic" factories close to bankruptcy. It is not clear whether these companies will be state-owned or in private hands. (The question again: where will the money come from?) And finally, if it depended on Jobbik, the state itself would start enterprises "for the sake of optimal economic development." (Same old question about the source of funding.)
In subchapter III.1.2 Jobbik promises a huge tax cut. The hope is that within a relatively short time that move will result in larger revenues. Reduced payroll taxes will produce a greater number of employees and therefore larger revenues. (As we know life is not so simple. If there is no demand, there is no need for added employees.) They will severely punish tax evasion, I don't know how.
I already alluded to Jobbik's idea in subchapter III.1.3 of renegotiating foreign loans and defaulting on part of the national debt. However, in addition, Jobbik has other, rather vague ideas. They will achieve a balanced budget, except they neglect to tell us how they will be able to do this. They want to pass a law that would forbid borrowing money for operational expenses. But to enact any such law would mean changing the constitution, and it is unlikely that Jobbik would have the two-thirds majority necessary to do that. At least this idea, viewed broadly, seems to have some merit. In Poland there is a law that puts a cap on borrowing, something that Lajos Bokros, prime minister designate of MDF, is proposing.
In subchapter III.1.4 Jobbik outlines a more rational, streamlined central government. They want to change the paper-based bureaucracy to an electronic one. The program admits that Jobbik's plans include a decrease in personnel but they promise a better, more effective administration. There is nothing new in this. Ever since 2006 the central government's expenses have been greatly reduced and several thousands of employees were let go. They plan to save a lot of money by using OSS (Operational Support System) software. This would be unlikely to result in substantial savings in the operation of a sizeable administration.
I am skipping III.1.5 because I already covered it yesterday when I was talking about turning eastward as far as Hungary's trade relations are concerned.
Subchapter III.6, on the other hand, is of some interest because here the program outlines the possible sectors where Hungary could excel. With state support they will revive Hungarian agriculture and the food industry based on it. I might mention that at the moment Hungarian agriculture, in spite of favorable natural conditions, is not efficient because of the small farming plots. Jobbik insists on keeping it this way. So how could they revive the processing industry given this inefficient agricultural structure? How can this revived food industry compete with cheaper foreign products? Or perhaps Jobbik is trying to stop the flow of foreign goods into Hungary? Because otherwise money spent on the revival of the food industry would for the most part be wasted. In addition to food and agriculture, tourism is emphasized. Again, this is not new. All Hungarian governments consider tourism a critical part of the economy. Jobbik specifically talks about gastro- and wine-tourism. Unfortunately most Hungarian wines aren't world renowned, so it would be difficult to develop a substantial tourism business based on them. As for gastronomy I understand that there are very few hotels and restaurants up to the challenge of foreign competition.
Subchapter III.1.7 deals with the assistance that would be given to "domestic enterprises." The emphasis here is naturally on "domestic." In the case of small and medium-size businesses, tax would be fixed at 30% that might mean a further reduction in state revenues. The interest rate would be greatly lowered. I assume that would mean stripping the Hungarian National Bank of its independence. It is also clear from the information given here that the government would establish a network of "Hungarian banks serving national interests." If I understand it correctly, these banks would provide "the sources for economic development." Where they would get the money is again not clear to me.
Subchapter III.1.8 deals with "Banking Network Committed to Hungarian Interests." From this one learns that at present there is only one Hungarian state-owned bank, the Magyar Fejlesztési Bank (Hungarian Investment Bank). Jobbik would reorganize this bank and create a new one called Magyar Bank. This bank would have an entirely new management that would serve the interest of the economic development of Hungary, not the interests of small groups. It seems that there would be still more money to support credit unions and savings banks in the hands of "ordinary Hungarians" (magyar kisemberek). This financial state assistance would enable these institutions to cover the whole country again. (I assume Jobbik has the old Postabank in mind here.) Those people who took out loans in foreign currencies should not be deprived of their homes. Who would pay the banks remains Jobbik's secret. Jobbik would force the banks to suspend payment for six to twelve months on any loan taken out for longer than three years. (And how would they do that? Or which bank would be willing to conduct business in a country where such things are forced upon them by the government? But perhaps that's the idea, but then what will happen to the fianancial situation in the country?) As for loans in foreign currencies this new Magyar Bank should provide low interest loans for those in trouble. With these loans they could pay off their debt in foreign currency. (Money, money, money.)
Subchapter III.1.9. deals with job creation. According to Jobbik, unemployment in the countryside will be solved by the revival of the processing and food industry and the rebounding agriculture. Emphasis will be placed on organic food. In addition, because Jobbik will reorganize the police force and "national defense" there will be plenty of opportunities for jobs in this sector. I'm especially puzzled by the reorganization of "national defense," i.e. the army. Right now there is a small, professional army of 40,000 men and women. What does Jobbik have in mind? This choice of the words, "national defense," makes me suspicious that Jobbik is planning to reintroduce conscription. Well, that would put a damper on Jobbik's popularity among the youth! As it is, maintenance of the Hungarian army is an expensive affair and the money currently spent is greatly resented by the population. People simply don't think the "nation is in danger." And if all that is not enough, they will greatly expand the public works program already in existence. (More money.)
Subchapter III.1.10 deals with a nationwide home building program. As we know, in the last few years an incredible number of apartments and houses were built, but they are mostly privately owned and are not rental properties. Jobbik is planning to launch the construction of a large number of apartments that would be built on central and local government money. (Again, where is the money coming from?) The building of these dwellings will be entrusted to Hungarian-owned small and middle-sized companies. Hmmm! Foreigners would be discriminated against? What would the European Union think of this, or perhaps by that time Hungary wouldn't even be part of the Union? "Hungarian families" would receive long-term, low interest loans with the help of state subsidies. (More money!)
Suchapter III.1.11 deals with the "strengthening of local economies." The local farmers will be able to sell their products straight to the consumers, bypassing the commercial chains. Well, I remember those days when practically the only place one could buy produce was at the local open markets held on Saturdays! Hard to imagine in the twenty-first century. More government money will also be given to those people who want to forge cooperative enterprises in order to sell their products more profitably. (More money!) The "social card," in the United States called food stamps, will be adopted nationwide. Again, this is not new. MDF also decided to support the plan originally proposed by the mayor of Monok.
Subchapter III.1.12 suggests starting a movement called "Chose the homegrown!" meaning Hungarian products. Those entrepreneurs who want to be part of this movement will be able to get a "vállalkozói magyarigazolvány" (a Hungarian business ID) that would enable them to put the adjective "Hungarian" in front of their businesses'names. The holders of the "social cards" should have an advantage in being able to use these outlets. If the Hungarian business ID turns out to be successful, Jobbik will introduce the same system in the neighboring countries. Hungarian entrepreneurs would be able to take advantage of the business ID's benefits. (I wonder what the Romanian and Slovak governments will think of the idea!)
Subchapter III.1.13 deals with corruption. All enterprises that received large state investments in the past must be investigated. All projects underway now should be suspended. Legal consequences in corruption cases should be made more severe. (This might be a good idea, but one needs to change the civic code and that is not an easy proposition.)
Subchapter III.1.14 takes a look at privatization. Again, all contracts between the Hungarian state and the new owners must be checked. If the authorities decide that the contract wasn't fair, "those responsible must be punished." (Can you imagine the abuse that would occur in such cases?) According to Jobbik, today state property/enterprise doesn't enjoy the same protection as private property. They will make sure that in the future state property will have equality with property in private hands. (I don't even know what they are talking about here.) Public works will be nationalized.
Subchapters III.1.15 and III.1.16 are about "Rethinking foreign companies' presence in Hungary." That sounds ominous, but it turns out to be a fairly meek attempt at "making Hungarian companies" more competitive and therefore "putting an end to the duality of the Hungarian economy." Jobbik admits that perhaps some foreign companies might depart because of the end of their privileged position but the program reassures the reader that "the places the multinational companies would vacate could be filled by Hungarian enterprises within months." Doesn't this "solution" resonate? I can think of at least two occasions in the twentieth century when such things happened.
I move on to subchapter III.1.18 that deals with taxation. Jobbik seems to believe in progressive taxation. In fact, it seems that while they want to lower taxes for those with lower income, the rich would pay much higher taxes than at present. Tax evasion will be severely punished. Jobbik would introduce family taxation, something Fidesz also proposes. Because they want to promote larger families they suggest no sales tax (VAT) on anything that is used by children from diapers to school supplies. (I wonder what will happen if an adult buys himself a pen or a pencil!)
And finally, here is III.1.20. "Monetary policy." That subchapter is short. With the drastic interest rate reduction the central budget's expenses can also be reduced. Lower interest rates will help to stimulate the economy, reduce inflation, and keep the trade balance favorable. (And one could ask what would happen then to the forint or foreign investment.)
As we can see Jobbik's economic ideas are unrealistic. No wonder that Lajos Bokros, even before the appearance of Jobbik's program, said that Jobbik's ideas would be the ruin of the country and that he wanted to have a television debate with Gábor Vona. Some people criticized Bokros, but he replied that Jobbik is a legally registered party, a party that received 15% of the votes at the EP elections, and therefore the people and especially the followers of Jobbik ought to know what the consequences of such an economic program would be. Needless to say, Vona has no intention of debating anyone. Especially not Lajos Bokros.