Weekly government press briefing – Borders protection, land auctions and tax admin reform
Budapest, October 15 (MTI) – The government is likely to decide within a few days whether to seal the border with Croatia, the government office chief said on Thursday.
Janos Lazar told a weekly government press briefing that the decision would depend on Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s current talks in Brussels and on upcoming consultations in the next few days. There are no physical or technical obstacles in the way of sealing the border, he added.
The government is ready and able to seal the green border with Croatia and protect it both physically and through legal regulations, Lazar said.
Lazar expressed thanks to all those involved in the construction of the fence and to the Visegrad Group for the help they are providing to protect the border.
He said a decision on Hungarian steps against European Union quotas for distributing refugees would be made by mid-December.
Lazar: land auctions to start on November 16
Janos Lazar told a weekly press briefing that the auctions would be started in six counties and the details of the plots offered for sale were likely to be made public later on Thursday.
The government wants to get the best price possible for farmland he said, adding that it was inconceivable that sales would go ahead for prices below market value.
The Hungarian Development Bank (MFB) has offered a total of 150 billion forints (EUR 482m)credit line for the farmland sale scheme. The loans come with twenty years maturity with interest set at 1.95 percent in the first ten years under the arrangements of the central bank’s lending for growth scheme. The minimum loan available is 3 million forints and the maximum 300 million forints, he added.
The MFB has commissioned Budapest Bank to make a loan available to every buyer, he said.
Comprehensive tax admin reform planned
The government is planning comprehensive reform of tax administration, the head of the government office said on Thursday.
Janos Lazar said at the weekly government press briefing that a proposal on the structural transformation of the tax authority will be submitted to parliament soon. Also in the pipeline is are tax changes coming into effect in 2017-2018.
In order to boost competitiveness, it is necessary to introduce a service-oriented tax system which views taxpayers as partners rather than as enemies, Lazar said.
He said that starting on January 1, 2016, public administration duties can be processed online, which will signify a breakthrough.
Government demands Altus files be made public
The government wants documents connected with the Altus case to be made public, the government office chief said on Thursday, commenting on a contract the European Commission awarded to the company run by Hungary’s former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.
Further, the government objects to keeping committee hearings behind closed doors, Janos Lazar told the government’s weekly press briefing.
A closed hearing is being held by Walter Deffaa, Director General of Regional Policy at the European Commission, on Thursday.
Lazar said it was strange that the EC regularly criticised Hungary for a lack of transparency, yet it is handling this issue secretively. The government has not even been allowed to view related documents, he added.
Supporting opposition Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsany is an interference in Hungary’s domestic politics and contravenes the European Union’s basic treaty, he said. Lazar expressed hope that the European Parliament would pay sufficient attention to this matter.