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Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 1:00:02 AM
Wednesday November 6, 2013 MYT 1:01:05 AM
by gergely szakacs
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban waves towards his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh after a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi October 17, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban indicated on Tuesday that telecommunications companies may be able to reduce some of their special tax burdens in the future by making investments that boost economic growth.
Orban has stabilised the budget with a string of unorthodox measures such as special taxes on banks, energy firms and the telecommunications sector, which have earned him much criticism from abroad.
However, the measures have also got Hungary off the European Union's blacklist of fiscal offenders. On Tuesday the European Commission forecast that the deficit would remain within its limit of 3 percent of GDP in both 2013 and 2014 - election year.
The draft 2014 budget has pencilled in 57 billion forints ($260 million) in revenue from a special tax on the telecommunications sector, and another 53 billion from a tax on communications and other public utility infrastructure.
Orban, who was speaking at the signing of a cooperation agreement with Norway's Telenor, did not specify when the telecoms tax burden might be cut.
"We have discussed this issue today and agreed that of course we readily accept any proposal that contributes to the growth of the Hungarian economy and generates more tax revenue, because we will be able to reduce the burdens specific to this sector proportionately," Orban said.
Major players include Magyar Telekom, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, and Britain's Vodafone.
Orban, who faces an election in April or May 2014, says he has saved Hungary from collapsing under a Greek-style debt pile after years of mismanagement under Socialist governments.
Hungary has struggled to rebound from last year's recession, but on Tuesday, the EU Commission forecast growth would accelerate in the coming years.
Telenor Hungary chief executive Christopher Laska said the company was ready to invest another 10 billion forints into expanding its high-speed mobile Internet network in Hungary.
"We will actively participate in initiatives aiming to effectively increase Hungary's competitiveness," he said.
($1 = 219.36 Hungarian forints)
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