Orbán’s commissioner on Roma affairs to keep his job despite scandal over Roma employment program

March 1, 2017

In 2013, the government entered into an agreement with the National Roma Council under which the political organization would work through an association to distribute HUF 1.6 billion (USD 5.5 million) in state funds for a Roma employment program. The “Bridge into the Working World” program was led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s commissioner on Roma affairs Flórián Farkas (pictured), and funds were spent on office space, salaries, studies and car rentals. According to a report from RTL Klub, however, no jobs were created, the money disappeared and Flórián Farkas still enjoys the support of the prime minister.

When it became clear – thanks to the work of opposition politicians – that the program was not fulfilling its purpose and the money had been squandered, the Hungarian government and tax authority opened investigations. Ultimately, Farkas resigned from his role overseeing the program, and Hungary’s Ministry of Human Resources demanded a full repayment of the misused funds.

However, the council was unable to repay and in December 2016 the government wired it an additional HUF 1.3 billion designated as “special support.” Ministry of Human Resources undersecretary Bence Rétvári defended the transfer by claiming that the National Roma Council would otherwise go bankrupt.

RomNet.hu, a news website focusing on Roma issues, reported last weekend that the “Bridge into the Working World” program would be completely eliminated, with no one connected to it having been charged with any crimes.

“The government is assisting Flórián Farkas’ theft by performing no real investigation into what happened [to the money],” said Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) MP László Teleki.

RTL Klub asked the Prime Minister’s Office to comment on whether Farkas still enjoys Orbán’s support in light of the apparent abuses.

“Flórián Farkas works at the Prime Minister’s Office as a government commissioner,” was the response issued by the Prime Minister’s press officer.