The government is planning to make changes to next year’s budget bill to ensure more funds for a programme aimed at boosting childbirth, to finance public infrastructure projects in connection with the Paks nuclear plant upgrade, and for tourist developments, the head of the government office told his weekly press conference on Thursday. The 1.7 million people who took part in the government’s “national consultation” survey support the government’s positions on the issues that were discussed in the questionnaire, he said.
Government to reallocate funds to support families, finance Paks projects
János Lázár said that 98 billion forints (EUR 31.8m) would be reallocated. Fully 20 billion forints will be rechannelled for projects in Paks such as preparations for a new bridge across the river Danube, and home and road construction, while 16.4 billion forints would be reallocated for tourism. Other reallocations will go towards the government’s new family support programme.
Commenting on recent figures indicating a GDP growth of over 4 percent, Lázár said the Hungarian economy is on a “stable and balanced path”.
Referring to a European anti-fraud office OLAF report about the transparency of EU funds, Lazar said in Hungary “twice as many people submit complaints” compared with the European average. At the same time, out of 41,000 EU subsidy contracts, the investigations concluded last year revealed shortcomings in 13 cases affecting 4 percent of EU funding. According to OLAF, the most serious corruption case in Hungary was the metro 4 scandal, he added.
In response to a question about the revamp of the third metro line, he said the government had originally provided 137.5 billion forints support as requested by the Budapest council, and the EU had approved this “100 percent”. As it turned out later, however, even the cheapest bid for the related public procurement was above this amount, so a tender for a reduced project was invited. But even this amended tender only attracted bids above the 137.5 billion forints available, he said, adding that it would be difficult for the government to finance “more than 100 percent” because the EU would not allow this. Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos will be expected to provide a report concerning plans for metro 3 at the next cabinet meeting, he added.
Nationwide survey respondents back government’s policies
Wednesday was the last day for voters to return their answers to the questionnaire by mail or online.
Those who participated in the survey support the fence on Hungary’s southern border, low energy prices as well as the position that it should be up to parliament to set taxation policy, vote on welfare and job support schemes and set energy prices, János Lázár said at his regular weekly press briefing.
The government intends to stay in contact with voters concerning these matters, as there a number of related issues the government has to deal with, such as the infringement procedure the European Union has launched against Hungary over the border fence, he added.
Lázár also commented on recent press reports suggesting that Germany has proposed tying receipt of EU cohesion funds to compliance with standards regarding the rule of law for the bloc’s next funding cycle. He said that despite being “one of the biggest beneficiaries” of these funds, Germany had been the one to commit the “greatest violation” of the EU’s basic principles by “letting millions of illegal migrants into its territory” in 2015 and breaching the EU’s rules on border control.
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