Hungary Caps Prices on Eggs, Potatoes

Grocers will be ordered to sell them at prices no higher than they were at the end of September.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Grocers in Hungary will be ordered to sell eggs and potatoes at prices no higher than they were at the end of September, a government minister announced Wednesday, part of an effort to ease the burden of skyrocketing prices in the Central European country.

The cap on egg and potato prices adds to a list of several other grocery items — including granulated sugar, wheat flour, sunflower oil, pork legs, milk and several chicken products — that have had price ceilings in Hungary since February.

Gasoline and diesel prices have also been capped at 480 forints ($1.20) per liter since November 2021 for people whose vehicles are registered in Hungary.

"We have looked at which staple products have become more expensive, with eggs and potatoes topping the list," said the Hungarian prime minister's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, at a news conference in Budapest.

The price caps will remain in place until Dec. 31, with the option to extend them after that.

The measures come as Hungary faces rising inflation and a weakening currency, propelled partly by a debate with the European Union, which has threatened to withhold billions in pandemic recovery funds and other resources over rule-of-law and democracy concerns.

Hungary's inflation in October hit 20.1%, a high not seen in more than 20 years and well over the EU average of 10.7%. Gulyas said the government expected Hungary's yearly inflation to be at least 13.5%, but that the cap on egg and potato prices could help reduce it by one or two tenths of a percent.

The Hungarian government in recent weeks has been working to rapidly implement a package of legal reforms aimed at satisfying the demands of the EU's executive, which has threatened to withhold billions of euros if safeguards against graft and political interference in the country's judiciary are not instituted.

The European Commission is expected to discuss those reforms later this month, and vote on releasing the funds in early December. At the news conference Wednesday, Gulyas said Hungary's government had done everything asked of it by the Commission.

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