Socialists call on Hungarian government to cut gas prices
The opposition Socialist Party (MSZP) on Thursday called on the government to cut household gas prices, arguing that global energy prices have fallen significantly since 2014.
Speaking at a press conference, Socialist Party group leader Bertalan Tóth said that over the last three years the government “has ignored the fact that global energy prices have fallen by significant margins”.
Citing data from the 2016 balance sheets of Magyar Földgázkereskedő, the gas trading unit of the state-owned Hungarian Electricity Works (MVM), Tóth said the difference between global gas prices and what Hungarian families paid for gas was more than 50 billion forints (EUR 163.4m) last year.
Applied to the country’s annual retail gas consumption of 3.5 billion cubic metres, this means that including VAT, Hungarian families pay close to 19 forints more for one cubic metre of natural gas than the gas trading unit does on the international market, he added.
It also means that the average household spends almost an extra 22,000 forints on gas each year, Tóth said, arguing that the government was making families pay an extra two months’ worth of gas bills, taking a total of 64.5 billion forints out of their pockets.
He said the Socialist Party had called for cuts to household gas prices on nine occasions since 2014, all of which he said had been rejected by ruling Fidesz.
Tóth said his party would submit a bill to parliament in the autumn session with a view to lowering gas prices.
Fidesz responded saying that Hungary had the highest gas prices in Europe relative to wages when the Socialists were in power between 2002-2010. The Socialists had promised not to raise the price of gas “and then raised it three-fold”, the party said in a statement. “Fidesz on the other hand … lowered the prices of household gas, heating and electricity by 25 percent each, allowing families to save an average 170,000 forints a year,” the party added.