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7th November, 2019

Big construction projects still in doubt

The cabinet and the city of Budapest will continue to consult on large government construction projects planned in the city, it emerged from yesterday’s press conference held by mayor Gergely Karacsony and Prime Minister’s Office leader Gergely Gulyas.

Regarding the building projects under way in the City Park as part of the Museum Quarter planned by the cabinet, Karacsony said it is difficult to go back, but he repeatedly stressed that he does not want new buildings and the cabinet did not argue with him.

He said there was agreement on the need to build a flyover bypassing City Park at Szegedi ut, to free the area of car traffic.

Gulyas said Karacsony made it clear which investment projects the capital needs and which it does not.

He said it is good news for fans of the Kispest football club that the construction of the Bozsik stadium will be completed, adding that there is no threat to the construction of a handball stadium.

Regarding health development projects, both agreed that it is necessary for the districts and Budapest to hold consultations.

The biggest issue is the proposed megahospital in the 11th District. A dispute on its location continues to prevail between Budapest and the cabinet, particularly because of transport problems, based on Karacsony’s comments.

Karacsony asked that the funding for public transport company BKV be solved on the basis of international standards: one-third from the state, one-third from the city, and one-third from the sale of tickets. He acknowledged to reporters that there had not been a breakthrough on this issue.

Gulyas said the cabinet continues to supported public transport in Budapest and will honour its earlier promises.

Karacsony said he is happy that Gulyas is responsible for the capital in the cabinet, but suggested that a dedicated ministry could be a good solution. (infostart.hu; index.hu; atv.hu; origo.hu; 24.hu; hirado.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
7th November, 2019

Borkai to resign tomorrow

Gyor mayor Zsolt Borkai will resign his post effective 4 p.m. Friday, following the inaugural session of the new city council, he announced yesterday in an open letter to local residents.

Borkai was scheduled to take the oath of office on Thursday.

Fidesz sources told ATV on Wednesday morning that the party would suffer moral harm if Borkai stayed on, and that the best thing would be for him to resign before Thursday’s ceremony.

Fidesz refrained from expelling Borkai last month when a video surfaced of the mayor on a yacht on the Adriatic Sea with two prostitutes and a prominent Gyor businessman.

It is widely believed that the scandal motivated many Hungarians to vote against Fidesz in the local elections.

Borkai was narrowly re-elected but quit the party three days later after meeting with Fidesz national council leader Laszlo Kover and party director Gabor Kubatov.

He was also removed from the Hungarian Olympic Committee.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban strongly hinted in an October 25 radio interview that Borkai should step down.

Asked about Borkai’s resignation yesterday, Prime Minister’s Office leader Gergely Gulyas said “Eureka!”

Borkai said yesterday that “the slanders with one exception are a load of false information on a fake blog, which the press picked up without restraint”.

He added that he loves Gyor and would not like to hinder its further progress.

According to law, a new mayoral election may be held six months after the election. A senior government official said earlier that one of Gyor’s pro-government deputy mayors could steer the city for half a year. (infostart.hu; atv.hu; hvg.hu; hirado.hu; 24.hu; nepszava.hu)
7th November, 2019

Momentum initiates primary in Gyor

Momentum’s deputy Budapest mayor Gabor Kerpel-Fronius yesterday proposed a primary process to choose an opposition mayoral candidate in Gyor after mayor Zsolt Borkai announced his resignation earlier in the day.

Kerpel-Fronius, who lost out to Gergely Karacsony in a primary process, said last month’s local election results in Budapest and the Ninth District show that primaries work.

Continuing, he said primaries enhance participation and democracy, as residents were able to choose the common opposition candidate against Fidesz.

The process produced a substantive discussion of platforms and debates, “something we lost the habit of in the past nine years,” he said.

Timea Glazer, the opposition candidate who was defeated by Borkai last month, said yesterday that the opposition parties must reach a decision on a nominee but she is ready.

She said Borkai is waiting for the city council to convene before resigning so that Fidesz deputy mayors can be elected.

The opposition in Gyor would prefer that an “outside mayor” who is a person of public respect be appointed to run the city for two or three months until a by-election is held.

The Socialist Party said the entire city council should also resign so that new elections can be held in Gyor. (444.hu; index.hu; 24.hu; atv.hu; blikk.hu; hvg.hu)
7th November, 2019

Ministry must issue data on addresses

The Civil Liberties Union and the Political Capital think tank have won a second court ruling in their bid to find out whether non-residents of Hungary were illegally registered to vote in Hungary in last year’s parliamentary elections.

The Capital Court of Appeals yesterday ordered the Interior Ministry to issue address registration data requested by the two organisations.

Suspicion arose before the 2018 elections that ethnic Hungarian citizens abroad created bogus addresses in Hungary so as to be able to vote for individual MPs, not only for party lists, Nepszava writes.

The ministry also lost the first-instance court ruling in March. (nepszava.hu; blikk.hu; 444.hu; hvg.hu; atv.hu; 24.hu)
7th November, 2019

Hungary facing worsening EU transfer balance

No EU member state had a better relative net EU transfer balance in the 2014-18 period than Hungary, which received a net €4.6 billion, according to data released by the European Commission on Tuesday.

Poland received a net €10.7 billion and Romania, which is twice as large as Hungary, was awarded the same amount as Hungary.

Hungary’s transfers reached 4.02% of gross national income, slightly ahead of Bulgaria in second with 3.97%.

According to the Commission’s proposal for 2021-27, Hungary’s contribution to the EU budget will rise from 0.85% to 0.98% while agricultural fund transfers will drop from 1.5% to 0.93% and structural fund transfers from 2.75% to 1.6%.

This means that Hungary’s net position will worsen considerably, Bruxinfo underlines. (bruxinfo.hu; hvg.hu)
7th November, 2019

Retail trade volume up 6.3%

Retail trade volume was 6.3% higher, year-on-year in September, up from 5.3% in August, the Central Statistics Office announced on Wednesday.

Workday-adjusted figures show a 5.8% increase in September.

The volume of food sales was up by 3.0%, non-food sales increased by 8.6% and fuel sales expanded by 6.1%, according to workday-adjusted data.

In the January-September period, the retail trade volume was 5.8% higher than in the same period of 2018.

Food sales were up by 3.2%, non-food sales expanded by 8.7% and fuel sales rose by 6.9%. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; origo.hu; hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
7th November, 2019

Home construction up slightly

A total of 10,302 new homes were built in Hungary in the first three quarters of this year, a 0.8% year-on-year rise, the Central Statistics Office announced on Wednesday.

The number of new home construction permits issued rose by 2.7% to 27,388.

The average size of new homes grew from 94m2 to 97m2.

Among new homes, 55% were built for sale, 42% for own use and 1.6% for rent.

An estimated 18,000-20,000 new homes will be built this year, about half of the amount necessary to replace the housing stock, according to home construction promotion association TLE.

It added that the number of new homes built in Austria is about 3.5 times higher per capita than in Hungary and is 2.6 times higher in Poland. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; hvg.hu)
7th November, 2019

Ministry urges SMEs to change

Hungarian companies must change their ways in order to remain competitive on the international scene, Innovation and Technology Ministry state secretary Laszlo Gyorgy declared yesterday as he presented the ministry’s new strategy for SMEs.

Companies have to switch to new technologies, become environmentally friendly and old owners should pass control on to new generations, he said.

The ministry will help to keep these companies in Hungarian hands.

Gyorgy observed that all strategies reveal their true value after they are executed. (portfolio.hu; origo.hu; magyarnemzet.hu; hvg.hu)
7th November, 2019

Japanese auto parts plant promised

An agreement has been signed under which a Japanese car parts manufacturer will build a factory in North-East Hungary, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto said yesterday in Tokyo.

He did not name the company, but said it will create 300 jobs by investing Ft 13 billion.

Details will be announced in the coming weeks, he added.

Szijjarto met Japanese Agriculture Forestry and Fishery Minister Etoh Taku to discuss the African swine flu situation in Hungary.

He also met Education Culture Sports Science and Technology Minister Hagiuda Koichi. (magyarnemzet.hu)
7th November, 2019

Rosatom leader meets Suli

The application to build two new reactors at the state nuclear power plant in Paks will be filed with the Hungarian nuclear authority by June 30, 2020, CEO Alexey Likhachev of the main contractor Rosatom said yesterday.

Likhachev met Janos Suli, head of the expansion project, in Paks.

He said technical plans were provided in September ahead of the October 2 deadline.

After meeting with Suli, Likhachev said he was satisfied with the co-operation but still sees opportunities for improvement.

Rosatom will strengthen its engineering team in Hungary soon.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said everything is going according to plan after Rosatom reported to him on the project, but he added that there is no time to waste, Likhachev said. (vg.hu; napi.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; portfolio.hu; origo.hu; magyarnemzet.hu)
7th November, 2019

MTelekom educating pensioners

Magyar Telekom is launching digital competence courses for pensioners, the company announced on Wednesday.

The teachers will be students providing the service voluntarily.

The project, first tested in Budapest in the spring, is expanding from Wednesday to also include schools in Debrecen, Gyor, Kazincbarcika, Kecskemet, Miskolc, Ozd, Pecs, Sarvar, Szeged, Szombathely, Varpalota and Veszprem.

About 1,000 elderly persons will be trained each month, said spokesman Istvan Kutas.

The project also helps students looking for ways to fulfil compulsory high school volunteer work obligations. (napi.hu)
7th November, 2019

Takarekbank hit by online banking problems

Takarekbank’s online banking services collapsed yesterday following work to integrate the systems of 13 banks that were merged into the group.

The bank advised clients with non-urgent needs to carry out the task later or visit one of the Takarekbank branches, where the system was still working.

Experts employed by the bank said too many clients wanted to use online services after the long break in the services, thereby overloading the system.

Index readers said they were also unable to use their bank cards issued by Takarekbank. As a result, some of them could not access their salary for days.

Takarekbank branches were closed on Monday and Tuesday while the IT infrastructure was updated.

Takarekbank announced yesterday that the IT integration of the 13 banks was successful, but that there were problems in accessing online banking services because of heavy demand.

CEO Jozsef Vida pointed out that the merger creates the fifth largest bank in Hungary. (index.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; nepszava.hu)
7th November, 2019

MKB offers elite Mastercard product

MKB will be the first bank in Hungary to issue Mastercard World Elite bankcards, the bank announced at a Wednesday press conference.

The new card targets premium bank clients, and is especially useful for premium clients travelling abroad, as it offers access to VIP lounges at airports.

MKB has also set up a dedicated customer service for World Elite clients. (portfolio.hu)
7th November, 2019

Spring Festival line-up announced

The Hungarian premiere of Gyorgy Kurtag’s opera Fin de partie will be one of the highlights of the 2020 Budapest Spring Festival, it was announced yesterday.

The opening production features the Gyor Ballet troupe and popular violinist Felix Lajko performing Giselle.

There will also be performances by bel canto singer Lawrence Brownlee and Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais.

Belgian ensemble Collegium Vocale Gent and its world-renowned founding conductor Philippe Herreweghe will perform Bach’s Passion According to Matthew.

Ferenc Liszt will be celebrated with a 24-hour marathon featuring 40 pianists, while the bicentennial of the birth of Beethoven will be marked with concerts by the South Korean pianist Ji, as well as the Peter Sarik Trio and cimbalom player Miklos Lukacs with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

More generally, the festival, the 40th to date, will also showcase dance and theatre performances, jazz concerts and exhibitions.

Csaba Kael, chairman of the organising body, confirmed that the festival is set for April 3-19. (origo.hu; hirado.hu; magyarhirlap.hu)
7th November, 2019

Police arrest suspected drug dealers

Police in Cegled detained 10 out of 13 people suspected of involvement in a drug-selling ring during a co-ordinated operation in nine municipalities on Tuesday.

Police impounded psychoactive substances, digital balances, and more than Ft 2 million in cash in raids in Abony, Cegled, Csepa, Jaszkajeno, Jaszkiser, Szolnok, Tapiogyorgy, Ujszasz and Zagyvarekas.

They also seized weapons or replicas thereof, vehicles presumably obtained in connection with crime, technical items and jewels. (hvg.hu)

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