Fidesz communications director Balázs Hidvéghi (pictured) and his wife might receive hundreds of thousands of forints worth of scholarships from one of the Pallasz Athéné foundations of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB), reports conservative daily and news site Magyar Nemzet.
According to Magyar Nemzet, Hidvéghi has been entitled to a HUF 300,000 (USD 1,108) monthly scholarship provided by one of the publicly funded foundations of the MNB for the past two years, adding to his salary as a spokesperson for Fidesz. However, it is unknown whether he has been collecting this scholarship.
Hidvéghi – who was also an aide to bank governor György Matolcsy – is eligible for the scholarship as a student of the Institute of Geography of the University of Pécs (PTE). Mrs Hidvéghi, who has a degree in law, also happens to be a student of the same institute.
According to an anonymous source of Magyar Nemzet who participates in the same program, the education is not too exacting and it lacks the strict requirements of other Ph.D. programs.
“You have to make phony lectures, essentially you do not even have to teach,” Magyar Nemzet’s source described the program.
Scholars of the Pallasz Athéné foundation’s Ph.D. program receive the net HUF 300,000 scholarship for 10 months of the year for three years. This is as much as a professor’s salary at PTE.
Both Mr and Mrs Hidvéghi lectured at a conference held by the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania in late June. According to Magyar Nemzet, nearly all the participants of the conference were scholars of Pallasz Athéné, and most of them were employees of one of the foundations or the National Bank itself. One of the lecturers is a head of department at the National Bank, and another works as a manager at the bank. Both are scholars of a Pallasz Athéné foundation.
Pallasz Athéné foundations of the National Bank have received HUF 266 billion (USD 982.87 million) worth of public funds from the MNB. The bank argued that the public funds “lost the quality of being a public asset” when it rejected public data requests regarding the foundations’ spending. The government then proposed a bill that would have concealed the spending of the so-called foundations, but the bill was eventually rejected by the Constitutional Court.