Hungary Ready to Compromise Further on Bank Law, Csefalvay Says

Hungary is ready to compromise further on a central bank law that’s raised objections from the European Union and the European Central Bank and blocked talks on an international bailout, an Economy Ministry official said.

Amendments to the bill, submitted to lawmakers yesterday, address four of six issues criticized by the 27-member bloc, State Secretary Zoltan Csefalvay said today in an interview in London. The government wants to speed the passage of the changes while continuing talks on the remaining concerns, he said.

“That fact that these four points have been sent to Parliament indicates we’re willing to compromise,” Csefalvay said. “We’re obviously ready to compromise on this, as we have been so far and are going to be in the future.”

The government said the amendments address “some points” raised by the EU in an infringement procedure against the eastern European nation, whose request for financial aid was halted because of concern the bill would curtail central bank autonomy. The ECB said April 5 it had “serious concerns” about the bank’s independence even after reviewing the proposed changes.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban turned to the IMF in November after the forint dropped to a record against the euro and Hungary’s credit rating was cut to junk. The currency traded 0.4 percent lower at 297.42 at 5:33 p.m. in Budapest.

The government met representatives from the EU, ECB, International Monetary Fund and central bank on March 16 in Frankfurt to discuss the law and resolved some “technical details” on the remaining questions, according to Csefalvay.

“It’s in our interest to start the actual negotiations as soon as possible,” Csefalvay said. “We’re doing everything to clarify all the issues regarding the central bank law.”

He declined to say how long talks on the remaining issues may last or when the bailout talks may begin.

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