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Hungary Approves 2011 Budget Framework After Moody’s Downgrade

Hungarian lawmakers approved the framework of the 2011 budget, which targets a reduction of the budget deficit below the European Union’s 3 percent limit for the first time since the country joined the bloc.

Next year’s budget targets a shortfall of 2.94 percent of gross domestic product. Budget revenue was set at 13.15 trillion forint ($63.4 billion), with spending at 13.84 trillion forint and a deficit of 687.4 billion forint, according to the bill, posted on parliament’s website. Lawmakers approved the framework by a vote of 249 to 83.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban is directing private-pension funds to the budget and imposed special taxes on banking, energy, telecommunications and retailing to narrow the deficit. Moody’s Investors Service yesterday cut the country’s credit rating two levels to Baa3, its lowest investment grade, because of a reliance on “temporary measures” to plug budget holes.

Hungary, the most indebted eastern member of the EU, had the bloc’s widest deficit in 2006 at 9.3 percent of GDP. This year’s targeted shortfall is 3.8 percent.

Lawmakers today set the framework of the budget and will have two weeks to modify funding of budget chapters before a final vote scheduled for Dec. 23.

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