Hungary's left and right wing opposition parties all cried foul following Monday's central bank announcement that the second quarter national debt had climbed to 85.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) following a first quarter 84.4 percent and a 2013 year-end 79.4 percent.
On its part, the government shot back, arguing that the left had upset the balance back in 2002-2010, when left-wing administrations had pushed the debt up from 53 percent of GDP to 85 percent. The Fidesz-led administration has been paying down loans, said a statement issued by the party, which also argued that the debt was showing a downward trend despite the current spike.
The socialist MSZP noted that the Fidesz administration was the one that had pushed the debt up to a record 85.6 percent back in 2010 shortly after Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government took office in the spring of that year.
A statement signed by Sandor Burany, head of parliament's budget committee, demanded that the government act to appreciate the forint, the local currency, and give up the idea of borrowing 10 billion euros (13.36 billion U.S. dollars) to upgrade the country's sole nuclear power plant. He also demanded that other "luxury" investment projects be halted.
The left-wing DK and Together-PM parties both charged the government with manipulating numbers around the 2013 year-end debt, artificially lowering it to 79.4 percent, and were now living with the consequences.
The far-right Jobbik party called for re-negotiating the debt, saying that when Fidesz took office back in 2010 the national debt had only been 82 percent of GDP. A statement by Janos Volner, head of the party's parliamentary group, charged that the government's economic policy had impoverished residents and destroyed the country's competitiveness, and had still managed to increase the debt.
Peter Banai, state secretary of the National Economy Ministry, said on a local public radio that much of the debt had simply been there because the government had sold three billion dollars worth of bonds in March in advance of paying off a one billion euro debt that was due on July 1.
The money will also go to pay off two billion euros in debt due before the end of the year, and the national debt is expected to go down by year-end, Banai said. (1 euro = 1.336 U.S. dollars)