Budapest, June 15 (MTI) – The government will make every effort to maintain its utility cuts programme, Zoltan Kovacs, the government spokesman, told a press conference on Monday.
Kovacs reacted to press reports suggesting that the government would halt the scheme, and said that Hungary is in “intensive talks” with the European Union and “whatever may happen, the government is committed to preserving the results of the programme.
The opposition Democratic Coalition called on the government to release a letter the justice minister sent to the EU’s energy commissioner in connection with cuts to utility fees, the deputy leader of DK said on Monday.
The minister, Laszlo Trocsanyi, indicated in his letter to Miguel Arias Canete that the government is ready to make concessions to Brussels, Csaba Molnar said, citing press reports.
The government is considering scrapping the scheme with the result that electricity and gas prices will rise, Molnar said, citing a report by weekly hvg.hu which referred to Trocsanyi’s letter dated May 8. Whereas no timeframe was set down, the letter’s phrasing suggests measures will be taken sooner than later, hvg.hu said, adding that the justice ministry has admitted to the letter’s existence while refusing to comment on its content, citing an “ongoing confidential procedure between the Hungarian government and the European Commission”.
Brussels maintains the scheme contravenes EU competition rules.
Molnar insisted that the Fidesz 2014 election win was largely thanks to the scheme. But it has come at the cost of almost bankrupting utility providers while failing to reach out to the poorest households, he added.
The leader of the opposition Socialists said that portal’s report raises the question as to whether or not the prime minister is planning to scrap the scheme. If such a step is indeed planned, Prime Minister Viktor Orban should reveal the rate of electricity and gas prices increases, Jozsef Tobias told a press conference.
He noted that the budget does not contain any allocation for any ensuing compensation to households.
But of the government’s aim is to act in the interest of utility companies, the question arises as to whether it wants to ensure market prices for a new entrants, Tobias said.