Hungary’s Anti-Immigrant Cabinet Seeks Foreigners to Fill Jobs

Hungary’s staunchly anti-immigrant government is loosening rules for foreign workers in a push to accelerate the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The government will allow companies to recruit qualified labor from non-neighboring countries via temp agencies, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a Facebook video on Thursday. The step is aimed at helping meet a 5.5% annual economic growth target for this year, he said.

Hungary’s Anti-Immigrant Cabinet Seeks Foreigners to Fill Jobs

Hungary, like many of its peers in central and eastern Europe, has struggled with a labor shortage that’s restrained economic activity. But the government has been reluctant to open its doors wider to foreigners amid Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigrant policies that have sparked frequent clashes with the European Union.

Economic growth concerns are at least partly trumping that agenda, with Orban having promised families as much as $2 billion in tax rebates before elections next year if the expansion matches or exceeds his government’s goal in 2021.

In other steps, Hungary will also provide subsidized state loans for local companies that are seeking to purchase foreign rivals, Szijjarto said, and for the financing of projects with an environmental sustainability focus.

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