Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár held his 35th marathon press conference today, reports Hungarian news site Index.hu. Mercifully, it was the last such press conference this year.
Sell-off of public lands
Lázár said that of the 165,000 hectares of agricultural lands put up for auction by the government, 102,000 hectares have been purchased. In total, the sales have brought in revenues of HUF 142 billion (USD 500 million).
Despite government assurances that no foreigners would be allowed to buy agricultural lands, some ten foreigners have reportedly done so, including eight individuals with dual citizenship.
Incentives to make more babies
Lázár said the government would reduce the sales tax on new homes from 27 percent to 5 percent to encourage construction and the purchase of new homes.
The minister said families with two children will receive up to HUF 2.6 million (USD 9,000) in subsidies towards the purchase of a new home. Families that agree to have three children – even if they currently have none – will receive HUF 10 million (USD 35,000) in subsidies plus a 25-year mortgage loan of up to HUF 10 million with an interest rate not higher than 3 percent.
Lázár said the government is still working out the details of repayment in case couples aren’t able to have three kids within 10 years.
He said the government has completely removed itself from the Bálint Hóman statue controversy. Prime Minister Orbán had refused to get involved and it would have to be resolved without the involvement of the government (despite the Ministry of Justice giving a foundation named after a convicted war criminal a HUF 15 million (USD 5,200) grant with which to erect a statue to said war criminal prior to the Budapest court overturning the conviction posthumously-ed.).
Lázár did not confirm that undersecretary László L. Simon was behind the idea to erect the statue to Hóman in Székesfehérvár.
The minister also talked about the Paks 2 nuclear power plant expansion project. He said the European Commission has launched three separate proceedings against Hungary over the plan:
- an infringement proceeding regarding the legality of Hungary awarding a no-bid contract to Russia to build the expansion;
- an investigation into whether the project violates EU law by involving “restricted state subsidies”; and,
- an investigation into whether Hungary withheld important data in its plans for the expansion.
Doctors without borders
Lázár said Hungary’s hospitals simply cannot compete with wages offered at Western and Northern European hospitals. The government could not solve this problem by simply “putting ink to paper”. He claims fewer doctors are leaving Hungary now than earlier because the government has launched programs to keep them here.
Raises for those working in public administration
According to Lázár, raises in pay will be part of his restructuring of public administration. He said the first round of raises would affect employees of the government’s new regional offices, where salaries are due to increase by 30 percent on July 1, 2016. Thereafter salaries are to be increased 5 percent annually until they reach 150 percent of current salaries.
Vajna’s loan from Eximbank
Lázár said the EUR 21 million loan given by the Eximbank to casino owner/operator and government commissioner for film Andy Vajna with which to purchase TV2 is totally kosher because it was done so on the basis of market rates.