Hungary spends $5.4 million training 1000 baby-sitters

August 12, 2015

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The National Roma Self-Government spent HUF 1.5 billion (USD 5.4 million) over three months training 1000 Roma women how to become “child-care technicians”, according to opposition Politics Can Be Different (LMP) politician Ákos Hadházy.

At a recent press conference, Hadházy expressed concern that EU money spent on the “Opportunity Growth” program did not go  primarily to critical skills training, but miscellaneous projects and events that greatly increased the cost of the project.  He believes the goal of the program could have been achieved for a fraction of the cost, especially as 300 of them ended up being hired by public institutions.

On Monday the LMP politician told ATV that 1000 Roma women were trained as child-care technicians over two or three months for HUF 1.5 billion (USD 5.4 million). Of this, he says HUF 500 million (USD 1.8 million) was paid out to program participants as a “sustenance grant” averaging HUF 500,000 (USD 1,800) per head.   Hadházy is concerned that the women were chosen not on the basis of need and aptitude but rather on the basis of who they knew, calling it a “chance to get easy money.”

Of even greater concern is the fact that the government spent HUF 1 million (USD 3,600) per head on training he maintains should not have cost more than HUF 60,000 (USD 215).

Like the controversial “Bridge to the World of Work” program,  “Opportunity Growth” was funded by the European Social Fund and administered jointly by the National Roma Self Government (ORÖ) and the Ministry for Human Resources (EMMI).  Hadházy cites as “serious additional costs” the HUF 25 million (USD 89,000) spent organizing receptions, the HUF 10 million (USD 36,000) on “sensitivity training” for nursery school directors and the HUF 100 million (USD 357,000) on “project management”.

He says the HUF 1.1. million (USD 4,000) spent on the opening ceremony at Podmaniczky Castle in Budapest’s District 17 was “cognitively dissonant” in light of the project’s objectives.   But this paled in comparison to the nearly HUF 10 million (USD 36,000) spent on the closing event held in the banquet room of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences earlier this week.

By his calculations, money spent on these two receptions alone should have been sufficient to cover the training costs of nearly 200 Roma women had the government simply sent them to existing programs offered by private, market-based operators.

Hadházy says the cost of the project was further inflated by five “sensitivity trainings” at various thermal bath resorts around the country at a cost of HUF 10 million–not for the Roma participants but for the directors of nursery schools and other child-care facilities.

The LMP politician says the government commissioner for Roma affairs, former ORÖ chairman Florian Farkas, receives a salary of HUF 1.2 million a month from the Office of the Prime Minister.   “I don’t know what he does for that money if he failed to notice that the government was spending HUF 1 million per head for a HUF 60,000 training,” says Hadházy.

He holds Farkas and Tamás Köpeczi-Bócz, former deputy state secretary responsible for coordinating EU projects and strategy (recently promoted to undersecretary), primarily responsible for misusing European Social Funds allocated for Roma advancement in Hungary.

“If they want to build a fence against those people who are destroying our futures and threatening the country, then it should not be erected at the border but rather around Florián Farkas and the Ministry for Human Resources,” protested Hadházy to ATV’s Olga Kálmán.

According to Hadházy, out of 1000 program participants, 300 women had received jobs offers from state institutions by the end of the program.  “If we knew there were 300 job openings, we could have advertised it, and these women could then have applied for the job”.

(In fairness to Farkas and company, it should be pointed out that without proper training the Roma women in question would probably not have qualified for the job.-ed.)

Hadházy also singles out the Türr István Training and Research Institute (TKKI) for blame, which he claims has been a major recipient of Roma advancement funds.  The politician says the institute supplied one- or two-day “trainings” for “Bridge to the World of Work” participants costing several hundred thousand forints per head.