The time of the foreign-exchange loans is over. However, this will hardly have a miraculous effect on the financial situation of the Hungarian families in debt.
The Constitutional Court created by the government has made a decision that in exceptional cases an intervention by law in previously made contracts may be acceptable. However, in such cases the interests of both parties have to be protected. The dramatic and unpredictable change in the foreign-exchange rates that harmed the interests of the consumers served as a sufficient legal basis for this. Therefore the previous solutions implemented by the government, the final repayment constructions and the fixed exchange rate, were acceptable according to the Constitution.
The first reaction of Gergely Gulyás, Fidesz spokesman on the matter, was something like, if you re-elect us we will abolish the foreign-exchange rate loans by summertime. Jobbik asks, on the other hand, why should the citizens, who have already waited for years, wait even more until after the election? Jobbik calls for a special parliamentary session and the immediate abolition of the loans along with the compensation of the victims. The left parties remind us in a little less radical manner that a stronger forint exchange rate would help the families the most.
Mihály Varga, Minister of National Economics, evaluates the decision as a confirmation of the previous steps of the government that is always striving in a constitutional way to make balanced decisions that benefit all parties. It would be important that the next government continues the process to eliminate the foreign-exchange rate loans from the system.
The government is waiting for the decision of the Kúria (supreme court) that turned to the European Court of Justice to clarify the basics about one-sided interest rate increases that the commercial banks have used to increase their margin. This decision is expected to be available in May.
In 2010 there were about one million foreign-exchange rate loans on the market with a total volume about almost HUF 3,000 billion; since 2006 these loans have forced the forint loans in the background since the latter had a much higher interest rate. First, the politicians helped themselves and another 170,000 citizens who were able to prepay the loans, that had been originally taken for 10-20 years, in one go to a nice 30% “discount” – Fidesz is still speaking about the final repayment as a huge success.
About 180,000 credit users consented being dragged into the fixed exchange rate construction that in reality only means postponing the payment. Every fifth of the remaining debtors is now bankrupt – over 100,000 Hungarian families are threatened with losing their homes.
What should these people hope for now? Certainly not for a miracle. Fidesz recently had the thought that people who took the foreign-exchange rate loans should not have a better deal than people who took a HUF loan – this did not come up at the time of the generous final repayment. According to the experts, this clause will result in a maximum of 10-15% better rates when converting the foreign-exchange rate loans to HUF loans. This depends on the interest rates of the substituted and the new loans.