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30th April, 2019

Gov’t forgoes Norway Funds in dispute over control

Hungary is unwilling to accept nearly Ft 70 billion in grants from Norway because 10% of the total would be distributed directly to NGOs, liberal weekly Magyar Narancs reports.

Under the co-operation agreement, which the government is refusing to sign, an independent institution rather than the cabinet would distribute one tenth of the funding among NGOs.

The website 444 observes that the cabinet would prefer to do without Ft 63 billion than to tolerate the distribution of Ft 7 billion outside of its control.

The distributor of Norway Fund grants to civil society must be independent of local, regional and central governments, political parties and religious organisations, Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Per Bardalen Wiggen told Magyar Narancs.

Wiggen said no agreement has yet been reached, as a “difference of opinion” prevails regarding the grants to civil society.

The cabinet wants at least a veto right in awarding the subsidies, the weekly says.

The civil funds were previously distributed in Hungary through the Ökotárs Foundation. After government officials alleged financial misconduct in 2014, the State Audit Office, tax officials and police all examined the foundation’s books, but found no wrongdoing.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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