- 21 Dec 2015 8:00 AM
János Lázár told the press: as part of the extension of the family first home benefit, in addition to the non-repayable aid, families agreeing to have three children may also be eligible for a further loan of HUF 10 million for a term of twenty-five years, the interest on which may not be higher than 3 per cent.
In order to make settling in the first home as secure as possible, upon the purchase of a new home, the aid will increase to HUF 2.6 million in the case of two children, he added.
The Minister also said that those who have already applied for the family first home benefit previously or for the social policy benefit which was available earlier may request aid of an amount reduced by the grants already received. Consultations are still ongoing as to the conditions under which the aid will have to be repaid by couples unable to deliver upon their undertakings.
He further told the press: in the case of the purchase of new homes, the restrictions on the maximum number of square metres have been abolished from among the conditions of eligibility for the aid even in the case of a single child. The upper age limit of eligibility for the aid continues to remain 40 years.
Mr Lázár reiterated that the VAT on the purchase of new homes will be reduced from 27 per cent to 5 per cent as of 1 January in the case of flats of a maximum area of 150 square metres and family houses of a maximum area of 300 square metres. The Government supplemented this measure with the benefit that, as of 1 January, VAT will be reclaimable up to HUF 5 million in the case of self-financed home construction projects.
He further reiterated: the planning permission procedure will change to a simple act of reporting in the case of residential buildings with a ground space of not more than 300 square metres. Another construction reform package will also be completed by January 2016; as part of this, the maximum number of square metres which will carry a similarly expedited official procedure will also be set for the construction of blocks of freehold flats.
A national catalogue of model plans will further be prepared which will contain buildings with specific landscape characteristics which can be implemented swiftly and effectively, both for the events of refurbishment and construction, he added.
Mr Lázár proposes reorganisation of state administration
Mr Lázár proposes a considerable reorganisation in state administration. The essence of this reorganisation lies in the establishment of a corps of state administration workers, a pay rise programme, the reinforcement of district offices, the delegation of the powers of some 91 central state administration agencies to the government offices, and the integration of some of these agencies into the relevant ministries.
The Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out: he will initiate the establishment of a corps of state administration workers as of 1 July 2016 which may be joined in the first round by the staff members of the district offices. The establishment of the corps will also result in a new pay scale: salaries will increase by 30 per cent on 1 July, and by 5 per cent every year thereafter up to the attainment of a 50 per cent pay rise in total. This would be extended to the entire structure of government offices on 1 January 2017, and to all state administration workers as of 2018, he said.
In addition to the new pay scale, they will introduce new quality requirements and a new training system, and the conditions which employees are required to meet will also be renewed, he said.
The reinforcement of district offices also forms part of Mr Lázár’s proposal: several government office responsibilities will be delegated to the district offices whose role as authority proceeding at first instance will be reinforced, for instance, in the case of pension administration, health insurance fund responsibilities, family benefit decisions and agricultural procedures.
As a result, there will be no obstacle to the government offices undertaking the role of authority proceeding at second instance, he continued. As part of this, the Minister will make a recommendation for changes in the staff numbers of district and government offices.
The Minister will additionally initiate the reorganisation of 91 central state administration agencies, including all principal national authorities, ministerial background institutions and authorities, independent institutions, central offices and centrally financed agencies.
The essence of this reorganisation is that the powers of these agencies may be delegated to the government offices on 1 July 2016. The latter will take over procedures at second instance which currently fall within the competence of the national authorities and offices. “And whatever is left out of the national authorities and offices will, after some staff streamlining”, be integrated into the relevant ministries, he said.
“Ministries, government offices and district offices”, this will be the new “simple, clear and transparent” structure of state administration according to Mr Lázár’s summary.
Sándor Farkas may be appointed as government commissioner responsible for Mezőhegyes stud farm
The Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office will propose to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that he appoint Sándor Farkas, Member of Parliament for Fidesz in the constituency of Szentes and member of the Agricultural Committee, as the government commissioner responsible for the establishment of the Mezőhegyes stud farm and model farm.
Mr Lázár told the press that it will be Mr Farkas’s responsibility to set up a team which will form the new Mezőhegyes stud farm and model farm.
Regarding the sale of state-owned land, Mr Lázár informed the press: 165,000 hectares of land have been put on auction to date, of which 102,000 hectares have been sold. The initial asking price of the landed areas offered for sale amounted to HUF 222 billion in total, while the proceeds amounted to HUF 142 billion. Farmers have requested credit worth HUF 250 billion so far, he said listing the data.
He further reported that ten foreign farmers, eight of them dual citizens, have purchased land, 725 hectares in total.
Regarding the utilisation of the proceeds of the land auctions, he pointed out: the utilisation of the proceeds is regulated by the law on the land fund, and the Government is of the opinion that, in the case of county-ranked cities, costs related to industrial parks can be financed from them.
In answer to a question regarding the statement made by István Tarlós, Mayor of Budapest, regarding the financing of the Budapest transport company BKV, Mr Lázár said: if the metropolitan municipality concludes that it is unable to finance transport to and from the suburbs constituting the urban agglomeration, the Government will discuss this issue on its merits.
He further told the press: after Parliament extended Eximbank’s range of activities, the financial institution provided a loan for Andrew G. Vajna’s company under market conditions; in other words, the bank did not provide a subsidised loan.
Regarding the Hóman statue, the Minister said: he does not believe there is any truth in the reports that László L. Simon, a native of the city of Székesfehérvár, is behind the erection of the statue. In his view, many locals are of the opinion that the city’s former Member of Parliament would deserve a statue. “This is the business of civil society; the Government has closed the case of the erection of the Hóman statue”, he added.
In answer to a question about the departure of physicians from the country, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office highlighted: „we are unable to eliminate” the difference between the salaries of doctors in Hungary and those paid in Western- and Northern-Europe „with a stroke of the pen”. However, the Government has launched several programmes, for instance, with a view to supporting residents, and migration to other countries has significantly decreased among their ranks, he said.
He also drew attention to the fact that he continuously recommends the development of medical universities, even through the detachment of medical faculties from universities, because Hungarian medical training is to the highest world standards. In his view, more students, and if possible, more foreign students should be admitted.
„The development of medical training and the continuous increase of the pay of physicians may in combination solve the problem of doctors leaving the country in the next few years”, he stressed.
Concerning the words of Speaker of the House László Kövér related to women, the Minister said: he regards the “media circus” which is provoked by every manifestation of the Speaker of the House among left-liberal opinion-makers as a gross exaggeration. László Kövér has the right to state his opinion, but „I do not have the right to comment on it”, he added, and pointed out: he finds it unfair that “attempts are made to twist every word the Speaker of the House utters”.
Mr Lázár was also asked about the fact that Magyar Telekom terminated its contract with the singer Ákos Kovács with reference to his words related to women. He said in response: he finds shocking the liberties which Telekom took in the case. “This is an opinion and taste dictatorship which is inconceivable in a democratic state. (…) Out of all businesses, a German company should know what dictatorship means, what the opinion and taste dictatorship involves”, he stated his position, asking the question: “Should the Government dislike Telekom’s opinion on this issue, could we then terminate our contract with Telekom?”
A member of the press also mentioned at the press conference the statement made by László Kövér in connection with the Benes decrees. Mr Lázár took the view that the cooperation of the Visegrád Member States is not in danger, and then reiterated: the Government made a statement in the interest of cooperation. He additionally remarked: “I share the political convictions of the Honourable Speaker Kövér on a great many issues”.
The Minister informed the press: he will file an official report with OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud agency regarding the case of the Altus contract before Christmas because “the European Commission can afford to be cynical enough to only institute a procedure if an official report is filed”. He added: he regards the conclusion of the contract as an intervention in Hungarian internal politics, and sees it as an instance of prohibited party financing and a biased decision.
In answer to earlier questions, he said: the compensation law does not apply to the wronged customers of Buda-Cash because they will receive the securities kept on their securities accounts and compensation up to HUF 6 million will be provided by the investor protection fund.
The Ministry of Human Capacities has not withdrawn a penny from the National Roma Self-Government, the Minister pointed out, but merely changed the content of the programme by reducing the available funding.