Hungary still opposed to "job killing" global minimum tax, Orban says

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends the autumn session of parliament in Budapest, Hungary, September 26, 2022. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo/File Photo

BUDAPEST, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Hungary remains opposed to a global minimum corporate tax rate, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday, citing concern over jobs in the central European country, which has used its low-tax regime to attract investment.

The minimum tax is the second of a two-pillar deal reached last year among nearly 140 countries to rewrite the rules of cross-border taxation to take better account of how big internet companies can book profits in low-tax countries.

Hungary has used its 9% corporate tax rate and generous government subsidies to attract major investments by German carmakers and Asian battery manufacturers to bolster its export-driven economy.

"This is a job killing tax hike, which, if implemented with Hungary's approval, would wipe out tens of thousands of jobs," Orban said. "The tax issue is not a global one, it falls under national jurisdiction."

Hungary has argued that approval of the plan could harm the European economy, but some European officials have suggested Budapest is using its opposition as a bargaining chip to gain access to billions of blocked EU recovery funds.

The European Commission approved on Wednesday Hungary's post-pandemic recovery plan but said it would not receive any payments - worth a total 5.8 billion euros - until it implements reforms to bolster judicial independence and tackle corruption. read more

Orban said Hungary's economy, hit hard by the war in neighbouring Ukraine, could grow by 1.5% next year, adding that his nationalist government would continue efforts to shield households from soaring energy costs in 2023.

Orban reiterated that Hungary opposed joint EU borrowing to help Ukraine but said Budapest would provide funding on a bilateral basis.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Anita Komuves; Editing by Robert Birsel

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