Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
At the annual opening meeting of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on February 4, 2021, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked the chamber to gather suggestions from economic operators to address the economic problems caused by the coronavirus epidemic and to make the most efficient use of the resources available to restart the economy. The HCCI presidency set up 15 working groups responsible for specialties involving a wide range of businesses in the field. The working groups prepared their proposals within three weeks, which we forwarded to the Government last week.
Our goal was to formulate such proposals which, on the one hand, ensure that the economy is restarted as quickly as possible in the final stages of the emergency and thereafter. In addition, they should fit in organically with the cornerstones of that patriotic economic policy which led to the rise of the Hungarian economy between 2010 and 2019. When launching any development policy concept, decision-makers find themselves faced with the dilemma of who should and can be designated as beneficiaries of the aid scheme in order to ensure the greatest economic growth.
Primarily those who are already performing dynamically and have the ability to create jobs or markets for others or, conversely, to support those who are most deprived and would not be able to function without support. The correct response to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic in this case is to that the use of available domestic and EU funds should serve both objectives in an appropriate proportion. Now, social justice increasingly requires that businesses that are impossible through no fault of their own receive help and a lifeline.
In the spirit of all this, the first HUF 100 billion credit line can already be applied for at the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB) it can be used by companies whose operation has been clearly prevented by restrictive provisions. This range of entrepreneurs is mainly tourism and hospitality, and personal services, for which the pre-determined number of 25 NACE was increased to 55 on the proposal of the Chamber.
In our negotiations with the Government, we requested that the announced framework be open from above, and should there be a need for additional businesses in difficulty, there should be scope for expanding resources. An additional two hundred billion loan facility for the SME sector is currently being developed.
In general, we requested that the withdrawal of successful crisis management aid introduced during the crisis should take place after the gradual opening we have proposed, only 1-3 months after their introduction, thus supporting the possibility of successful survival.
In order for the Hungarian economy to become a real winner in the ruthless economic struggle in the world after the epidemic, we see the need to take measures with short- and medium-term effects in line with the Government's economic strategy so far.
During the restructuring of the economic structure, we were able to identify the following priorities:
- diversification and modernization of the production and service sectors;
- reducing the economy's exposure to imports;
- improving the export capacity of enterprises;
- enhancing the domestic innovation capacity, with a special focus on digitalisation;
- increase the content of knowledge of economic structure with the increase of corporate added value;
- strengthening sustainability and the green economy;
- developing a high-quality education system to support the knowledge-based society.
In order to strengthen domestic enterprises, we consider it necessary to further increase the share of domestic suppliers in the forthcoming EU and domestic public investment programs, in particular the Recovery and Adaptation Plan. In order to ensure the proper financing of the last phase of crisis management and the subsequent restart phase, there is an urgent need to bring forward and accelerate the disbursement of EU funds for business development.
The nearly 150-item proposals of the working groups will be discussed together with the professional leaders of the public administration in the near future.
The main recommendations of the working groups are:
- increasing market demand and its controlled use by prioritizing Hungarian products and services by launching programs to increase household consumption;
- suspension of corporate bankruptcies, liquidations and enforcement for a minimum of six months after the end of the emergency;
- bringing the use of business development funds forward to the early stages of the program cycle and accelerating payments;
- rapid launch of small-scale tenders for digitization, sustainability, innovation and export development in the SME sector;
- continuation of the successfully operating Széchenyi Card Program and extension to other areas.
16 March, 2021