Budapest, July 9 (MTI) – Planned government changes in the tax system require a new structure, government office chief Janos Lazar said, adding that this may entail appointing a new management.
Lazar said he was offering his “personal opinion” on Economy Minister Mihaly Varga’s recent comments — the minister said changes to tax office management were being considered in light of the government’s handling of the US entry ban scandal last year.
Lazar said he did have further information but could not comment at this point. Prime Minister Viktor Orban plans a “complete reform of tax procedures” before the end of the year, he added.
Last year’s scandal and the government’s response to it has weakened NAV’s current leadership and public trust in the organisation, Varga told weekly Figyelo published on Thursday. NAV chief Ildiko Vida, among the six officials barred from the US, may or may not remain in her post, he indicated.
On a different subject, Lazar said the storm that hit Hungary on Wednesday had caused damages in the several billions of forints and the government will soon decide if emergency aid is necessary.
Disaster prevention forces received some 4,500 emergency calls in connection with Wednesday’s storm, Gyorgy Bakondi, former head of the national disaster management authority said. Bakondi said numerous areas were suffering power outages while parts of Borsod County were short on drinking water.
Asked about the phenomenon of more and more shops claiming to be markets to get around Sunday opening restrictions, Lazar told the Thursday news conference that “markets are not shops and shops are not markets,” a rule which Hungarian-owned companies must also respect.
He said the economy ministry was right to take action in such cases, as the move “is clearly an abuse of the law”. Andras Giro-Szasz, state secretary for government communications, said government offices were looking into the matter.
Lazar also commented on critical remarks concerning his work made by Budapest mayor Istvan Tarlos. The government office chief said that the cabinet’s Budapest-related policies were about the capital and not about the mayor. “It’s not Istvan Tarlos who is important but Budapest because there are huge opportunities here for Hungary to get further forward in the world,” he said, adding that Budapest should have the characteristic of a modern, open, youthful and intelligent capital. Irrespective of whether the mayor “disses” members of the government or not, the government will provide the capital with all the assistance it can get, Lazar said, adding that the cabinet has approved a 340 billion forint development plan “which is generous considering that the European Union is not giving a single penny.”
On the topic of Budapest’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics and a related study, he said international auditor had prepared one already and another is in the making, 80 percent of which is ready and the rest will be completed by November. There is nothing to hide in it, and they are prepared to publish it, he added.
On the subject of the Budapest Pride festival, he said other people’s private lives were none of his business and neither is he interested in them.
Commenting on transport and the mooted merger of state rail company MAV and the national bus carrier Volan, he said this was among several possible ideas being considered by the government as part of an overall plan to modernise public transport. The issue be taken up by the cabinet in the autumn, he said, adding that the question of privatising the companies had not been raised.
Lazar also commented on compensation for losses suffered by the clients of failed brokerage Quaestor, saying: “the banks, led by OTP Bank, are blocking the possibility of one-off compensation”, given their appeal to the Constitutional Court. Until there is a ruling, the Investor Protection Fund can make payments of up to 20,000 euros per client, and there is a related total of 88 billion forints.