Special parliament session on home-care service fees, FX borrowers fails to reach quorum
A special session of parliament initiated by opposition parties to debate their proposals on increasing home-care fees and helping troubled forex mortgage holders failed to reach quorum on Friday because lawmakers of the ruling alliance stayed away from the session.
Only 38 MPs showed up for the session which ended after the speeches prior to the agenda.
In her address, Jobbik’s Andrea Varga-Damm criticised the ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance for missing the session. She noted that in the summer of 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that evictions and their consequences were a bigger burden on the state than intervening in the situation of forex debtors. Since then,
the ruling parties have failed to do anything about the situation,
Párbeszéd’s Tímea Szabó also criticised the ruling parties for their absence. She said that while Fidesz and the Christian Democrats talk about the protection of Christian values, families with small children, invalids and elderly people were being evicted from their homes. She said the number of people threatened by eviction has doubled to two million. Meanwhile, Hungarian banks saw record profits last year, she added. Szabo said she hoped the government would raise home-care fees five-fold, “the same way that two of Viktor Orban’s cabinet members will have their salaries raised from one million to five million forints”.
Antal Csardi of LMP said the government would have shown respect for family caregivers and forex borrowers by showing up to the session. He said tens of thousands of families, children and elderly people were facing the threat of losing their homes. Csardi said the opposition’s proposals would significantly increase caregiver subsidies and put an end to forced evictions.
The Democratic Coalition’s Gergely Arató said that while the government had promised to raise caregiver subsidies, it did not actually understand the problems of family caregivers or foreign currency loan holders.
Bertalan Tóth, the Socialist Party’s group leader, said Fidesz only cared about the rich. He said
government spending on social welfare programmes was down compared with 2010, arguing that the government had not raised either caregiver subsidies, the minimum pension or family benefits. And while banks made serious profits in the past year, 110,000 families face eviction,
Prior to the start of the session, the human resources ministry issued a statement saying that the opposition’s call for the special parliamentary session lacked credibility. The ministry argued that “the left’s role in the development of the forex mortgage crisis is clear”.
The ministry said it was also clear that the opposition parties wanted to use troubled forex loan holders “for their selfish political ploy”.
The statement said the government had enacted a number of measures to help troubled forex loan holders, adding that the forint conversion of forex loans had “ended the era of foreign currency loans”.
Banks had to account for their use of “unfair” FX spreads and their unilateral contract changes. Thanks to the measures aimed at holding banks accountable, repayment instalments fell by about 30 percent, relieving families of some 1,000 billion forints (EUR 3.1bn) of debt, the ministry added.
On the topic of home-care fees, the ministry said the government was committed to raising them, adding that it has pursued a broad dialogue in the matter. The decision on raising home-care fees could come as early as this autumn, they added.
The ministry noted, at the same time, that the government had already increased both the basic and the raised home-care fees. In addition, it has introduced a new fee category to help those taking care of family members with the most serious health conditions, the statement said.
Parliament will next meet in September.