Radio KarcFM talk about the NESC
Summary on the plenary session of April 20th, 2018
The plenary discussed two topics on its April 20th session: government support for housing projects and the operability of the state pension system.
The aim of government instruments supporting mobility by new housing projects is to meet the short term and long term demands of the population, and to ensure the necessary workforce for companies – István Lepsényi, state secretary for the economy and market regulation told at the plenary session of April 20th of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).
At the first meeting of 2018 of the NESC, held at the headquarters of the Hungarian Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the state secretary mentioned that the GDP growth in Hungary has exceeded that of the EU’s average, the unemployment rate is low, the wages have expressively increased and the real estate market as well as the building industry have been growing significantly. At the same time, he named the lack of work force as one of the obstacles of further increase of the economy. The unemployment rate varies in the Western and in the Eastern part of the country, therefore either jobs should be transported to the parts where there is sufficient workforce, or the other way around, we have to help the workforce being able to move to those areas where there are a lot of vacant jobs. He reminded the audience that the construction of new apartments has significantly increased, while in 2016 it provided 15% of the total building industry, in 2017 this rate was 25%. One fourth of the industry, HUF 2500 billion is connected to housing projects; the number of newly built housing estates doubled between 2016 and 2017.
The state secretary explained that the government supports housing mobility in different ways: one of them is the family home allowance program, whose part is the well-known CSOK (family allowance for buying/building a new home) as well the decrease of the VAT of newly built houses. As to the latter instrument, the state secretary mentioned that there are requests about prolonging this reduced rate.
The government introduced a special subsidy, with HUF 5 billion donation, supporting the construction of workers’ apartments and companies may also receive allowances if they build workers’ apartments or rental housing, they can deduct any related costs from their taxes. The state secretary named a few measures which support workforce mobility by housing projects, such as tax-free donations from the employer to be used for renting or paying a home, housing allowance requested at the county authority as well as a special income tax allowance to those who at the same time pay for and rent out an apartment.
József Mészáros, president of the Hungarian State Treasury said that the state pension system works well and relatively efficiently, old age poverty is much less in Hungary than the European average. He also mentioned that the real value of the pensions increase, and has been stable in the last few years. The president of the treasury directed the audience’s attention to the challenges as well, among them the demographic indicators. He emphasized: the whole of Europe is fighting against the decrease of the population, and though in Hungary, thanks to the government policy, fertility has increased since 2012, there is still a significant lack in the current birth rate. The question on how to compensate in the pension system those years spent at home raising small children, has also risen. József Mészáros also noted that in spite of the economic growth of the previous years, people generally do not start to invest in pension savings for their older age, which should be promptly dealt with.
(based on MTI)
The National Economic and Social Council discussed the impacts of the wage settlements
The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) held its last plenary session of 2017 on December 7th at the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The agenda started with consultations on the wage minimum and minimal wage, by the presentation of Péter Cseresnyés, state secretary for the labour market and training of the Ministry of Economy. Mr. Cseresnyés talked about the effects of the 6-year-long wage settlement and highlighted that the agreement, which was previously unprecedented, has had significant impact on the labour market. He was content to describe that the negative prognoses following the agreement on an unusually substantial wage increase have not proved true. The gross wage increase was, in all fields, significant, and on the lowest rates of pay, an important closing up of the wage gap has occurred, which is also very obvious with the small and medium size enterprises. He added that the wage increase was the greatest in blue collar worker jobs. The state secretary showed data which denied the allegations about some regions lagging behind despite the positive trends, since wages have grown the most exactly in the North-Plain and North-Hungarian Region. Today the employees are pressed to increase wages if they want to keep their employees.
Zoltán Szőke said that last year only a few hoped that the 6-year-long wage settlement would have positive effects. The speaker of the Side of Economy noted that with the wage increase the purchasing power also increased, therefore the wage increase could be implemented easily by the employers. He found it a very important and beneficial fact to have founded the so called pensioner-cooperatives, since in many sectors experienced workforce is needed.
Melinda Mészáros, speaker of the Side of Employees also greeted the wage agreements, in which the trade unions see many of their suggestions realized.
Robert Szendrei, from the Side of the NGOs, greeted the forward-looking economic decisions, such as the wage agreement form last year. The representative of the NGOs said that we have succeeded in leaving the poverty in wages, and whoever wants to work today, will find a job.
Gusztáv Báger, representative of the Side of Sciences said that the wage increase was a god decision and is supporting the outlined objectives.
In answering the specific questions of the Sides, Péter Cseresnyés said that it was an important objective to enhance efficiency and support technical as well as technological development. In obtaining these goals, the fine tuning of the vocational training is necessary, and those participating in it, need to have a better improvement of skills.
Richárd Adorján held a presentation on the role of the state in the employment and the wage level of the public sector. The deputy state secretary responsible for the national budget of the Ministry of Economy showed the plenary that due to the different career paths, in the public sector a significant wage increase occurred as well, especially in the health- and social sectors. He pointed out that the government’s objective was that no one in the public sector should earn less than before, therefore the wage compensation remained part of the system. In commenting the questions from the Sides, the deputy state secretary found it important that the different problems be known to this negotiating forum and be discussed and the government will make efforts to answer the upcoming questions and suggestions. At the same time he noted that government decisions can only be implemented without risking the budgetary balance, and special attention should be directed to the non-market-based peculiarities of the public sector.
At the end of the plenary session the Council – in relation to the agenda of its preceding plenary session -, adopted a declaration in the title of: “Our mutual responsibility: the health of the Hungarian citizens”, whereby diagnostic health screenings were emphasized. It promoted the participation of the most risky population in the screenings, and committed itself that in its internal communication it would also encourage the participation of the citizens in such health care programmes.
2017/3 session of The National Economic and Social Council
This year’s third plenary session of The National Economic and Social Council was held on the 11th of October in the celebration hall of the Theology Department at the Gáspár Károli University of the Reformed Church. The agenda covered the topical questions of national identities and organised national medical screenings.
The president of the Council, Attila Szücs, representing the churches, commented on the venue of the event: this was the first time that the Council held its plenary at a church institution, which, in the year when we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, bring attention to the great service the churches do for Hungary.
The host of the event, István Szabó, bishop of the Reformed Church, welcomed the guests. The first speaker was Zsolt Semjén, deputy prime minister of Hungary, who was speaking about Hungarian identity as the identity of those living inside and outside of the country. He emphasized that strong economic, diplomatic and political ties have to exist between Hungarians on the territory of Hungary and Hungarians living beyond the borders, both as our neighbour Hungarians or those living oversees as well. Since 2010, the government has allocated ten times more support to programmes aiming at reserving the national identity and today there is no question about the fact that besides moral and political support, today we have to give a financial backing to our fellow Hungarians as well. Zsolt Semjén called it an impressive result that there is an agreement among the political parties regarding the objectives of instruments of shaping the national identity.
Zoltán Zs. Szőke said it was a mutual interest and an obligation as well to support Hungarians living outside the borders. The representative of the Side of Economy approved the deputy prime-minister’s opinion that the basis of social success is economic success. Dr. Melinda Mészáros, representative of the Side of the Employees, welcomed the new topic of the session and suggested the introduction of a student exchange programme. Róbert Szendrei, representative of the Side of the NGOs, said that a substantial shift in attitude could only be seen after the change of the government in 2010. He said it was a significant development to integrate the responsibility towards all fellow Hungarians into the Constitution. Gusztáv Báger, representative of the Side of Sciences said the government’s policy is diverse and well-grounded.
In his response, the deputy prime-minister thanked all the comments of the Sides and answered the questions. Zsolt Semjén was confident that good relations with the neighbouring countries can serve as a basis for effectively supporting Hungarians living beyond the borders. Answering a question he assumed that there is a positive change in attitude in the Slovakian government. He also emphasized that he appreciates the non-governmental organisations active in the field, naming for example the organization called Rákóczi Szövetség, participating in the programme called “Without Frontiers”. Zsolt Semjén called the attention of the members of the Council, that in alleviating the severe lack of workforce in Hungary, Hungarian companies operating outside Hungary can be integrated in the effort. At the end of this debate, the Council unanimously voted for the Declaration of the National Economic and Social Council.
In the second half of the session, Tamás Szentes, deputy state secretary for national health care services, talked about nationwide heath care screenings. The objectives of these screenings are the prevention of chronic diseases and it is proved that by such nationwide screenings, many of the chronic diseases can be prevented. Therefore, besides developing our hospitals, the government has tripled the donations for nationwide health care services and medical screenings since 2010. But, unfortunately, the rate of participation at such screenings is still very low. The government, together with health care experts, is looking for positive incentives to be employed in getting the people participate in the screenings. Such screenings include mammography, cervical-cancer screening and colonical- as well as rectal cancer screenings, among others. Dr. Melinda Mészáros, representative of the Side of the Employees, said they appreciate the efforts of the government, Róbert Szendrei, representative of the Side of the NGOs welcomed the fact that midwives’ network is also integrated in this system. Gusztáv Báger, representative of the Side of Sciences was very pleased to hear that the government takes into consideration the latest scientific results when designing health care policies. In his response Tamás Szentes said that medical screenings are just a secondary prevention, the primary prevention would be a healthy lifestyle and diminishing risk factors in our lives. The deputy state secretary informed the members of the Council that 10+10 mobile screening units would be started in the coming days, which will cover 2041 settlements of the country. As a result, the screening examinations will go to remote places and people who so far have not attended screenings would be able to participate at the examinations.
The next plenary session of the NESC is planned to be held in December.
Pictures taken at the event can be viewed in the Gallery.
Related downloadable document: Statement – The future of the Hungarian nation is our shared responsibility.