Minister of Hungary’s chancellory says past five years a success

June 4, 2015

Giró-Szász András; Lázár János

Minister overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár and state secretary for government communications András Giró-Szász held their weekly super press conference today.

Lázár: OECD report on Hungary proves the past five years a success . . .

Echoing statements made by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a speech delivered last Friday, the Chancellor said a recent OECD report analyzing Hungary’s economy, business environment, social trends and health-care system proves government efforts to stabilize the country’s economy over the past five years were successful because “[the government was] able to reverse Hungary’s negative economic trends and significantly improve Hungary’s international competitiveness”.

Lázár said Orbán called on all ministries named in the report to prepare an “action plan” by the end of the month to address problem areas in education, health-care, excessive bureaucracy, the Hungarian state’s international competitiveness, tax administration and administrative obstacles to business. He said the government will spend the next three years addressing these areas.

Gov’t to work with local municipalities to prepare for expansion of Paks

The government will create a monthly forum comprised of mayors representing 41 municipalities around Paks, local parliamentary representatives and professionals. The purpose of the forum will be to act as a podium for the government to inform local citizens and stakeholders about the Paks expansion over the next ten years.

Lázár said he and the mayor of Paks will lead the forum, which will inform the public, request information on behalf of the public and play a role in decision-making. He did not elaborate on the kind of decision-making credentials the forum would have.

The government will endow this forum with HUF 1 billion to “support local municipalities”.

Hungary broadband roll-out

Lázár said a number of companies are working with the government on a plan to expand the availability of broadband internet around the country. The project is set to begin this summer.

“This means that by 2018 there will be very cheap, very affordable, high-capacity broadband internet in every Hungarian household.”

Public works scheme

Lázár repeated statements he made during last week’s press conference about the change to the government’s public works scheme. Under the new program, public works scheme employees would be allowed to take 120 days leave to fill seasonal employment opportunities in the agriculture and construction sectors. However, if the public works employees don’t use the opportunity to work the seasonal jobs, they will lose the status that otherwise qualifies them to be eligible for participating in the public works scheme itself.

Lázár went to Brussels

Lázár said he visited Brussels to talk about many pressing issues, including the closure of the 2007-2013 funding period. He said the European Commission says Hungary will not lose the opportunity to call down any funds for the period. He is confident that Hungary will be able to settle outstanding fund suspension disputes with the Commission by June.

Hungary is the first European Union Member State to draft a new law on public procurements, he said. The law had two purposes: transparency and making businesses in Hungary operate in accordance with the law.

Lázár also spoke at length about complaining to the European Commission administrators about a public procurement that was won by a consortium including a company owned by opposition party Democratic Coalition, led by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány.

The road from Szolnok

Lázár talked about what he calls “the European Commission’s stopping” of the M4 freeway connecting the city of Szolnok to Budapest. He said the government plans to build a stretch of road to make up for the segment of the M4 that wasn’t completed.

He said the government is trying to get back funds from the consortium responsible for building the doomed M4 project.

Lázár calls on Hungarian Paralympic Committee president to resign

Lázár again called on Hungarian Paralympic Committee president Zsolt Gömöri to resign because his presence in the organization causes more and more harm to it every day he remains.

Immigration

When asked about the government’s new xenophobic campaign against immigrants, Lázár danced around the topic by pointing out that his mandate (and the mandate of Hungarian politicians) is to work for the Hungarian people and to distribute Hungarian tax revenues in a way that enhances the lives of Hungarians.

He said it was important for the Hungarian government to know how Hungarians feel about such issues, hence the national consultation and accompanying billboard campaign (at a total cost to Hungarian taxpayers of some USD 4.7 million-ed.).

Lázár said the  controversial campaign’s methods are debatable but the government’s intention is to get the public to focus on the issue.

Tobacco concessions ruled unlawful by European Court of Human Rights

Lázár admitted that a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in favor of a retailer who was deprived of his right to sell tobacco products as a result of Lázár’s own tobacco concession law would cost the Hungarian government hundreds of millions of forints.

He said the government will have to pay HUF 4.8 million in damages to the retailer, in addition to paying for the HUF 1.9 million in legal fees. He said there are around 45-50 such cases and the government will compensate these individuals.

Hungarian clandestine service snooping on lawyers?

Lázár avoided a question by a member of the press regarding statements made by the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Attorneys alleging that Hungary’s clandestine service is actively snooping on Hungarian lawyers. Lázár said such snooping would be illegal and questions of this nature should be posed to Minister of Justice László Trocsányi.