During 2019 Christmas the state obtained a huge carbon power plant from Lőrinc Mészáros, the biggest government-close oligarch who has become the wealthiest Hungarian by winning many public procurements in the last few years. The opposition said then that the deal was harmful to the state since the company makes a loss. Now it seems that the government had to pay four times more than previously thought to keep the plant operational.
According to 444.hu, the state’s energy company, the MVM Group, signed the deal with Mészáros’s Opus last Christmas when, self-evidently, people did not concentrate on such news, at all. Non-governmental media and opposition parties slammed the contract then saying that the 17.44 billion HUF (EUR 50.3 million) they paid for the plant was too much.
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Now it seems that they even paid more to keep the plant operational. Thanks to an FOI (freedom of information) request, Bertalan Tóth, chairman of the Socialist Party, received the official documents of the deal showing that the state had
to pay a further 57.7 billion HUF (EUR 166.4 million)
to consolidate the plant and keep it operational. As a result, the final sum for which they bought the energy plant rose to 75.14 billion HUF (EUR 216.7 million). Mr Tóth cleared that he received a lot of documents, but there are still missing ones for which he applied to the court.
Everybody knew that the plant was making loss between 2017 and 2019 when Lőrinc Mészáros led it. 444.hu writes that when the government-close oligarch overtook the leadership of the company, he took 11.2 billion HUF out of it as a dividend. However, the former German owner saved that sum for the modernisation of the plant and the reduction of the damages it does to the environment.
Interestingly, the documents Mr Tóth received show that the MVM Group did not want to decide about the deal alone. Thus, they asked Andrea Bártfai-Mager, minister without portfolio for managing national wealth, for an actual decision in the issue. The Socialists say that MVM Group was not sure whether the deal was worth it for Hungary and that is why they wanted to
move responsibility higher.
The documents include the analysis of PricewaterhouseCoopers about the plant, which mentions many risk factors, but they are not readable since all of them have been obscured.
The Socialists say that what happened is forbidden state aid to a government-close oligarch, so they are now thinking about turning to the European Council in the issue.
Interestingly, the Mátrai plant produces 15 pc of the Hungarian electricity by burning lignite. The technology is outdated and, based on EU regulations, the plant will have to be closed in some years. However, there will be
Huge EU aids helping the redevelopment and recultivation.