- 12 Mar 2022 10:13 AM
- Hungary Matters
Gergely Gulyás late on Thursday dismissed allegations that the government was unable to maintain the fuels cap or that fuel supplies were in jeopardy, saying supplies were continuous, though “there are difficulties in some places due to increased demand.
Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes and vehicles over 3.5 tonnes with foreign number plates will pay market prices at high pressure pumps, he said.
A price cap of 480 forints (EUR 1.26) per litre will continue to apply to motorists filling up passenger cars and vehicles under 7.5 tonnes, as well as operators of farm machinery, he added.
Gulyás noted consumption had increased in recent days due to “petrol tourism”, increased transit and panic buying.
Meanwhile, Gulyás asked teachers to consider staying away from recently announced strike action or to postpone it.
The government agrees with the demands of teachers and is in negotiations with the European Commission on pay hikes of “at least three times 10%”, he said.
At the same time, the government “must also consider the interests of students and their parents,” he said.
Sanctions Should Not Harm Russian Energy Supplies
Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said late on Thursday that sanctions should not be introduced against Russian energy. In response to a question, he said such sanctions would harm many European countries as badly or even more so than Russia.
The Hungarian and Dutch prime ministers and the German chancellor share the view that “it is not Europe that we want to sanction”. He added that they trusted “common sense would prevail” at the extraordinary summit in Paris because a significant number of member states, or possibly the majority, shared the same position.
Hungarian oil and gas company MOL’s president-CEO Zsolt Hernádi said that the company was able to fulfil all fuel demands in Hungary, refineries were working without interruption, and crude oil supplies to Hungary were undisturbed.
“Abuses” of the cap must stop, he said. On an average day, petrol stations sell around 5 million litres of fuel, while in recent days this has tripled to around 15 million litres, he added. The refinery of Százhalombatta is operating at full capacity and MOL’s reserves are sufficient, he said.
At the same time, he said triple demand “cannot be managed by conventional means”, not because there is not enough fuel but because they are not logistically prepared.
As a result, intervention is needed and consumers must be directed back to the locations where they had previously received fuel, Hernádi said. If this is not done, the situation cannot be handled using conventional methods, he added.
The newly introduced measures are needed to guarantee undisturbed fuel supply, he said. The government has decided to reduce excise tax by 20 forints, greatly helping to restore imports and even out logistics burdens, he said.
Hernádi added that while supply and demand in the fuel market are uneven, “filling stations will apply minor restrictions for various lengths of time”.
PM Orbán: Hungary's Energy Supplies Guaranteed
“The most important issue for us has been settled favourably,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Versailles early on Friday, declaring that “there will be no [European Union] sanctions covering oil and gas; in other words Hungary’s energy supplies will be guaranteed in the coming period.”
In a video recorded after an extraordinary EU summit posted on Facebook, Orbán said: “We listened to the French president and German chancellor who had talks with Putin. It cannot be ruled out that the conflict will drag on. We have decided that Europe will also join ceasefire talks.”
At the meeting, “we thanked both the French president and the German chancellor for their efforts to restore peace,” the prime minister said. “We have done all this and we’ll continue in the morning,” he said.
Opposition Calls for EU Measures to Curb Energy Crisis
Opposition politicians on Friday called on the European Union to set up a fund to offset the fallout of the energy crisis, to stack up on energy resources and take steps against “Russian blackmail”.
Momentum vice-president Márton Ilyés told an online press conference that it was not the EU or the opposition that was at fault “but Russia, which is bombing nuclear plants and bombarding children’s hospitals in a neighbouring country.
Russia and President Vladimir Putin are not reliable partners, which is causing price rises and shortages.” He accused the Hungarian government of “scrambling” for solutions.
Price caps are causing a dearth of goods, he said. Retailers who “are not ready to sell at a loss are losing their property,” he said. Ilyés said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “has put all his chips on Russia”.
Electricity produced by the upgraded Paks nuclear plant would be “more expensive than any other technology”, he said. Meanwhile, the gas prices Russia and Hungary agreed on in the long-term agreement signed in September are confidential, “so there is no way of knowing whether they are good or not”, he said.
“The government was caught unprepared by the energy crisis, they have no reserves, plans or reliable allies,” he said. Jácint Horváth, a candidate of the united opposition, cited reports of faltering fuel supply at pumps, and said many petrol stations in the countryside could not serve customers.
“The failed policies of the Orbán government have led to the fuel supplies collapsing in Hungary,” he said. With that, basic services such as public transport are at risk, he said.
MTI Photo: Tibor Illyés