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Hungary eases repayment rules for some loans under moratorium By Reuters


BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s government has eased repayment rules for retail credit card loans and overdraft credit as part of an extended debt moratorium, the latest in a string of gifts for households ahead of next year’s election.

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban decided Monday to prolong the moratorium that had been in effect since March 2020 for certain vulnerable groups, until at least mid-2020.

This scheme will also be extended to pensioners and families that have or are expecting children. It will also apply to public workers who work for the government, as well as borrowers with incomes below last year’s.

In the face of tight elections, Orban gave out handouts to the electorate, such as a $2 billion income tax rebate to families and scrapping the income tax for young workers. He also offered home renovation grants, extra pension payments, and additional income tax refunds.

According to Wednesday’s government decree, Hungary’s banks must recalculate their retail credit cards and overdraft credit in order to use the lower interest rates.

According to financial news, the measure may affect more than 500,000 borrowers and cost banks from $20 billion to $30 billion ($68 million to $102 millions). Because the loan amounts are being recalculated at a consumer interest rate of 12%, the maximum amount to be charged to borrowers is about 12%.

The lenders will be allowed to collect any owed repayments within 60 days. In the first half, local banks made a profit of 405 Billion Forints ($1.37B).

Hungarian Banking Association spokesperson declined immediate comment. OTP Bank is Hungary’s largest lender.

OTP shares were 0.3% more expensive at 18,350 Forints as of 0828 GMT. This is in line with blue-chip index. OTP shares gained 34% in the last six months. This is more than the 18% gain of the wider market over that time.

($1 = 295.47 forints)

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