Hungary’s Prime minister Viktor Orban looks on as he is welcomed by French President in the courtyard of the Elysee presidential palace before their meeting on October 11, 2019 in Paris. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN - AFP)

Hungary is preparing to announce a roughly $30 billion package of measures to help jump-start the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak, a top government official said on Saturday.

Parliament, where the ruling Fidesz party has a strong majority, has granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban the right to rule by decree to fight the coronavirus, ignoring calls by opponents and rights groups to put a timeframe on the extra powers.

Orban, who has been in power for a decade, has flagged the biggest economic package of the country’s history to offset the economic impacts of the pandemic, which has already led to tens of thousands of job losses.

The premier is expected to unveil the measures on Monday, after the government approves them, his chief of staff Gergely Gulyas told a news conference. The National Bank of Hungary will announce steps after its policy-making Monetary Council meets on Tuesday.


Gulyas said the total package would amount to 18-22% of Hungary’s GDP, which amounts to about $30 billion. It was not immediately clear where the cash would be targeted, though some steps have already been taken.

The government has imposed a blanket moratorium on all repayments on corporate and household loans this year, and the central bank has launched a series of steps to provide liquidity for banks.

It has also created a $2 billion special fund to aid the fight against the novel coronavirus, which will include contributions from banks and foreign retailers.

Domestic banks will be expected to pay 55 billion forints ($163 million) into the fund this year, with multinational retailers adding 36 billion forints.

Another $4 billion fund was created to aid economic and employment efforts.

Hungary’s economy grew by 4.9% last year but several analysts now expect a recession this year, as big carmakers have already announced temporary shutdowns lasting for weeks, and sectors like tourism have collapsed.

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