Speaking at a regular press briefing, the prime minister’s chief of staff said the government has been in talks with Brussels on the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund for months, dismissing reports that said otherwise as “fake news”.
Gergely Gulyás added, however, that the European Commission had recently formulated “absurd demands” concerning matters that were already settled. “But reports that Brussels has rejected Hungary’s plan or that talks have been halted are fake news,” he added. The talks are going well, he said, and expressed hope that Hungary’s recovery plan will be approved.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said that under a new government programme, general practitioners will visit Hungarians over 60 years of age in their homes to convince them to accept the coronavirus vaccine. Those registering for the vaccine now can receive the first jab within two days, he said.
The pandemic is not over yet, Gulyás warned. Experts expect a fourth wave, dangerous mostly to those who have not received the vaccine, he said.
The six vaccines in use today in Hungary all provide protection against all known mutations of the virus, he said.
Gulyás noted that the Delta variant of the virus could spread six or seven times as fast as the original virus. He said Hungary was one of Europe’s safest countries in terms of the status of the epidemic. So far, more than half a million people have applied for the EU’s Digital Green Certificate, he said, urging travellers to look up their destination country’s Covid regulations. Gulyás said most countries accepted the vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, including China’s Sinopharm jab. As regards Hungary’s coronavirus stats, he said those who have died from the infection in recent days had not been inoculated.
On another subject, he said the government is tying the exports of certain construction materials to registration to curb rising prices. Making such exports conditional on government permission is tied to EU procedures and so can only come into force on October 1, Gulyás said. Introducing a registry of exports, however, is under the government’s purview and can be implemented immediately, he said. The measure will concern the exports of steel and iron products, insulation materials, sand, stone, pebbles and gravel, he said.
Hungary is introducing excess profits tax on mining, to be paid in case certain materials such as stone, plaster, chalk, pebbles, sand and clay are sold above a government-specified price. The same will apply to the production of cement, lime and plaster, Gulyás said. The tax will only be imposed on companies whose annual revenue exceeds 3 billion forints (EUR 8.5m), and will come to 90% of the difference between the government-specified price and the asking price, he said.