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Hungary's Orban Says Global-Minimum-Tax Plan 'Absurd'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticized a proposed global minimum corporate tax, calling it "absurd" and warning that his government would need to consider contingency plans if the concept was adopted.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) on June 5 pledged to commit to a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15 percent, rallying behind a U.S.-backed plan.

The landmark move is aimed at getting multinationals -- especially tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon -- to pay more into pandemic-hit government budgets.

The G7 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States -- hope to reach a final agreement at a gathering next month of the expanded G20 finance ministers group.

Orban said his government opposed the move, which he said went against efforts to attract foreign investment with low taxes.

Hungary's 9 percent corporate tax rate is the lowest in the 27-member European Union.

Budapest has benefited from it, managing to attract large investments in its car and manufacturing sectors that have boosted economic growth and employment, which in turn helped Orban and his right-wing government stay in power for more than a decade.

"I consider it absurd that any world organization should assert the right to say what taxes Hungary can levy and what taxes it cannot," said Orban, who faces his first competitive election next year.

Orban, who was speaking at a business conference in Budapest, warned that his government would need to draw up contingency plans if the tax plan does get final approval.

Hungary needs "lines of defense" that can protect jobs, he said.

Hungarian Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said the global tax could affect 2,000 to 3,000 major companies in Hungary.

Ireland, another EU member with a low corporate tax rate -- 12.5 percent -- also opposes the global minimum levy move.

With reporting by Reuters
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    RFE/RL’s Hungarian Service -- closed after the Cold War ended -- was relaunched on September 8, 2020, in response to the country’s steep decline in media freedom. It's an entirely digital service dedicated to serving the public interest by representing a diversity of views and providing reliable, unbiased reporting about the issues audiences care about most.