Having concluded its investigation into the so-called “Bridge to the World of Work Program”, the Ministry of Human Resources will demand the National Roma Local Government (ORÖ) return some HUF 1.2 billion of EU funds spent on unwarranted, overpriced “prestige” projects instead of expanding Roma employment possibilities. The move threatens the very existence of ORÖ whose current president, István Hegedus, will announce his resignation tomorrow.
The professed goal of the HUF 5 billion (USD 18 million) program was to somehow expand labor opportunities for Hungary’s 700,000-strong Roma community. Initially, six or seven hundred people were to attend training programs with a view to setting up a national nonprofit network tasked with expanding Roma employment.
Despite hundreds of millions of forints being spent on the salaries of various program managers, car leasing fees and transportation costs, a single work brigade has yet to be formed. And when government auditors were scheduled to meet ORÖ representatives concerning the use of HUF 560 million within the framework of the Social Renewal Operative Program (TAMOP) to acquire seven properties, nobody from the local Roma government turned up.
Current government commissioner for Roma affairs Florián Farkas (pictured, centre, with Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázar, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog) was president of ORÖ until November 2014, when a new law prohibiting members of parliament from serving in local government came into force. Since resigning as ORÖ president, Farkas has reportedly not been able to account for several hundred millions of ORÖ funds spent at his behest.
Hegedus will announce his resignation at a press conference to be held on Tuesday, writes index.hu.
(Unlike his predecessor, Hegedus is not a member of parliament and does not enjoy immunity from prosecution.-ed.)
If the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI) follows through in its threat to terminate the contract it signed in 2013 with the ORÖ, then the latter will be required to return some HUF 1.2 billion of EU funds.