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14th March, 2019

Bavarian proposal could keep CEU in Budapest

A proposal from the Technical University of Munich could enable the Central European University to circumvent recent Hungarian legislation and continue to issue US degrees while operating in Budapest, HVG reports.

Under the proposal put forward by European People’s Party leader Manfred Weber, the Technical University of Munich would set up three institutes with the CEU in Budapest, two in close co-operation with yet unnamed, but top category American universities, according to HVG.

Two universities would be subsidised by the Bavarian government and one by carmaker BMW.

Spokesman Ulrich Marsch of the Munich university confirmed on Wednesday that it will sign a contract with the CEU.

He said the new form of co-operation would comply with Hungarian legal regulations, adding that international study programmes are planned at the end of which Hungarian, German and American degrees can be issued.

The recent amendment to the Hungarian higher education law makes the position of third-country universities difficult, as it is compulsory for them to have the authorisation of an agreement between their own government and that of Hungary, HVG observes.

The Hungarian government refused to sign such a contract to allow the CEU to continue issuing US degrees in Hungary.

However, universities from countries in the European Economic Region face no such requirement.

Thus, the Bavarian involvement would outmanoeuvre the legislation through which the government deprived the CEU of the right to issue US degrees, Index writes.

It is not clear whether some CEU courses or faculties would be lost.

CEU rector Michael Ignatieff will proceed to Munich “in the very near future” to clarify the details and conclude an agreement. (hvg.hu; index.hu; atv.hu; hu.euronews.com; ma.hu)
14th March, 2019

Social workers suspend strike

Social workers unions said yesterday that they will not take part in today’s one-day strike by the civil servants and public service employees union MKKSZ.

A union statement said strike readiness continues to prevail.

The decision will not affect the strike by local council civil servants and government officials.

MKKSZ president Mrs. Peter Boros announced the strike in January in response to legislative changes that make working conditions more difficult.

MKKSZ told Nepszava on Wednesday that it came close to reaching a solution with Human Resources Ministry officials on most social workers’ demands.

The most important of them is that the ministry undertook to present a proposal to the cabinet by April 30 on creating a legal basis for concluding collective agreements in the social sector.

For a long time, social workers have earned the least among Hungarian employees, and leading ministry officials also consider their wage demands as justified.

It was also agreed on Wednesday that the two sides will negotiate a multi-year wage advancement programme so that a proposal can be submitted to the cabinet by June 30. (atv.hu; nepszava.hu; hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

Gyongyosi leads Jobbik MEP list

Marton Gyongyosi will be top the list of Jobbik MEP candidates, the website Alfahir reported after Tuesday’s national council meeting.

In second place is current MEP Zoltan Balczo, followed by Peter Jakab, Tibor Bana and Daniel Z. Karpat.

According to forecasts, Jobbik could obtain four seats at the May 26 European Parliament elections.

Meanwhile, it has turned out that the party is not threatened by immediate dissolution, as the State Treasury has agreed to let Jobbik pay off fines exceeding Ft 1 billion in four instalments, party president Tamas Sneider told HVG. (hvg.hu; hirtv.hu; origo.hu; index.hu; propeller.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
14th March, 2019

Police ask Szel to explain views on anti-EU billboards

Independent MP Bernadett Szel has been summoned to the police to explain her formal complaint alleging misuse of funds because of the government’s anti-EU ad campaign.

Szel told the website 444 that she was surprised at having been summoned, since the Cabinet Office, which ordered and paid for the campaign, will know more.

In her report Szel alleged that the campaign serves the interests of the Fidesz party at government expense and is part of the European Parliament election campaign, and therefore constitutes a misuse of public funds.

Szel also claimed that an abuse of office has been committed, as those behind the campaign abused their power in giving Fidesz an illegal advantage in the election campaign. (444.hu; index.hu; nepszava.hu; hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

Polt proposes suspension of Jobbik MP’s right to immunity

Prosecutor General Peter Polt has proposed the suspension of the right to immunity from prosecution of Jobbik MP Gergely Farkas, as he stands accused of electoral fraud.

Farkas is suspected of offering Ft 600,000 to an LMP candidate in a Bacs county constituency to step aside ahead of the 2018 parliamentary elections.

The offer was rejected by the LMP candidate.

Jobbik spokesman Peter Jakab said Farkas’s offer was made in jest, “therefore Polt is investigating a joke”.

He also said “anybody can step aside, and it is at his discretion whether he does it for free or for cash”.

Jakab said the issue is political reprisal, as Fidesz is worried about opposition co-operation. (magyarhirlap.hu; echotv.hu; 444.hu; hirtv.hu; hvg.hu; orientpr.hu)
14th March, 2019

Cabinet wants to host cosmonauts world congress

The official Magyar Kozlony has published a government resolution under which the cabinet would like to host a congress of the International Cosmonauts Federation in 2020.

It has been decided to earmark €1 million for the event.

According to the explanation, the news of cosmonauts gathering in Hungary would enhance the country’s image and would remind Hungarians that next year will mark the 40th anniversary of Hungarian cosmonaut Bertalan Farkas’s space flight. (hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

Government reducing financial transaction tax

The government is placing an Ft 800 ceiling on the financial transaction tax paid by banks on transfers by private persons of Ft 20,000 or more, according to a bill filed by Finance Minister Mihaly Varga in Parliament on Tuesday.

The tax exemption for natural persons on all transactions below Ft 20,000 is maintained.

The Ft 800 replaces the present percentage system and is independent of the number of transactions carried out.

According to Bank Association secretary Levente Kovacs, the bank sector pays an annual Ft 12-13 billion in financial transaction tax on transactions by private persons.

The Finance Ministry estimates that the change will save banks Ft 10-13 billion.

However, Portfolio estimates the savings to be realised by banks at Ft 4.3-5.3 billion. (portfolio.hu; index.hu; 444.hu)
14th March, 2019

Varga to abolish tax on state bonds

The government will abolish the tax on interest earned by individual investors on state bonds from July 1, according to a bill filed by Finance Minister Mihaly Varga in Parliament.

The tax exemption is valid only on state bonds issued after July 1, the bill underlines.

The bill also proposes to use home savings funds and their sales agent networks as new sales channels for state bonds.

In addition, the government is planning to increase the State Treasury’s number of bond-selling outlets.

The MNB has recently suggested that the scope of state bonds sold at post offices be widened to include inflation-indexed state bonds. (portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; index.hu; origo.hu)
14th March, 2019

Industrial output up 4.4%

Industrial output was up 4.4% year-on-year in January, the Central Statistics Office announced on Wednesday as it released final figures confirming the preliminary data.

The annual increase was 5%, according to workday-adjusted data.

Industrial production rose by 0.6% from the previous month, according to both seasonally and workday adjusted figures.

Industrial exports were 6.7% higher than one year earlier, while domestic industrial sales increased by 8.7%.

Manufacturing output, which accounts for 94% of total output, expanded by 3.7%.

The overall figure was boosted by increases of 16.4% in mining and 9.5% in energy output.

Vehicle production, with a 24% weight in manufacturing, was up 4.8%. IT and electronics production expanded by 3.2%, while the food and tobacco industry output rose by 4.7%. (ksh.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

NAV presents income tax drafts

The tax authority NAV is presenting its draft personal income tax declarations on its website from today, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga announced yesterday.

The NAV has prepared 5.6 million draft income tax declarations this year, up from 5.1 million a year ago.

An estimated 3.8 million persons have obtained e-passes from the government website, without which the draft cannot be accessed.

Others may ask the NAV to send their draft declaration by post. Such requests must be made by midnight of March 18.

By developing e-government, NAV may become the first authority in Hungary that no longer uses paper by 2020, Varga said. (magyarhirlap.hu; napi.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; hvg.hu; magyarnemzet.hu; KR)
14th March, 2019

MNB prepares to close NHB bank

The MNB appears to be preparing to shut down the troubled NHB bank, website Menedzsment Forum reports.

Acting as the financial supervisory, the MNB has told the deposit guarantee fund OBA to prepare to pay NHB clients.

The MNB order limiting the withdrawal of deposits from NHB ends on March 18. The deadline cannot be extended further, as it has already been extended twice.

As a result, the MNB has to decide whether to end the withdrawal restrictions or start to liquidate the bank.

NHB has been unable to repay Ft 30 billion of deposits since December 18, 2018, when the MNB imposed a Ft 7 million ceiling on withdrawals and placed the bank under the control of a commissioner.

An audit by the MNB resulted in negative findings about the liquidity of the bank.

NHB closed all nine of its branches outside Budapest on January 25.

BanKonsult, a company owned by Tamas Szemerey, a cousin of MNB governor Gyorgy Matolcsy, has a 98.5% stake in NHB, while Lebanon-based Fransa Holding has 1.5%.

Security guard company Valton may lose money on the liquidation of NHB because it had billions deposited with the bank, in an amount above the guarantee threshold. (mfor.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; nepszava.hu; index.hu; hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

Strike threat grows at Metro

The Retail Workers Union (KASZ) set up a strike committee at Metro on Monday because employees reject the wage policy of the cash and carry chain, KASZ president Zoltan Karsai announced on Tuesday.

The law grants the employer seven days to engage in negotiations after the strike committee is formed before workers are allowed to strike legally.

The union demands that the lowest gross wage should be Ft 210,000 per month, with 13th- and 14th-month bonuses.

The KASZ also demands the launch of a loyalty bonus scheme.

In response, Metro said it is proceeding with its wage development plan established in early 2018, which is valid until 2020.

According to earlier reports, Metro raised the base monthly wage from Ft 180,500 valid in 2018 to Ft 190,000 and later to Ft 200,000. (index.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu)
14th March, 2019

SEGA dismisses striking workers

SEGA has fired four or five employees who took part in a failed strike at its Miskolc plant last week, news website G7 learned.

The company, formerly part of the Bosch group, now owned by Chinese investors, employs 1,600 people.

Of these, 50-60 participated in the strike which failed after two days last Friday.

The employees were dismissed at a meeting on Monday, where executives thanked the workers who did not participate in the strike.

That was humiliating and served the purpose of displaying power, a dismissed employee said.

SEGA said it is releasing temporary workers on various grounds. (g7.hu)
14th March, 2019

Hankook functioning despite strike

Production at the Hankook tyre factory is above the level estimated for a strike, as production is at nearly 70% of capacity, the South Korean company announced on Wednesday.

Hankook said the union continuously releases fake information and contradicting news, adding that it will not respond to media reports.

The union went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday, after staging a two-hour warning strike last week.

The factory employs workers from Ukraine and Mongolia who are not permitted to join the strike, Nepszava reports,

The union says it has increased its membership by about 100 during the strike to 1,300 of the 3,100 people employed by Hankook.

About half of the workers went on strike, the union said. (nepszava.hu; portfolio.hu; index.hu; magyarnemzet.hu)
14th March, 2019

State utility suppliers to merge

The electricity and natural gas distributor subsidiaries of the state utility company NKM will merge on June 30, 2019 under the name NKM Energia, NKM announced on Wednesday.

The new entity will have assets of Ft 313 billion and net capital of Ft 210 billion.

It will be the first company in Hungary to provide both electricity and gas, NKM underlined. (portfolio.hu)
14th March, 2019

Alteo plans private placement

Alteo has decided to carry out a capital increase in the form of a private placement, the alternative energy company announced yesterday on the stock exchange website.

Alteo will issue new shares at Ft 660-670 per share to a total value of Ft 500 million to Ft 2 billion, depending on demand.

The board of directors will set the final price after the preliminary subscription period ends on March 19.

The company says it has identified promising investment possibilities requiring Ft 7-10 billion and will use revenues from the capital for that purpose.

The capital increase will give management greater speed and flexibility in exploiting investment opportunities, said CEO Attila Chikan Jr. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu)
14th March, 2019

Top German executive beaten by restaurant security guards

The head of one of Germany’s largest car manufacturers was beaten by security guards in Budapest’s party zone, suffering severe injuries, last Friday night.

The 57-year-old German citizen came to Budapest to visit his son, who is living in Hungary.

The incident occurred when the family returned to the fashionable Seventh District restaurant where they had dined earlier, but were denied entry.

The man’s lawyer said security staff attacked the executive’s two sons with gas spray and struck and kicked them.

Their father tried to record the incident with his smartphone, but he was also attacked and beaten.

The father was hospitalised but chose to leave for Germany where doctors said he needed immediate surgery.

His lawyer said the man’s skull and cheekbone were broken.

The tabloid Blikk reported that the incident was recorded by a CCTV camera.

Police said they have questioned four men as suspects.

They said two people were lightly injured and one man suffered severe injuries. (atv.hu; blikk.hu; index.hu; 444.hu; 24.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
14th March, 2019

Opera staff gearing up to strike

Opera House trade unions delayed a performance on Saturday night and may take similar action, as worker unrest is at high level, HVG reports.

Staff want a collective bargain contract again and that is why they held up Saturday’s performance of Carmen.

Some 70% of the male choir, 50% of the female choir and a few musicians were on strike. Opera chief Szilveszter Okovacs told the audience that the staff demands a pay hike but said there is no way he can comply.

Individual pay hikes would be possible, but Okovacs would link such increases to the withdrawal of strike threat.

Some of the choir went on strike in one part of the performance at the Erkel Theatre, which since the Opera is under restoration, is the only place where the Hungarian State Opera can give performances. The performance got off to a start with a 20-minute delay.

The story began in the autumn of 2017 when the Opera management, despite promises, cancelled the collective agreement four days before it expired.

In the dispute that ensued between the unions and the employer a strike was called for October 28, 2017. Courts eventually ruled that the strike was legal, but it never took place.

Balazs Barany, president of the Independent Union of Opera Staff, said “people are afraid,” worried that they will be laid off or given a poor evaluation.

While many staff saw their salary drop by 20-25%, the salaries of Opera management rose. Okovacs also admitted the fact of the wage drop.

The unions attempted (there are three unions at the Opera) to hold negotiations but Barany said they were told that the management has no time to talk with them although under the law it is obliged to do so. A court also established that the law had been violated but there is no penalty.

Human Resources Minister Miklos Kasler did not reply to a letter of complaint.

Union leader Barany said the strikes will recur if there is no progress, as basic salaries at the Opera have not been raised for 16 years. (hvg.hu; nepszava.hu)

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