Budapest, January 12 (MTI) – The Government Debt Management Agency (AKK) on Thursday said it will stop selling residency bonds, citing favourable developments in the country’s financing conditions in the last year.
Applications for the purchase of residency bonds can be submitted until March 31, the AKK said.
Hungary’s finance minister said last year the residency bonds had been among government debt instruments that needed to be reassessed because of changes to the circumstances surrounding the financing of Hungary’s public debt.
The residency bond scheme was launched in 2013. Foreign nationals who buy securities backed by the bonds with a face value of 300,000 euros enjoy an accelerated application procedure for residence in Hungary.
The scheme has been criticised by opposition parties and the government said late 2016 it would review or phase it out early this year.
Opposition Jobbik insisted the sale of residency bonds would be only suspended temporarily and the party callled on the government “to terminate the entire bond business”.
Referring to the ruling party, Jobbik lawmaker Dániel Z Kárpát told a press conference that residency bonds were a “Fidesz business aimed at collecting dirty money”, and the current AKK decision did not prevent the reintroduction of the bond scheme at a later date.
Jobbik demanded the scheme’s termination and the publication of all available data connected to the residency bonds. Citing figures from last October, he said “more than four thousand migrants have been settled in Hungary through the residency bond scheme”. Jobbik objects to all migrants settling in Hungary, regardless of whether they are rich of poor, Karpat said.
The opposition Socialists said it is not enough to halt the sale of residency bonds but those who benefited from the scheme should be called to account concerning the “shameless profit” they made. Further, a special 75 percent tax should be imposed on these profits, the party said in a statement.
The cancellation of the scheme “cannot repair the damage caused by Fidesz corruption”. The heads of companies that have been selling residency bonds should be expected to present to parliament’s economic committee how many billions of forints they pocketed, the statement added.
The opposition LMP party said cancellation of the residency bond scheme does not nullify the “stolen” hundred billion forints. Group leader Erzsebet Schmuck said in a statement that the government had decided to cancel the scheme only to clear up traces of a scandal that had deprived the treasury of around one hundred billion forints. The cancellation of the scheme indirectly shows that the accusations of corruption were indeed justified, she added.
Fidesz said in response that Jobbik could not change the fact that, together with former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and the Socialists, they turned against the Hungarian people by voting against the constitutional amendment aimed at rejecting European Union migrant quotas. Jobbik had made its support for the constitutional amendment conditional on scrapping the residency bond scheme. In the face of the government’s refusal to do so at the time, Jobbik withheld its support.