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Hungary windfall tax to hit mainly banking, energy sectors

Hungary said Thursday its new windfall tax imposed over rising prices blamed on the war in Ukraine would raise more than $2 billion and mainly target the banking and energy sectors. The government is looking to levy revenue of 300 billion forints (760 million euros, $820 million) each from both the banking and energy sectors, Economic Development Minister Marton Nagy told a press conference. A further 200 billion forints will be raised in total from retail chains, insurance firms, airlines, telecommunications and pharmaceutical companies, said Nagy. “It is not the profit but the extra profit that is being taken away,” he told reporters. A tax on advertising revenues will also be introduced towards bringing in 15 billion forints of revenue, Nagy added. The taxes — to bring in a total of more than 800 billion forints (2 billion euros, $2.1 billion) — are to be imposed in both 2022 and 2023, said Nagy, declining to say if they would be extended beyond that period. Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the windfall taxes on Wednesday, justifying them by saying that the war in neighbouring Ukraine and “sanctions policy in Brussels” had led to “rising prices”. Together with high interest rates, higher prices “are giving banks and large multinationals extra profit”, he said. That announcement came a day after Orban imposed a state of emergency, citing the threat of a humanitarian disaster and economic challenges posed by the war. The money raised will go to two funds, one to strengthen the army and the other to fund price caps on energy and water bills, Orban said. Companies making extra profit will thus help the Hungarian economy and contribute to the country’s defence costs, his chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said on Thursday. In another move intended to curb so-called “fuel tourism”, the government also announced on Thursday that only cars with Hungarian registration plates will be able to fill up at Hungarian petrol stations, where prices have been capped since November. “Foreign buyers are exploiting the fact that Hungary is able to maintain petrol prices at 480 forints (1.2 euros, $1.3 per litre), while they are at 700 to 900 forints elsewhere in Europe,” Gulyas told the same press conference. “Cars with foreign number plates will have to pay market prices,” he said.

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