Budapest, January 3 (MTI) – The opposition E-PM alliance is asking European institutions to probe the costs of a motorway section in eastern Hungary.
E-PM co-leader Benedek Javor told a press conference on Friday that the M4 section between Abony and Fegyvernek had cost a total 110 billion forints (EUR 370m), 3.8 billion per kilometre. This, he insisted, is the costliest such project “in the history of Hungary’s motorways”.
Javor noted that the section, built on flatland, was one billion forints more expensive per kilometre than another section of the M7 built in rolling countryside in the west.
E-PM is turning to the European Commission’s anti-fraud office and the European Court of Audit to establish whether national and EU funds were appropriately utilised and whether there was any evidence of graft or kickbacks to a political party, Javor said.
In his appeal to the European forums, Javor said there was a suspicion that a part of the funds paid to contractors, including a company associated with the ruling Fidesz party, may have landed with Fidesz as illegal party financing.
Javor noted that his party had approached the government’s supervisory agency and the State Audit Office, but said that they received no answer to their questions.
In response to Javor’s announcement, the National Development Ministry said in a statement that the EU routinely monitored the financing of any major project. The EU consented to providing support for the construction, and had already started making routine checks regarding the project’s necessity, cost of construction and its environmental aspects.
The ministry said that the average per-kilometre cost of motorway construction was 2.3 billion forints in 2013, but the 29km section in question involved building 27 facilities, including 6 bridges, the cost of which had raised the budget by 37 billion forints. “Unavoidable extra costs arising from local geographic and water conditions accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total budget,” it said, adding that contractors had been selected in a public tender. Companies with the lowest bids were awarded the contract, the statement noted.