Parliamentary debate on utilisation of development funds

 The debate which the House will conduct on Monday regarding the disbursement of EU funds available during the period between 2014 and 2020 will feature, among others, “perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in Hungary’s modern-day history” and the threats regarding the possible blocking of cohesion funds, Nándor Csepreghy, Minister of State of the Prime Minister’s Office said at his press conference which he held jointly with Erik Bánki, President of the Economic Committee.

Mr Csepreghy reiterated: the House will debate for the fourth time how the HUF 12 thousand billion available for domestic developments is being used. He pointed out: Hungarian businesses and municipalities have access to two thirds of the allocation via calls for proposals, while the rest of the funds are normative grants and are available, among others, to farmers.

He highlighted: the goal of the Government was to place the available funds within the shortest possible time in the interest of improving competitiveness. The entire allocation was  made available in the form of calls for proposals by the spring of this year, he stressed, and 80 per cent of the applications have already been assessed. This year’s disbursements will amount to some HUF 2,500 billion.

He also spoke about topics which give rise to debates between Brussels and Budapest. Among these he mentioned the case of the construction of metro line 4 as “perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in Hungary’s modern-day history”. He reiterated: the project started with a budget of HUF 166 billion in 2002. It later transpired, however, that the entire allocation had been embezzled by 2010, and the project eventually actually cost HUF 452 billion. He found it objectionable that the socialists have decided not to take part in the debate in which they would have a chance to answer the question of where the metro funds disappeared to.

He further mentioned the “threats” which are aimed at the reallocation of cohesion funds to the promotion of illegal immigration. We must take firm action against these attempts, he pointed out.

Mr Bánki welcomed the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office renders an account of issues regarding the distribution, calls for proposals and disbursement of EU funds twice annually. As he said, he is not surprised that the socialists do not attend the debate as, in his view, they have nothing to say on the matter. The MSZP-SZDSZ governments led by Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai maintained an overly bureaucratic tender system, he said, in the interest of ensuring that municipalities and economic actors themselves should not even be able to apply for funds.

Among the irregularities, he mentioned the fact that the experts who developed the mechanism for the distribution of funds were later involved in the same process in the capacity of advisors. The assessment procedures were also significantly delayed, he continued, and there were instances when the entire procedure took 3 to 4 years to complete. A number of municipalities found themselves indebted on account of the fact that they were forced to undertake to supply own resources even in situations when they did not actually have the funds, he said listing the former problems which the Cabinet has since resolved.

We sincerely hope that the contracting process may be concluded by the middle of next year, he stated.

He also spoke about the fact that the available funds have become a source of blackmail for Brussels: under the threat of blocking EU funds, they are trying to induce governments to accept the mandatory quota system which their own citizens are opposed to. Hungarian Members of the European Parliament are also actively assisting the implementation of the Soros plan, he remarked.

He pointed out at the same time: according to the head of the European Anti-Fraud Office, the percentage of problems that may be observed in Hungary in the context of EU grants does not deviate from the EU average.

In response to the suggestion that some Hungarian public figures wish to recommend George Soros for the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Csepreghy said: we are already past 1 April this year, while 2018 is far away as yet. Mr Bánki too dismissed the suggestion as frivolous, saying that the individuals concerned are subordinates of George Soros’s foundations.

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