Cost of moving Ministry for National Economy to Castle District to exceed $170 million

February 22, 2018

Gov't to spend $149 million on reconstructing recently renovated building in the Castle district
The Hungarian Royal Ministry of Finance in 1938 | Fortepan/EBNER

The Hungarian government will spend HUF 35-38 billion (USD 137.9-149.7 million) converting a recently renovated building in Budapest’s historic Castle District into the new home for the Ministry for National Economy over the next two and a half years, reports online daily 444.hu.

In accordance with the government’s ambitious plan to relocate key ministries and government offices to the district, the government designated the Szentháromság square building as the future headquarters of the ministry. Previously estimated to cost HUF 26.7 billion (USD 105.2 million), according to recently published public procurement data, the government plans to spend up to HUF 38 billion over the next two and a half years. Together with the HUF 5.4 billion (USD 21.3 million) cost of moving the previous occupants of the building into other properties, the final cost of the investment will be some USD 171 million.

The fancy building . . .

The extremely high cost of the investment is because the government intends to restore the building to its original neogothic-classicist form. The building was built in 1904 to house the Hungarian Royal Ministry of Finance. According to 444.hu, important buildings have stood on that site since the 15th century.

At the time of its completion, the building was criticized for its unusual size and eccentric ornaments compared to the simpler buildings of the neighborhood. A contemporary writer argued in 1911 that “cumbersome, giant buildings like this” do not fit into the Castle District, and such offices should be settled elsewhere.

Partially destroyed during the Second World War, it was then reconstructed in much simpler style. In 2013 the building underwent a renovation costing HUF 723 million (2.8 million).

. . . that is too small for the ministry

Although moving the Ministry for National Economy into the former building of the Hungarian Royal Ministry of Finance is consistent with the government’s retrograde policies, from a strictly practical point of view it makes little sense as the building will only be able to house some 1,000 people, whereas the ministry currently employs more than 2,000.