Orban to Tax Banks and Multinationals Profiting from War to Cut Home Energy Bills

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ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will impose a temporary windfall tax on banks and multinationals which he says are profiting from the Ukraine war, to protect Hungarians from energy bill increases and enhance the domestic military.

“The war is dragging on, the sanctions policy from Brussels is not improving,” said the national conservative leader, who assented to early moves to impose penalties on Russia despite some reservations, such as removing them for SWIFT, but is blocking the European Union’s proposed embargo on Russian oil on grounds that it will harm his own citizens more than Vladimir Putin.

“[T]ogether these factors are leading to dramatic price rises,” continued Orbán’s statement — a translation of which has been received by Breitbart London — suggesting that his government’s moves to freeze household energy bills have protected Hungarians from the worst effects of the energy crisis but conceding that “the price of energy is rising further, and so it is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to protect families.”

“Meanwhile rising interest rates and prices are enabling banks and large multinational corporations to make extraordinarily high profits,” he added — leaning into a habit of critiquing the big businesses beloved by many American and Western European “fiscal conservatives” which has seen his government accused of being both far-right and “communist” by foreign critics, depending on their own political leanings.

With war raging in neighbouring Ukraine and a cost of living crisis gripping much of the Western world, however, Orbán insisted that Hungary needs money to build up the armed forces and ensure it can continue shielding families from skyrocketing bills — and that, as a result, his government would henceforth “oblige banks, insurance companies, large retail chains, businesses involved in the energy industry and trade, telecommunications companies, and airlines to pay a large part of their extra profits” into funds for the military and the maintenance of household energy discounts.

Orbán claimed that this effective windfall tax would be “limited in time”, covering only 2022 and 2023, adding: “We are asking and expecting those who are making extra profits in the current war situation to help people and contribute to the costs of the country’s defence. ”

“In line with our earlier commitments, in the prolonged war situation we shall continue to protect families, pensioners, jobs and reductions in household energy bills,” he vowed.

Similar action is being taken — not without controversy — outside the European Union in the continent’s far west, in the United Kingdom.

The “centre-right” Conservative (Tory) Party government, led by Boris Johnson, is planning a 25 per cent windfall tax on the oil and gas industry — who have not been especially well-served by the green-obsessed government as things stand — chiefly to provide some families on means-tested state benefits a one-off grant of £650.

“The oil and gas sector is making extraordinary profits, not as the result of recent changes to risk-taking or innovation or efficiency, but as the result of surging global commodity prices driven in part by Russia’s war,” argued the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, who reportedly had to fight Prime Minister Johnson tooth and nail to agree to the policy, by way of justification.

“This government will never stop trying to help people,” Sunak claimed, admitting that the inflationary crisis was “causing acute distress for the people of this country.”

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