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25th March, 2021

Family doctors may be assigned to hospitals

Hospitals may be excused from providing mandatory minimal healthcare service conditions, and may order family doctors and the staff of district outpatient clinics to hospitals from today, under a government decree issued on Tuesday evening.

In addition, the state will take control of local council outpatients consulting rooms and transfer management of them to the heads of designated hospitals.

Zoltan Jenei, head of the new national hospital directorate OKFO, is in charge of local council outpatient consulting institutes, extending his purview to family doctors.

The cabinet did not divulge beforehand why it is preparing to take such significant steps, Szabad Europa observes.

A considerable number of family doctors can from now on be transferred to any hospital within their county.

In addition, the staff of specialist clinics can be reassigned to hospitals. From now on, the heads of all health care institutions must keep records of how many people can be taken away from them, i.e. redeployed elsewhere. If there is any change in this, the head of the institution must notify the head of the hospital under whose authority the institution lies (or the head of OKFO) within two hours.

In stating that certain institutions may be exempted from having to meet the minimum conditions, the decree does not specify what the minimum standards are. This may be decided by the directors of county hospitals or OKFO director Jenei at their own discretion. At times like these, however, they can set new minimum expected conditions to the given institutions.

The domestic regulation setting the current minimal standard is a huge decree, regulating basic mandatory conditions from the washing of hands to the refrigeration of the dead to the most basic mandatory conditions for each medical area and type of institution.

For example, one of the minimum conditions for an inpatient intensive care unit is that the physician-patient ratio in the ward should not be worse than 1:4. (szabadeuropa.hu; 444.hu)
25th March, 2021

Infrastructure staff to be vaccinated

The new government decree on the further centralisation of health care was necessary to make healthcare services even more organised, national chief medical officer Cecilia Muller told the emergency task force press conference on Wednesday.

She said that she considers centralisation a very effective thing.

The task force has decided to start inoculating the workers of companies that are part of the critical infrastructure, she announced, listing employees of the Budapest public transport company, state energy company MVM, the Paks nuclear power plant, state railway company MAV and Gysev Railways.

The inoculation programme was again not extended to teachers, kindergarten and nursery staff, HVG observes.

Muller stressed that vaccines are not enough as she asked everybody to do all they can to avoid getting infected, as the system is struggling under an extraordinary burden.

In answer to a question, she said the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines could arrive in Hungary in the second half of April. She could not say, however, how many vaccines will be in the shipment. (hvg.hu; infostart.hu; 444.hu; origo.hu)
25th March, 2021

60 teachers have died of coronavirus

Some 60 teachers have died of the coronavirus infection, although no official data are available, Teachers’ Union president Zsuzsa Szabo told ATV on Wednesday.

The union interviewed hundreds of teachers in a district of Budapest in a rapid questionnaire. Some 60% of the respondents said children should not return to classrooms until teachers are inoculated, full immunity develops and children are protected.

More than 70% of the teachers consider inoculation important.

Szabo said inoculation is important not only because of teachers but because of children and their family members.

The respondents asked that only those teachers show up for on-call work who have received a vaccination or have recovered from the infection. (atv.hu; infostart.hu; blikk.hu; nlc.hu)
25th March, 2021

Fidesz MPs silent on inoculation

Fidesz has refused to disclose how many of its MPs have received an inoculation against the coronavirus, in a survey by website 24.

All other parliamentary caucuses provided information.

One-third of the 15-member Socialist caucus has been inoculated.

Dialogue complained that 67-year-old Tamas Mellar has still not been inoculated. Nobody has received the jab yet among Dialogue MPs.

Jobbik MP Zoltan Balczo, 73, is in a similar position, as he is still waiting his turn.

Among Jobbik MPs, only Lajos Rig has been inoculated as a volunteer of the National Ambulance Service and a professional ambulance staff member.

Two of the nine Democratic Coalition MPs have been inoculated.

Only Erzsebet Schmuck of the six LMP MPs has been vaccinated. She was inoculated with a Sinopharm vaccine.

Fidesz and the Christian Democrats did not provide any answer, despite several attempts by the website. (24.hu; nepszava.hu)
25th March, 2021

Mostly caterers receive wage subsidy

Some 19,000 businesses have filed claims for crisis wage subsidies for 125,000 workers in the sectors hardest hit by the crisis, Innovation and Technology Ministry state secretary Sandor Bodo said on Wednesday.

The subsidies cover 50% of the gross wages to a monthly gross Ft 251,000 in the selected sectors.

Among the subsidised workers, 60% work in catering and 14% in accommodation services.

Since the scope of eligible sectors was expanded on March 8, approximately 6,000 claims have been filed in these additional industries.

The ministry has already paid out Ft 51 million in crisis wage subsidies, amounting to 99% of the claims, according to Bodo. (magyarhirlap.hu; origo.hu)
25th March, 2021

Rich Fidesz-run towns receive EU funds meant for poor regions

Not only does the state tourism office allocate public funds disproportionately between Fidesz- and opposition-run towns, but the Szechenyi 2020 programme which allocates EU money also shows a lopsided picture, website G7 reports.

The purpose of EU regional funds is to help advance poorer regions. After the 2019 municipal elections, Fidesz-led towns received conspicuously more money, although they are richer. The seven county seats run by the opposition in 2019 received Ft 20,000 per capita on average, while Fidesz-run towns obtained Ft 45,000.

The six local councils that received the highest support are all run by Fidesz. They were allocated Ft 36.3 billion in total, while the seven opposition-run towns received Ft 13.6 billion.

It is conspicuous that the richer a town is, the more EU money it receives, G7 adds. The two richest towns, Fidesz-run Szekesfehervar and Veszprem, received the most funds in proportion, while the two poorest, opposition-run Salgotarjan and Pecs, got the least. (g7.hu; telex.hu; 24.hu; hvg.hu; 444.hu)
25th March, 2021

Penzugykutato sees 3.8% GDP growth

Hungary’s GDP may grow by 3.8% this year, if anti-pandemic restrictions can be eased in the summer, the consultancy Penzugykutato concludes in its latest forecast.

The budget deficit is projected to reach 7.7% of GDP, and the state debt to remain, after a slight decrease, at 80.2% of GDP.

Inflation will increase over 4% by the end of the year as the forint weakens further, according to the forecast.

Penzugykutato calculates that the government has approved pandemic crisis measures amounting to 30% of GDP, but says the aid has not been put to its best possible use.

The aid is not effective, the analysts say, because – based on its policy of supporting a work-based society – the government did not compensate workers for lost income, thereby ailing to stimulate demand sufficiently.

In addition, a large part of the government assistance has not been used for the intended goals of the programmes, Penzugykutato says. (portfolio.hu; telex.hu; nepszava.hu; novekedes.hu)
25th March, 2021

Spar reports 9% rise in revenue

Spar revenues increased by 8.7% last year to Ft 739 billion, the Hungarian subsidiary of the Dutch retail chain said on Wednesday.

Spar highlighted that the increase is higher than the 3% average expansion in food sales in Hungary in 2020.

Average revenue per employee was almost Ft 53 million and average revenue per square metre of retail space was Ft 1.7 million.

Spar had 588 shops in Hungary at the end of December with a combined retail area of 432,000m2.

The number of employees grew by more than 500 to near 14,000.

Spar launched its online sales in 2019, which may now reach two million consumers. Due to rising demand, the number of employees in this division was increased to 144 last year. (napi.hu; novekedes.hu)
25th March, 2021

MOL buys Lukoil stations in Slovakia

Slovnaft, the subsidiary of MOL in Slovakia, has fully purchased Normbenz Slovakia, operator of 16 Lukoil filling stations in the country, the energy company announced yesterday.

The transaction still needs the approval of the Slovak competition authority.

The acquisition gives MOL an opportunity to strengthen its presence in Slovakia and expand its filling station restaurant chain Fresh Corner, head of the retail division Peter Ratatics commented.

He added that the purchase also fits MOL’s long-term strategy Shape Tomorrow, envisaging the expansion of consumer services by 2030.

The newly bought units will now operate under the Slovnaft name, complementing the present chain of 254 stations. (portfolio.hu; index.hu)
25th March, 2021

Magyar Bankholding adopts five-year merging strategy

Magyar Bankholding has approved a five-year strategy for the merger of its members Budapest Bank, MKB and Takarekbank, the group announced on Wednesday.

During this period, all profits will be reinvested.

From 2023, the banks will be united and act as one unit which, according to the announcement, will change the traditional image of a bank in Hungary.

The new bank aims to be the most up-to-date, employing flexible and cutting-edge digital solutions, said chairman of the group Zsolt Barna.

The strategy has also identified areas of synergies that will make the new bank more efficient than its members are now.

Growth rates exceeding the market average are especially targeted in retail, SME and agricultural crediting.

Magyar Bankholding, founded on December 15, 2020, has the largest branch network in Hungary, serving 1.4 million retail and 208,000 corporate clients. Its total assets reach Ft 8.424 trillion. (portfolio.hu)
25th March, 2021

Nipuf opens storage facility in Pecs

Logistics company Nipuf yesterday announced the opening of its 11,000m2 storage facility in the Pecs industrial park, following a Ft 2.5 billion development project.

The new unit is hired by Raben Trans Europe Hungary.

Nipuf previously built a 22,000m2 storage hall in the industrial park near the M60 motorway and the Pecs-Pogany Airport, and has a permit to build out an additional 38,000m2.

The group has storage spaces with a total area of 168,000m2 in Hungary, and is engaged in building storage facilities with a combined area of 17,000m2, CEO Laszlo Kiss added. (portfolio.hu)
25th March, 2021

MFGT creating hydrogen storage unit

Gas storage facility operator Magyar Foldgaztarolo (MFGT) yesterday announced the commencement of construction of a water-based hydrogen generation plant, as a pilot project.

MFGT is a subsidiary of state energy company MVM.

The Ft 2.9 billion construction project received a Ft 1.9 billion state grant.

The 2.5MW capacity gas generator in Kardoskut, Bekes county is expected to start production in February 2023.

In the project, dubbed Akvamarin, MFGT is essentially looking for a solution to the question of how electricity produced on a renewable basis can be stored in the long term. (magyarnemzet.hu; portfolio.hu; origo.hu)
25th March, 2021

Neo Property Services wins MAV job

Neo Property Services has won the contract for providing maintenance services on properties owned by MAV for Ft 5.4 billion, the state railway company announced on the EU public procurement website.

The tender comprises two jobs, one for the West Hungarian region of Szombathely, Pecs and Buda, the other in the South Hungarian region of Szeged and Pest, with winning bids of Ft 2.5 billion and Ft 2.8 billion.

The contract was signed with the winner on March 10.

Competitors A-Hid Epito, Janosik es Tarsai, Euro Campus and Thermo Epgep also filed bids on the tender.

Neo Property was sold to BSE-listed investment fund Akko Invest for Ft 18.5 billion in February. (napi.hu)
25th March, 2021

B&B Hotels sells Budapest hotel

B&B Hotels has sold its B&B Budapest Hotel, along with its B&B Prague Hotel, to French property fund Primonial Reim, consultants Cushman & Wakefield announced on LinkedIn.

The 214-room hotel in Budapest is still being built by transforming the former Angyal Office Building near Boraros ter in Pest.

The 7,700m2 office building was sold by the Wing Group to B&B Hotels in 2018.

The hotel chain will hire back and operate the hotel, which will be opened in the summer. (portfolio.hu)
25th March, 2021

Covid statistics remain among world’s worst

Hungary not only has one of the world’s highest per capita Covid mortality rates, but has more Covid patients per capita than any other country, website 444 reports.

A total of 249 people died of the coronavirus infection on Tuesday, raising the total to date to nearly 19,000.

The number of infected people hospitalised dropped by 68 to 11,805, but it is not known how many of them were allowed to return home or how many died, 444 adds.

The number of patients on ventilators continued to rise to new highs, reaching 1,423.

A total of 7,587 newly infected people were identified from 33,000 tests on Tuesday. This means that 23% of the samples were positive, slightly lower than the figures of recent days.

About 60,000 people were inoculated, the highest daily figure since March 13. In all, nearly 1.7 million people have received at least one inoculation to date.

In the past two weeks, the number of infected people per capita continues to be the highest in Somogy, Komarom and Nograd counties. (444.hu; koronavirus.gov.hu)
25th March, 2021

Soldiers disinfect rural schools

Eleven army units are disinfecting nearly 140 schools and kindergartens between March 16 and April 6 at the request of the Human Resources Ministry, to make public educational institutions safe again.

Soldiers based in Papa disinfected 16 classrooms and nearly ten bathrooms with alcohol-based disinfectants, said Kinga Hutas Ruppert, principal of Szechenyi Istvan University Oveges Kalman Primary School.

Papa-based soldiers are also disinfecting schools in Vas and Veszprem counties. (atv.hu; hellovidek.hu)
25th March, 2021

Private inoculation company repays advance payments

Citing the “changing legal environment” Nemzetkozi Oltokozpont is repaying within a week the advance payments it had taken for future coronavirus inoculation services, the private healthcare company announced.

No further registrations will be accepted, but as vaccines become available those already registered will receive their vaccinations, the company said.

The company charged Ft 5,000 for registration, and took in Ft 25 million from 5,000 customers between August and November of last year.

The Budapest Government Office launched a consumer protection investigation into the company last week, questioning whether it may take advance payments.

Authorities earlier ordered the company to provide more information on its website, but the system of advance payments was not challenged, website 24 observes. (24.hu; telex.hu; hvg.hu; napi.hu; origo.hu; portfolio.hu)

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