Hungary is preparing to impose the world’s first tax on internet usage in the latest example of the unorthodox economic policies being pursued by President Viktor Orbán and his increasingly dominant Fidesz party.
Mihály Varga, economy minister, on Wednesday unveiled the plans, which include a charge of Ft150 (62 U.S. cents) for each gigabyte of internet data consumed. Mr Varga said the tax – to be paid by internet service providers – was a logical extension of levies on phone calls and text messages the government announced in 2011.
Neelie Kroes, the EU’s outgoing digital chief, told the Financial Times the measures would damage Hungary’s digital economy. “Unilateral Internet taxes are not a clever idea. It will increase internet access prices for consumers,” she said, noting that Hungary scored below the EU average for internet usage, broadband access and digital regulation.