The leaders of 18 localities have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, calling on him to convene a national energy summit and start talks with local authorities on providing aid to weather the energy crisis.
Local authorities are in dire economic straits, the letter said, and the government should act swiftly to ensure that public services are maintained. The energy crisis and soaring prices have driven a cost of living crisis that has resulted in an increasing number of people turning to local authorities for welfare support, even as the municipalities themselves are fighting to maintain basic services, the letter said. The national energy summit would be an opportunity to table solutions to the problem, it said.
The signatories, none of whom belong to the ruling parties, said they were aware that “the state budget is also in a difficult situation, for both domestic and external reasons”. At the same time, “the government is in talks on supporting church-run schools, but there has been no mention of maintaining state-run kindergartens and creches.”
Government support could be funded by handing back local authorities’ tax revenues taken away from them under a government decree, the letter said, referring to a government decision to strip municipalities of their corporate tax revenues in 2020. It could also be funded from the extra profit flowing into state coffers from higher energy prices, it said.
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The mayors are also initiating talks on the price of electricity produced in the Paks nuclear plant, saying the electricity produced there for 12 forints/kWh is sold to cities at over 400 forints/kWh (EUR 0.94). While the nuclear power plant’s electricity output could satisfy the demand of public services, “we think it is unacceptable for a state-owned company to profiteer from a plant built as a community investment to the detriment of Hungarian localities.”
Avoiding a social crisis and keeping Hungarian operational are a national interest, the letter said.
The letter was signed by the mayors of Budapest, Baja, Balmazújváros, Budakalász, Budaörs, Érd, Gödöllő, Hódmezávásárhely, Kazincbarcika, Nyírbátor, Pécs, Pomáz, Salgótarján, Tatabánya, Szeged, Szentendre, Szombathely and Vác.
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