Socialists oppose plans to lower schooling age

Budapest, March 5 (MTI) – Hungary’s main opposition Socialists oppose the government’s plans to reduce the schooling age from 18 to 15 in the country.

The Socialists demand that the government remove this motion from its fiscal plan, announced earlier this week, a statement from the party said on Saturday.

The greatest obstacle blocking economic growth in Hungary is a lack of highly skilled and flexible workforce, the statement said. The unemployed typically have very low or not easily convertible qualifications. Lowering the school-leaving age would just increase the number of people who are not competitive on the labour market, the statement added.

The move would hurt Hungary’s young Roma population most, as they are the ones most likely to lose the chance to gain qualifications. It would result in school closures and teacher dismissals, too, the statement said.

House Speaker inaugurates flag monument in CE Hungary

Budapest, March 5 (MTI) – Monuments to the national flag erected throughout Hungary are symbols of cohesion within the nation, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover said on Saturday, at the unveiling ceremony of the latest such monument in Szolnok.

Budapest, March 5 (MTI) – Monuments to the national flag erected throughout Hungary are symbols of cohesion within the nation, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover said on Saturday, at the unveiling ceremony of the latest such monument in Szolnok.

The first flag monuments – erected after WWI, when two thirds of Hungary’s territory was ceded to neighbouring countries – were intended to express togetherness and to indicate that we will not give up on Hungarians now living beyond the borders, Kover said.

The new monument in the city centre, which replaces one that was destroyed in WWII, has been erected using public donations.

Ombudsman backs anti-smoking bill

Budapest, March 6 (MTI) – Hungary’s ombudsman for future generations said he supported plans for new anti-smoking legislation.

The right to a healthy life must receive priority over business interests, Sandor Fulop said in a statement sent to MTI on Sunday.

Fulop gave warning that after the legislation is introduced, strong monitoring will be necessary to make sure that the law is observed.

Recent press reports said the planned legislation to ban smoking in cafes and restaurants in Hungary is expected to reduce budget revenues by at least 32.5 billion forints (EUR 118.6m) this year. If the proposal is approved by parliament, a further loss of up to 58.5 billion in excise tax revenues is also expected.

It remains to be seen how Hungarians with a strong smoking culture respond to the changes. Some analysts have estimated alcohol consumption would drop by 7-14 percent on average if smoking was banned in pubs and restaurants.

On Friday, Tamas Heintz and other deputies of the governing Fidesz party submitted a proposal to ban smoking in all indoor public areas, such as restaurants and cafes, workplaces and public transport. The ban is planned to come into force in July 2011.

Hungarian women earn a quarter less than men – survey

Budapest, March 7, 2011 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Hungarian women earn, on average, a quarter less than men, according to a survey by fizetesek.hu, a salary gauge website operated by Workania.

The survey, based on salary information submitted by 80,000 people, found Hungarian men earn an average gross HUF 256,000 per month, while women earn gross HUF 192,000.

The gap between men’s and women’s pay widens to 31pc among people with university degrees. Women with degrees earned an average HUF 272,000 per month while men earned HUF 392,000, according to the survey.

The difference between men’s and women’s pay among top managers was 29pc, while the difference was 23pc among skilled labourers and just 7pc among unskilled workers.

The survey found that the average earning difference between men and women is at the narrowest, 16pc, among career-starters: men start out earning HUF 203,000 a month and women are paid HUF 169,000. After 3-5 years, however, the gap widens to 26pc.

In the areas of culture, sport and wellness, women earn about 2pc more than their male colleagues.

(HUF 100 = EUR 0.3685)

Hungary outlines reform plan, in English

Budapest, March 7, 2011 (MTI-ECONEWS) – Hungary’s National Economy Ministry on Monday published on its website a document, in English, outlining a reform plan unveiled a week earlier.

 

The government presented the Szell Kalman Plan, in Hungarian, on March 1. The plan’s aims, to reduce state debt and foster growth, were welcomed by markets, but some analysts said it lacked detail.

The English-language document can be downloaded at http://www.kormany.hu/download/b/23/20000/Hungary%27s%20Structural%20 Reform.pdf

“The programme is aimed at consolidating the Hungarian public sector by means of structural reforms, strengthening economic growth, encouraging the increase of employment and enhancing the competitiveness of Hungary’s economy,” according to the document.

The plan aims to make labour market regulation simpler and more transparent, resulting, together with economic growth, in a reduction of the number of unemployed by 100,000 in 2012, 200,000 in 2013 and 300,000 in 2014.

 (HUF 100 = EUR 0.3685)