Budapest Mayor & Opposition Lambast Government Budget Bill

  • 27 May 2020 11:48 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Budapest Mayor & Opposition Lambast Government Budget Bill
The government’s 2021 budget bill would “extremely seriously” impact not only local governments but local communities, too, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said, adding that the budget was “against the interests of the nation”.

Karácsony said the government was using the coronavirus crisis “to destroy the local government sector”, which he suggested was the only remaining “counterbalance” to centralised powers.

Referring to provisions in the draft, Karácsony said that stripping municipalities of their 50% share in the centrally collected vehicle tax and increasing the municipalities’ solidarity tax would have a “dramatic” impact on local communities.

Concerning the latter tax, Karácsony said Budapest currently pays an annual 10 billion forints to the central budget, which could grow nearly four-fold in future.

On the other hand, Karácsony said, Budapest’s public transport revenues have dwindled, and the same could happen to local business tax revenues, the city’s primary revenue source.

Karácsony said he was aware the central budget was also impacted by the current recession, but added that “we still think that this was a deliberate political decision aimed at creating a difficult situation for municipalities, which cannot be explained by the country’s financial situation”.

The budget bill is “not only anti-democratic but it will make eliminating the social and economic crisis much more difficult, too”, Karácsony said, adding that he would do everything to thwart the draft in its current form.

Karácsony also called the bill “a draft of treachery” and cited Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as saying on “innumerable occasions” that the government would not take measures that the Budapest council found unsatisfactory.

Opposition Parties Slam 2021 Budget Bill

Hungarian opposition parties criticised the 2021 budget bill, saying it had been prepared hastily and fell short when it came to funding measures related to the novel coronavirus.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) said the bill was “meaningless” and lacked common sense or professionalism. DK’s deputy leader László Varju said in a statement that Viktor Orbán’s government had “systematically destroyed health care and the economy” while neglecting families and businesses ruined by the epidemic.

“Even now, on the verge of a crisis,” the 2021 budget bill contains items that “benefit the oligarchs”, such as rail developments and stadium construction, he added.

The bill still includes such priority projects as the Paks nuclear power station expansion, the Liget Project, the Budapest-Belgrade rail development and a new multifunctional sports and events hall in Budapest, he said.

Opposition Párbeszéd said the allocations for health care and economic protection were insufficient. Deputy group leader Sándor Burány told an online press conference that the budget bill had been hastily prepared and should have been submitted in the autumn instead.

The bill does not include sufficient allocations for measures to handle the effects of the novel coronavirus epidemic, he said.

Hospitals had been in an “appalling state” even before the epidemic, and doctors and nurses have “scandalously low salaries”, he said. It is also “regrettable”, he said, that the budget bill had barely any funding for economic protection measures and instead supported investments that people close to the Fidesz government would benefit from.

More money, he added, was needed to protect jobs and pay jobseekers’ benefits, he said.

MTI Photo

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