1 At its meeting today, the Monetary Council of the National Bank of Hungary reviewed the latest economic and financial developments and decided to leave the central bank base rate unchanged.

2 The move to widen the exchange rate band of the currency allowed to reduce international reserves and the costs of holding foreign exchange reserves. Accordingly, in 2002 the general government sector will meet its entire borrowing requirement by issuing domestic government securities. Issuing government securities in 2002 will reduce substantially the outstanding stock of sterilisation instruments held by the NBH, and allow will allow the Bank to reduce to zero its outstanding three-month bills towards the end of December 2002. Simultaneously with the decision to reduce outstanding NBH bills to zero, the Monetary Council also decided to suspend daily purchases of foreign currency in equal amounts from 1 January 2002.

3 The Monetary Council also passed a decision on the schedule of its meetings to be held during the first half of 2002. The dates of the meetings are as follows:

7 January, 21 January, 4 February, 18 February, 4 March, 18 March, 8 April, 22 April, 6 May, 21 May, 10 June, 24 June.

4 The dates of the electronic publication of the Quarterly Report on Inflation in the course of the first six months of 2002 are as follows:

26 February 2002

22 May 2002

5 Based on the Strategy Paper and the Regular Report on Hungary's Progress Towards Accession, published by the European Commission on 13 November, the Monetary Council was briefed on Hungary's advance on the road to European Union membership. It stated that the accession process had been proceeding at an encouraging pace. Over the recent period, the NBH has implemented all the tasks related to harmonisation with European norms.