Women with four or more children soon won’t have to pay income tax for the rest of their lives in Hungary, thanks to new measures aimed to bolster the country’s population.
Prime Minister Victor Orban announced the plan to reverse population decline in his “state of the nation” speech on Sunday.
Hungary population has declined by 32,000 people a year, the BBC reports, and women in the country have fewer children than the European average. A sustainable birth rate for a developed nation is around 2.1 births per woman. The European average is 1.6 and in Hungary, it is 1.45.
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Orban and his right-wing party, Fidesz, are outspoken about their criticisms of mass immigration into Europe.
He said the solution to the population problem wasn’t just numbers, but instead, was more “Hungarian children.”
“There are fewer and fewer children born in Europe. For the West, the answer (to that challenge) is immigration. For every missing child, there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine,” Orban said in the speech.
“But we do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children.”
“This is Hungary’s answer (to challenges) rather than immigration,” he said, according to Daily News Hungary.
Orban’s policies on immigration have included ordering razor-wire fences to be set up and migrants to be held in detention zones while their asylum cases are assessed. He has also called for “anti-migration politicians” to take over Europe’s governments during upcoming spring elections.
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The new tax measures include the expansion of a loan program for families with at least two children to help them buy homes, subsidies for car purchases and waiving personal income tax for women raising at least four children.
Women below 40 who marry for the first time will be eligible for a 10-million forint (C$46,800) subsidized loan, Orban said. A third of the debt will be forgiven when a second child is born and the entire loan waived after the third child.
Zoltan Torok, an analyst at the Hungarian unit of Raiffeisen Bank, told Reuters that on first glance, the measures could cost several tens of billions of forints, but they were unlikely to produce any drastic increase in the budget deficit.
— with files from Reuters