Hungary offers tax breaks to raise fertility rate

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Hungary announced further measures to boost child births, including expanding subsidies for home purchases and providing handouts to families, as part of efforts to boost the nation’s fertility rate and counter slowing economic growth.

Speaking at a state-of-nation address on Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he is seeking to maintain an annual economic expansion that’s at least 2 percentage points faster than the European Union average. The premier said Hungary would continue to oppose any forms or immigration, and increasing fertility rate was key for the nation’s survival.

Unveiled measures include the expansion of subsidized mortgages for families with two or more children, as well as handouts for buying cars and favorable loans to newly-wed couples. Women with at least four children will be exempt from paying personal-income tax, while the government will also spend 700 billion forint ($2.49 billion) on healthcare investments.

The government is looking to keep gross domestic product growth above 4 percent this year despite slowing global momentum and a deteriorating outlook for Germany’s economy, its main trading partner. The central bank forecasts a slowdown to 3.5 percent from an estimated 4.7 percent in 2018.

Orban reiterated calls to stem immigration, framing upcoming EU Parliament elections as a decision between forces promoting "mixed societies" and what he called those looking to save the continent’s Christian heritage. In the eight years following his return to power, Hungary’s population has fallen by 236,000 to 9.78 million, a bigger decline than in the previous decade, according to official data.

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