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17th May, 2018

Orban to double military spending

“We want a strong army that can vie with that of any other nation,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared yesterday as he announced that the government will double spending on military matters.

At a ceremony in Parliament where new armed forces chief of staff Ferenc Korom was instated, Orban said “history teaches us that the nation that cannot defend itself does not deserve to exist, and a strong Hungary cannot exist without a strong army”.

Orban said the ceremony was held next to the crown in the cupola hall of Parliament because it was a tradition in Hungarian coronations that the new king would ride atop the coronation hill and point his sword towards the four points of the compass, to show that he would defend the nation. “The crown is here in the heart of Parliament to regularly remind us that the defence of Hungary is not NATO’s duty or the EU’s, but ours”.

The new chief of staff must reorganise the armed forces, he added.

Korom succeeds Tibor Benko as chief of staff, as the latter is the new defence minister.

Korom took his credentials as chief of staff from President Janos Ader.

Korom’s commission runs to May 15, 2023. (hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; atv.hu; 444.hu; magyaridok.hu; origo.hu)
17th May, 2018

43% are happy with election results

Roughly the same number of Hungarians are unhappy as are pleased about the outcome of the parliamentary elections, according to a poll conducted by Zavecz Research in the first week of May, as commissioned by Index.

Dissatisfaction with the outcome tends to be greater among those with higher school qualifications.

Voters received the final results with mixed feelings, as 43% are pleased to see Fidesz win, while 40% wanted the governing party to lose this time.

More than 33% of those who did not vote take a positive view of the Fidesz victory, while 40% were indifferent.

Not all Fidesz voters were happy that the party won a two-thirds majority, but 73% of them were pleased.

Most Fidesz voters said they supported the party because measures adopted by the Fidesz cabinet were more favourable for them than steps taken by former governments.

The refugee campaign was the most important component for rural dwellers, while this was only the fourth most important factor for Fidesz voters in Budapest.

The opposition parties lost about 800,000 voters by failing to win over those who did not vote but would have preferred a change of government, Zavecz said. (index.hu; klubradio.hu; merce.hu; 24.hu; hvg.hu)
17th May, 2018

Socialists to confront new cabinet with “harmful acts”

Cabinet minister-designates are pretending that it was not Fidesz that was in power in the past eight years, therefore the Socialist Party-Dialogue alliance will confront them with the “wickedness” of recent years, opposition parties said yesterday.

Assessing committee hearings of designated cabinet ministers this week, caucus leader Bertalan Toth told reporters that the candidates did not answer questions, but acted as if they had only now gained power and that their “tragic damage” to education, health care and the social sector had not happened.

Toth called Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog one of the guiltiest ministers. He said the outgoing minister may be proud only that Good Friday has been made a holiday, as in recent years 30,000 people died of curable diseases, emigration by doctors and nurses reached new highs, and the number of filled family doctor positions declined drastically.

The situation is also tragic in education, he said, as teachers keep leaving the profession, the number of functional illiterates has continued to rise and 10,000 children were ejected from the education system when the age limit for compulsory schooling was reduced.

He added that in coming days the Socialist-Dialogue alliance will submit written questions to the Orban cabinet to which it did not receive answers. (magyarhirlap.hu; merce.hu; 24.hu; atv.hu; hvg.hu)
17th May, 2018

Fewer police patrolling borders

Police officers have been called back from the Serbia-Hungary border due to an easing of the migration crisis, residents living near the southern border fence told HirTV.

Interior Minister Sandor Pinter declined to reveal details, but merely said “the number of police officers is adjusted to the degree of the task”.

Local residents in Roszke said they have not seen any refugees for years.

They are happy with the quiet that prevails now that that there are fewer police officers and police cars at the southern border.

Csongrad county police did not divulge how many police officers had been withdrawn from the border.

Pinter said “at present there are exactly as many police officers as are required by the assignment”.

He said the border fence is successful therefore the government will choose this solution at other border stretches as well, if necessary.

Police officers nationwide have caught 33 migrants since May 1, HirTV adds. (hirtv.hu; 444.hu)
17th May, 2018

Hungary rejects migration reform plan

Hungarian officials vehemently attacked a proposal on immigration put forward by Bulgaria, holder of the rotating EU presidency, in Brussels on Tuesday evening.

An unnamed EU diplomat said Hungary stated that the proposal only serves the interests of Germany.

Two other diplomats confirmed that, with one saying that a civilised debate took place and “the Hungarians didn’t mention explicitly Germany, but it’s clear that … basically they were accusing them of being slaves to Berlin”.

According to English-language news site Politico, HVG writes, the proposal attempts to bridge the gap between frontline states such as Italy and Greece – which say current EU rules place too great a burden on the country in which asylum seekers first arrive in Europe – and countries such as Hungary and Poland, which refuse to be part of any plan that makes relocating refugees mandatory.

According to the Bulgarian proposal, relocation of migrants within the EU would occur only in exceptional cases, but member states would be expected to take in new arrivals to the EU seeking asylum.

The Hungarians did not comment on the negotiations. (hvg.hu; figyelo.hu; infostart.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu; napi.hu)
17th May, 2018

Bond yields continue to trek higher

Yields on Hungary’s ten-year bonds surged 50 basis points in the last two weeks and were fixed at 3.02% on Wednesday, the highest level since August, Portfolio reports.

On the secondary market, yields moved up four basis points after a 12-point rise on Tuesday.

The sell-off in Hungarian bonds came in tandem with the decline of the forint, which slid to its weakest level against the euro in two years, at above 317 on Tuesday.

There is a broad-based sell-off in emerging market assets, analysts said, adding that certain factors, such as the dovish policies of the MNB, are also playing a part in the weakness of Hungarian assets.

The Czech and Romanian central banks have already started tightening rates, while the MNB looks firm to keep its base rate unchanged until 2020.

Hungarian bonds outperformed regional bonds for a long time but with the correction now taking place the losses are also steeper, Portfolio writes.

Yields on the ten-year Hungarian bond are lower than on similar Polish bonds, which would have been unimaginable a couple of years ago, the website adds. (portfolio.hu)
17th May, 2018

More work permits for foreigners

Last year 25,000 foreigners from non-EU countries received work permits in Hungary, an increase of 10,000 from the previous year, to ease the dire labour shortage in many industries, Magyar Idok reports, citing data from the Immigration Office.

The actual figures may be higher, as from June 2017 workers in professions with the most acute labour shortage do not need to have work permits.

No survey has been conducted regarding which sectors employ the most non-EU citizens, but industry representatives say most come from Ukraine and work in industry and construction.

Laszlo Parragh, head of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Hungary needs 200,000-300,000 guest workers to ease the labour shortage over the long term.

A large number of the foreign workers, some 20% according to estimates, use Hungary as a springboard for moving to Western Europe, but companies are trying to prevent this with clauses in contracts. (magyaridok.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu)
17th May, 2018

Diesel prices to top Ft 400 per litre

MOL raised its wholesale fuel and diesel prices by Ft 7 and Ft 8 per litre from Wednesday and said more hikes are to come on Friday.

The average price for a litre of diesel will exceed Ft 400 as prices will go up by Ft 5 per litre.

MOL will raise petrol prices by Ft 4 per litre to Ft 398, on average.

Rising global oil prices and the stronger dollar are behind the increase. (portfolio.hu; napi.hu; hvg.hu)
17th May, 2018

Futureal starts construction of new mall in south Buda

Developer Futureal Group has begun the construction of a 155,000m2 shopping mall near Kelenfold train station in Budapest’s 11th District.

When completed in 2020, Etele Plaza will be the third largest shopping and entertainment centre in the city, and the biggest mall in Buda, the developer said.

The mall is close to the M1-M7 motorway as well as Kelenfold station, and can be accessed by the M4 metro line, as well as by tram and bus.

Some 200 shops, including the largest fashion brands, will be present on the mall’s 54,000m2 of retail space.

The centre will also host restaurants, cafes, a multiplex cinema and a gym.

The area around Etele ter is one of the most densely populated in the city, with 235,000 residents, whose average purchasing power is 125% of the national average.

The mall will have 1,300 parking spaces. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; iroda.hu)
17th May, 2018

Result of MAV vending machine tender expected in July

State passenger rail company MAV-Start will announce the result of the public procurement tender for the purchase of new ticket vending machines in July, according to reports.

Financial news website G7 reported in April that three companies had submitted bids and that MAV-Start would announce the winners by May.

The winner will have to deliver 375 units with the option of an additional 110 for Ft 4.7 billion.

Bids were invited at the end of February and companies had one month to submit their offers.

MAV-Start called for the purchase of 275 ticket vending machines that accept payment by cash and bank card and 100 that accept payment solely by bankcard.

The contract will also include options to buy a further 80 and 30 units respectively of these two types of machine.

The tender is financed from EU funds under the Integrated Transport Development Operational Programme.

The ticket vending machines are to be installed in suburban stations and in cities around Lake Balaton. (hvg.hu; portfolio.hu; magyaridok.hu)
17th May, 2018

Uniqa plans to double profits

Insurance company Uniqa made a Ft 820 million profit after taxes in 2017, up from Ft 225 million a year earlier, and plans to boost that to Ft 1.4 billion this year, CEO Krisztian Kurtisz said on Wednesday.

Gross premium revenue rose 10% last year to Ft 64 billion.

As part of a strategic overhaul, Uniqa has streamlined its product portfolio, reducing the number of its products from 200 to 40, he added.

The insurer plans to launch an innovative new product which will be a novelty on the market, Kurtisz said, without elaborating.

The Austrian parent company launched a venture capital company to fund insurance companies, and the Hungarian unit will also venture into this field in the fall.

Insurtech companies, similarly to fintech companies, offer customised services exploring new technologies. (napi.hu; portfolio.hu)
17th May, 2018

Duna Aszfalt wins huge state tenders

Construction group Duna Aszfalt has successfully won several public procurement tenders, news website 24 reports, citing the public procurement gazette.

The company is owned by Laszlo Szijj, who is known to have close ties to the government.

His company will build a road linking the M5 motorway to main road 5 for Ft 8.8 billion, which is Ft 1 billion more than the state infrastructure developer NIF had planned to pay.

Duna Aszfalt also won Ft 4 billion worth of tenders for 18 of 34 road construction tenders announced by the NIF.

Swietelsky won nine contracts worth a total of Ft 2 billion, followed by Strabag with seven tenders worth Ft 1.4 billion. (24.hu; hvg.hu)

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