An undersecretary at the Office of the Prime Minister responsible for rural development and agriculture, Miklós Zsolt Kis, has been awarded more than HUF 100 million (USD 360,000) in state and EU agricultural subsidies since 2010, writes Hungarian news website 444.hu. In the past three years only, his subsidies totalled HUF 70 million.
Kis has been involved with agriculture since 2002. Together with his father, the mayor of Nyársapát (a village next to the city of Cegléd), he has been growing strawberries, melons and vegetables on their family lands. Kis was named undersecretary in 2014, and, according to his personal asset declaration form, he owns 96 acres of lands outside his home village.
Hungarian tabloid newspaper Blikk was the first to write about the agricultural subsidies awarded to the undersecretary back in 2014. According to the article, the politician received a funding of HUF 32 million (USD 114,000) that same year, of which HUF 22 million (USD 79,000) was transferred to his accounts after his appointment.
The paper asked Kis whether he felt his position as a politician responsible for rural development was compatible with receiving huge amounts of money from agricultural funds. In his reply, the undersecretary claimed he applied successfully for the tenders years before his nomination.
“Many of these imply obligations for years and, as such, payments are continuous,” Kis said.
He added that some of his tenders will only close after 2015, meaning he would receive funds until the end of 2015. These funds cover the planting of fruits, grapes and strawberries, the buying of agricultural machinery and the building of a container for chopped wood.
Journalists at 444.hu looked at the amount of money Kis received in 2015. They found the politician had been awarded HUF 23 million (USD 82,600) from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF).
The politician told 444.hu that territory-based EAGF funds are normative, meaning there is no call for applications because everybody who owns lands receives them “automatically”. Kis said he has not claimed subsidies neither from the Hungarian state nor the European Union since he was appointed. The money he received in 2015 is from his previously successful amounts, he said.
“I am in no position to decide or influence the awarding of subsidies,” Kis asserted. “The lands I listed in my personal asset declaration form were in my personal use before my appointment as undersecretary, but since then I only use a few acres of plough land.”
The politician noted that as an undersecretary, he cannot influence who gets normative subsidies.
L. Simon and his companies
This is not the first time a state undersecretary at the Prime Minister’s Office has received state and EU funds. In a completely different story, former undersecretary for culture László L. Simon received almost HUF 80 million of subsidies through the companies owned by him or his wife in 2015. János Lázár, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister, was not particularly happy about L. Simon’s agricultural companies and even ordered all his ministers to get rid of their businesses. The undersecretary was sacked at the beginning of summer, although Lázár claimed he sacked him merely because he was not satisfied with his work.