Budapest (MTI) – The government will organise the third round of auctions for the sale of state-owned farmland from May, Lázár said on Thursday, adding that this should be the last round of auctions, according to plans.

The auctions will be held over a month with unchanged conditions on price and the size of land offered, he said. The state has so far gained 240 billion forints (EUR 771m) of revenue from auctions where 10,000 farmers bought land. “Only the names of ten of these farmers have been picked up and circulated by the press,” he said, adding that the aim of the land auctions — to give more farmers the opportunity to cultivate land — has been met.

On the topic of the law on Sunday shopping restrictions, Lázár said he considered the repeal of the law a mistake and did not take part in Tuesday’s vote upon the prime minister’s request. He said he believed that all working people deserved to have Sundays off. Lázár said he considered passing the Sunday shopping law in parliament in 2014 a victory but regarded the law’s repeal as one of his career’s “political defeats”.

The government office chief criticised the Socialist Party for its stance on the issue and said that anyone who now signs the party’s referendum initiative on the subject is risking their personal details.

As regards the question of restoring the 100 percent bonus rate on supplementary pay, Lázár said the matter would have to be resolved between employers and workers and the government could only get involved if it is asked to do so.

Answering a question, he said the referendum on migrant quotas and the one on the Sunday shopping law were originally planned to be held on the same day. He said the migrant quota referendum could be held late summer or in autumn.

On another subject, Lázár said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had asked all of his ministers to put together action plans on speeding up development projects financed by the European Union. He said a total of 710 state projects worth 3.5 trillion forints were running behind schedule.

Asked about a recent study prepared by the Századvég Institute recommending that the government should not build sports stadiums, Lázár said Századvég was not the one in charge of governing the country.

Asked about the US Department of State’s Report on Human Rights Practices which criticised Hungary for the state of human rights in the country, Lazar said the report was specifically assessing the handling of migrants and asylum seekers and not the state of democracy in Hungary. He said Hungary disagreed with the report’s finding that the state of democracy in Germany strengthened with that country allowing migrants to enter unchecked, while the state of Hungarian democracy weakened simply because Hungary decided to protect its borders.

Answering a question about whether teachers who participate in protests would in some way be penalised, Lázár said what teachers do outside of work was “none of the government’s business”, adding, at the same time, that they may be penalised if they violate strike laws.

Photo: MTI


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