The soaring energy and utility prices cause almost insoluble problems for every local government in Hungary, including Budapest. Since the public transport system is in the hands of Budapest, their task is to find a way to keep it operable even during the energy crisis. Here is what the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony, said about the issue in an interview.
Karácsony was elected to lead the capital of Hungary in 2019, long before the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. That year marked important opposition victories in many Hungarian rural municipialities and Budapest. United opposition candidates won several districts in Budapest, providing a comfortable majority for Karácsony. Furthermore, after a 9-year-long Fidesz leadership, the capital’s financial background was solid. Now, the latter is only the past.
Neither the Budapest Transport Company (BKV) nor the company responsible for street lighting has an electricity purchase contract, and nothing is on the horizon either. Karácsony told Népszava that they have the best team of professionals in that regard, so they would find a solution to buy electricity cheaper. However, he added there might come a moment Budapest would not be able to pay its bills. But they will never shut the public transportation or street lighting.
He said about allegations that the government would take the public transport system from Budapest that it is not profitable, so the administration does not want it.
Last week, he said he was sure they would have loans or even unpaid bills by the end of December. A reason is that the government raised the solidarity tax of Budapest significantly, and they will have to pay more than HUF 55 billion (EUR 137 million) into the central budget. However, he added the state budget was in an even bigger trouble than Budapest’s.
“We will survive even if we die”, Karácsony said sarcastically. There are no city leaders in Europe who can say what will happen. The mayor cleared that difficult times would come.
ATV reported that other Hungarian mayors are also in a difficult position everywhere in the country, regardless of their party affiliation. The government remains silent about a possible compensation to help local governments operate nurseries, kindergartens, and social institutions. Meanwhile, some villages in Baranya county, southwestern Hungary, already save money by shutting down the street lights between 10 PM and 6 AM.
Source: Népszava, ATV
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