PM Orban: Changes to road toll system to benefit Hungarians
Budapest, December 12 (MTI) – The planned changes in the road toll system will work to benefit Hungarians and the introduction of optional e-stickers for individual counties will be an improvement on the whole, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.
Orban told public radio Kossuth that drivers would have the option to pay an annual 5,000 forints (EUR 16) for using the motorway within a county instead of the annual 41,000 forints charged earlier for the whole country.
Commenting on the introduction of a toll on the M0 Budapest bypass, he said the aim is not to impose a tax on the agglomeration. The move comes as a part of the introduction of the county-by-county toll system, he insisted.
Orban said he was in agreement with the mayor of the Obuda district in northern Budapest that the Megyeri bridge over the Danube was a city bridge and this stretch of the bypass could be handled differently.
Asked about the expected revenue from the new toll system, Orban said there are estimates but facts can only be revealed after the first year, when it becomes clear how people adapt to the changes.
A proposal to introduce mandatory drug tests in schools and elsewhere is aimed at curbing the drug mafia. The drug mafia is growing in Hungary and concerns have been raised over the use of new synthetic drugs, he said, adding that the government had decided to clean up the country’s drug cartels within this parliamentary cycle.
Those who consume drugs cannot be entrusted with the fight against the drug mafia, so the plan to extend the drug test to politicians, journalists and people holding public office is with the intent to clarify “who stands where”, the prime minister said. Meanwhile parents should be offered help so their children do not become victims, he said, adding that drug tests must be available at every school upon parental request.
Orban called it his “personal strategy” that gas pipelines should bring gas to Hungary from every neighbouring country.
It is not the first time that there is a gas crisis in Central Europe because of a crisis in Ukraine, and this must be addressed, he said. It is a “basic national interest” that gas should come to Hungary bypassing Ukraine.
The Slovak-Hungarian gas interconnector will start operating on Jan. 1., but this is only a first option and a partial solution because of the size of the pipes. Deliveries are needed from the south, through Serbia, too, he added. Pipelines are in place to deliver gas from Austria, and Romania and Croatia have work to do in this respect, he said.
“Slowly Hungary will get to a stage where its citizens, their families and households enjoy energy security,” he said.
Orban said he was optimistic regarding the Paks nuclear plant upgrade and noted that Russia signed a contract with Finland, which was similar to the ones signed with Hungary a few days later. Asked about chances for Russia to break the agreements, Orban said all contracts can be breached but the consequences are well outlined in the Paks contracts.
On the subject of the US entry ban issued on the head of tax authority NAV, Orban said a legal procedure had been set under way and its outcome must be seen. Every chance is given for the Americans to present their evidence in a fair procedure and in full publicity and for NAV chairwoman Ildiko Vida to respond. He said things were moving in a direction of transparency.
“Those who claim something must present the evidence and those who are charged can defend themselves,” he said.
Asked about the recent loss in the government’s popularity, Orban said the government is concerned about everything except its popularity. He said the opposition is still operating in “campaign mode” but this is only natural. The government must start to govern, including pursuing economic interests. In connection with planned anti-government demonstrations he said “this is what Fidesz and the [allied] Christian Democrats had wanted in the 1980s: freedom of speech and assembly.”
Photo: MTI – Szilard Koszitcsak