(MTI) – Co-leader of opposition E-PM Timea Szabo has launched a complaint over the government’s recent investigation into the use of Norway Funds by civil organisations.
Szabo, who is a lawmaker who sits as an independent, told a press conference on Wednesday that she had filed a complaint with the Central Investigating Chief Prosecutor’s Office over the legality of the Government Control Office (Kehi)’s probe into programmes financed from the Norway Civil Fund. She said the civil organisations targeted by Kehi were all on a “government blacklist”. She insisted that Kehi has no authority to act under Hungarian or international laws. She called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to stop the “political witch hunt” against civil organisations.
Several civil groups have complained over Kehi’s request for data and declined to comply with its procedure on the ground that it was illegal for a government body to examine funds received from another country.
At the same time, weekly Heti Valasz published an article stating that an audit by Ernst and Young backs concerns raised by the government over the distribution of funds from the Norway Civil Grant. The article, which is to appear in the weekly’s Thursday issue, said the consortium that carries out the distribution (Okotars Foundation, Autonomia Foundation, Foundation for the Development of Democratic Rights and Karpatok Foundation) is “extremely informally networked” and that the Hungarian government was not the first one to raise its voice over this matter.
A draft audit report by Ernst and Young obtained by the paper examined the 2008-2010 period and echoes the criticism of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Earlier in June the Hungarian government met with the Financial Mechanism Committee (FMC), the body overseeing Norway Fund contributions, concerning Hungary’s method of disbursing Norway Grants, and said that “the donor countries were very concerned about the negative effect that the lack of a National Focal Point has had on the implementation of programmes in Hungary”.
Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein decided on May 9 to suspend further disbursement of funds to Hungary. They stated concern that the Hungarian government had assigned the allocation of the funds to state-owned Szechenyi Programme Office Nonprofit Kft from January.
A government representative at the time said that the disbursement of funds is expected to re-start in July when officials from the fund pay a visit to Hungary.