Hungary gives tax breaks to boost population, stop immigration

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has announced tax benefits and subsidies to encourage families to have more children. He said the policy was meant to create more Hungarians instead of promoting EU-backed immigration.

Hungary's anti-immigration prime minister announced on Sunday that the government would offer financial aid and subsidies for families to boost the birth rate.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in his annual State of the Nation speech that the policy was "Hungary's answer" to population decline, "not immigration."

Read more: Is Viktor Orban the EU's hard-line hero or villain? 

"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," he said.

"But we do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children," he added.

In 2016, Hungary's birth rate was 1.45 births per women, below the 2.1 replacement rate.

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Loans, subsidies, no income tax

The seven-point program includes a loan of 10 million Forint (€31,352/$35,540) to women under 40 who marry for the first time. A third of the loan would be waived after a second child and the entire sum waived after a third child. 

Read more: Hungary's Viktor Orban pushes for anti-migrant bloc to counter France and Germany 

Another plank of the program would absolve any woman who has four or more children from paying income tax for life.

The new measures would also provide housing subsidies to families depending on the number of children they have and state support for the purchase of any seven-seat vehicle.

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Orban slams EU

Orban also took aim at the European Union ahead of European Parliament elections in May and his nemesis, Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros.

Read more: EU Parliament votes to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary 

"Brussels is the stronghold of new internationalism, its tool is migration," he said.

cw/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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