The government offers a partnership to municipalities and “will talk to everybody to ensure that fundamental public services are continued” in the next year, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday.
Gergely Gulyás told a press conference after the general assembly of the federation of cities with county rights (MJVSZ) that the government expected its partners to economise “in return” with their resources.
Gulyás said Hungary’s 25 largest cities would face an extra burden totalling at 135 billion forints (EUR 131.7m) in increased energy costs next year. “This is in fact a result of major European disputes about the war and especially about the energy sanctions launched in response to the war,” he said.
The government and local authorities will have to rely on each other in this situation, Gulyas said, and asked local councils to reduce their “extra costs” but maintain “essential public services”. They would still need government assistance, he added, and said the government would talk to the municipalities and help out.
“There is only one solution on the long run: energy sanctions should be replaced by a policy aimed at stabilising energy prices in Europe,” Gulyás said.
Gulyás called for “sensible” European policies, which “do not favour Russia, the aggressor, through soaring gas prices, but which hurt the aggressor and cause no harm to Europe”, and added that “so far the energy sanctions have proven otherwise.”
Gulyás noted that national energy company MVM had recently offered municipalities various deals in which they could pay “different prices” for their energy with no obligation to pay several months in advance, but added that “issues around prices have not yet been fully settled”.
Károly Szita, the head of the federation, said municipalities should work to “use the least possible amount of energy next year, but in any case less energy than in 2022”. He said fundamental services should remain, but some municipal institutions could stay closed for the winter months. He suggested talks between the government and ailing municipalities to start in the second half of October or November.