The FINANCIAL -- Hungary's long-delayed
efforts to secure 15-billion-euro ($18.4 billion) stand-by credit line
from the IMF and EU could be completed by the end of the year,
Budapest's chief negotiator said Thursday.
"Hungary could reach a deal with the IMF and the EU at the end of the autumn," or around November or December, Mihaly Varga, the minister without portfolio appointed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to lead the talks, told MRI radio.
He said points of contention to be ironed out included a new financial transaction tax that controversially also imposes a levy on the central bank, and ways to meet the government's 2013 budget targets.
The comments follow a week-long visit by a delegation from the International Monetary Fund and European Union that ended on Wednesday, described by Varga as "useful" and by Orban previously as "encouraging."
The right-wing Orban first approached the IMF and the EU for help last year after Hungary's currency, the forint, fell sharply and the EU member state's borrowing costs on financial markets soared just as the economy weakened.
Investors were spooked by a number of unorthodox economic policies introduced by Orban's government such as the forced nationalisation of state pension assets. Hungary's sovereign debt was cut to "junk" status by credit rating agencies.
Talks on the aid broke down in December because of unease over a raft of new legislation, especially a new central bank law that critics including the European Central Bank said endangered the lender's independence.
According to EUbusiness, the government has since tweaked the central bank legislation, allowing talks with the EU and the IMF to resume.
Last week Hungary's highest court declared as unconstitutional legislation lowering the retirement age of judges that Brussels had threatened to sue Hungary over because of worries about the independence of the judiciary.