Budapest (MTI) – Hungary’s government has ordered the freeze of construction of a section of the M4 motorway due to suspicion of cartel activity raised by the European Commission.

National Development Minister Miklos Sesztak said on Tuesday that the government disagrees with the commission’s position, and final decision to halt the project will only be made if the suspicion is substantiated. The government wants a full-scale investigation as public monies are involved, he added.

Five construction firms won the tender to build a 29km section between the towns of Abony and Fegyvernek in 2013. They began work on the project in 2014 and planned completion for the end of 2016.

Last week, the cabinet chief Janos Lazar said Hungary’s proposal to go ahead with a project to build the section of the M4 motorway from Budapest in the direction of the Romanian border would be shelved and an alternative plan considered which would involve creating a four-lane highway connecting Szolnok, in central Hungary, to the existing M5 motorway.

Hungary submitted the M4 project to the European Commission late in 2013 but withdrew it after the Commission “raised concerns about the high costs”.

Lazar said the investment in its current form would be suspended and a new public procurement procedure launched. In the meantime, it must be clarified how the construction costs came about and how Brussels came to suspect cartel activity, he said.

News portal Index reported earlier that the cost per kilometre of 4 billion forints had raised suspicion in Brussels of cartel activity.


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