Sat, 16 Oct 2021

BUDAPEST, Hungary: In a boon to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's campaign for an early 2022 election, the Moody's ratings agency raised Hungary's credit rating from 'Baa3' to 'Baa2', based upon its strong economic recovery from the pandemic.

The country's longest-serving leader since Communist times, Orban has offered the electorate generous handouts, including a $2 billion income tax rebate for families, lower income taxes for young workers and extra pension payments.

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Orban has also intensified his anti-immigration campaign and has grown increasingly strident about policies to protect what he claims are traditional Christian values from Western liberalism.

The strong recovery is enabling his extra spending, he stressed, despite calls from the central bank to reduce the budget deficit.

The projected strong growth rebound and medium-term outlook will "support fiscal consolidation and reduction in the government's debt burden," Moody's said in a statement, adding that it predicts minimal damage from the coronavirus pandemic, and the medium-term outlook, until 2025, was supported by high investment rates.

On Friday, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said Hungary's economic growth could reach 7 to 7.5 percent this year.

The fiscal and monetary stimulus that increased the provision of loans to companies and households also accelerated the country's economic recovery since the second quarter.

On Saturday, the central bank stressed that it expects a "positive credit rating path" for the economy after the upgrade.

Support for Orban's Fidesz party stood at 37 percent, while combined support for the six opposition parties was at 39 percent, according to a survey conducted in August.

The six-party Hungarian opposition alliance, which is currently in the first round of primary elections to pick Orban's challenger, criticized his government for alleged corruption, rising prices and a widening wealth gap.

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