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Orban Sees Hungary Credit Upgrade in ‘Close Future’ After Cut

Hungary’s credit rating may be raised in the "close future" once the government’s "unusual" policies start producing results, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

The country’s sovereign credit rating was cut two levels by Moody’s Investors Service yesterday on concern that the government’s policy of plugging budget holes with "temporary measures" won’t be sustainable.

"We need some time to have results," Orban said at a press conference in Stockholm today with Swedish Premier Fredrik Reinfeldt. "In the close future, we will be upgraded again because the results will be on our side."

Moody’s downgraded Hungary to Baa3, its lowest investment grade, bringing it in line with Standard and Poor’s. Both companies gave a negative outlook, meaning they are more likely to reduce the rating to "junk" than to raise it or keep it unchanged.

Orban is bringing private pension funds under state control and imposed special taxes on banking, energy, telecommunications and retailing to cut the budget gap to the European Union limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product next year. Hungary is the EU’s most-indebted eastern member, with public debt estimated at 79 percent of GDP this year.

Orban, elected in April on a pledge to end five years of austerity, broke off talks with the International Monetary Fund in July, saying he needed more “freedom” to conduct his economic policy. Hungary was the first European Union country to obtain an IMF-led bailout in 2008.

"I said already three months ago that we would be downgraded because the mixture of economic policy we have isn’t very much the usual one, it’s rather unusual," Orban said in remarks in English.

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