“Survival Programme”: Will Budapest Go Bankrupt, & If So Who's to Blame?

  • 14 Jul 2023 9:28 AM
  • Hungary Matters
“Survival Programme”: Will Budapest Go Bankrupt, & If So Who's to Blame?
The current Budapest administration would be “far from blameless” if the capital were to go bankrupt, István Tarlós, the city’s former mayor, told the daily Magyar Nemzet in connection with last week’s reports that Budapest’s leadership had told the finance ministry in March that the capital would go bankrupt.

“I don’t know for certain how much truth there is to a direct threat of bankruptcy,” Tarlós told the paper.

“It may or may not be true. The city administration isn’t keeping to the rules of mathematics when it comes to numbers; that much has been clear for a long time.”

He said Gergely Karácsony would not want to be known as the first mayor in Budapest’s 150 year history under whom the city went bankrupt.

“For my part, I don’t wish bankruptcy on the city or Karácsony, but if it does happen, the city leadership would be far from blameless,” Tarlós said.

The former mayor said his administration had inherited a debt of 251 billion forints (EUR 665.8m) in 2010 but handed over the city with reserves of around 200 billion forints in 2019. It should also be noted that business tax revenues under Karácsony’s administration increased by 107 billion forints, he added.

The Budapest City Council currently has “minus 1.1 billion forints [EUR 2.9m]” on its account, which means the capital is operating from an overdraft, deputy mayor Ambrus Kiss said at a press conference.

Describing Budapest’s financial plight, Kiss said the capital’s situation “is not rosy at all and has not been resolved”.

Data for the first half of the year show the “survival programme” is working, but this does not mean that they have recovered from the financial difficulties that were not caused by the municipality, he added.

The deputy mayor said they had a “surprise” on July 4 when the Hungarian Treasury collected 3.9 billion from the capital’s account, in connection with the city’s solidarity contribution to government coffers.

The municipality earlier initiated an administrative lawsuit and requested immediate legal protection against paying the contribution, he said.

Commenting on the statement, ruling Fidesz said that “despite growing revenues, Gergely Karácsony and the leftist parties have pushed the country’s richest municipality into bankruptcy.”

The statement said that Karácsony had assumed office with reserves of 200 billion forints, adding that budgetary support and revenues had “never been higher”.

“This goes to show that Budapest is being put at risk by irresponsible and wasteful policies, and by [Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc] Gyurcsány’s people getting into key positions,” Fidesz said.

MTI Photo: Zoltán Máthé

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