The Budapest Times is unrivalled among English-language print publications in the capital for its coverage of the week’s most important national stories, whether they be economic, political, cultural, sporting or among the hundreds of other happenings that go on daily in a major European city. Here, in one concise package, we present some of the important and fascinating news developments of the past seven days.
Hungary’s three-time medley world champion Katinka Hosszú won 16 of the 17 individual contests at the recent swimming short-track national championships and another gold as part of the 4×50 metre medley relay. In the 17th individual event – 800 metre freestyle – she finished second behind Boglárka Kapás. Hosszú’s domination was so overwhelming that she managed to make the final of the 400 metre freestyle as seventh despite miscounting the distance and temporarily stopping 50 metres short.
Prezi director web entrepreneur of year
Hungarian presentation software developer Prezi’s co-founder and director Péter Árvai has won the European Web Entrepreneur of the Year award. The announcement was made at the world’s leading internet conference, the WebSummit, in Dublin last week. The Commission established the award with the Hub Institute and the Deloitte consultancy to recognise new European entrepreneurs and enterprises that develop innovative digital solutions or services, Prezi said. It is the first time a Hungarian entrepreneur has won it. Prezi, founded by three young Hungarians in 2009, has more than 45 million users worldwide and head offices in San Francisco and Budapest.
German carmaker Audi has launched production of the third-generation TT Roadster model at its plant in Györ. Hungarian companies supply 60% of the new model’s content. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the ceremony that Hungary “is by now impossible to imagine without Audi and its car production activities here”. He said Audi did not try to take away Hungarian knowledge and talent but it understood that “we Hungarians can and want to perform exceptionally in our own country”. Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler said Audi’s presence in Győr was deep-rooted and called it “an important engine of growth” for the carmaker.
Fat tax yields EUR 178m since 2011
Revenue from the public health “fat tax” totalled more than HUF 55 billion since its introduction, Magyar Nemzet daily has reported. The tax on “unhealthy” food and drinks with high sugar, salt, carbohydrate and caffeine content began in September 2011. The aim was to promote healthier eating habits and the production of healthier food, as well as to provide a source of increased funding for health-care programmes and for improving health-care services. The revenue, along with other funds, is spent on raising wages in the health-care sector, the paper said, citing the state secretariat in charge.
Hungary steady as others rise in Doing Business survey
Hungary remained at 54th in a comparison of business regulations for domestic firms in 189 economies, in the latest Doing Business survey of the World Bank. The Czech Republic moved to 44th place from 75th last year, Slovakia to 37th from 49th, Poland to 32th from 45th and Romania to 48th from 73th. The survey investigates how the regulatory environment makes the life of businesses easier or more difficult in terms of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, getting electricity, registering property, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. It also analyses labour market regulation.
The Fidesz parliamentary group has agreed on a number of measures at the municipality of Budapest, including handing the city’s mayor a stronger power of veto and requiring a four-fifths majority to dissolve the assembly. The proposal is to allow the mayor to initiate proceedings as many times as he likes on a particular issue, according to a bill on local government submitted to Parliament by Antal Rogán, the ruling party’s group leader, and several Fidesz MPs. Further, on personal and institutional matters the assembly would only be allowed to decide on an issue at the proposal of the mayor, according to the bill. Rogán said the mayor would have a genuine veto as opposed to the current situation whereby a veto of assembly decisions can be made only once on a particular issue, for example concerning a decision the mayor deems as hurting the municipality’s interests. Extending the mayor’s power to allow a municipal decision to be revisited would better enforce the principle of preliminary consensus required between districts and the Budapest municipality. As part of the bill, Budapest’s mayor would be afforded ministerial-level perks (pictured is the inaugural session of the new Budapest City Council).
Moody’s less negative on Hungary
Moody’s Investor Service has changed its outlook on the Ba1 government bond rating of Hungary to stable from negative. The agency has concurrently affirmed the country’s Ba1 rating. The key drivers for the outlook change have been Hungary’s improving medium-term economic outlook, the government’s commitment to maintaining its headline deficit below 3% of GDP which has helped stabilise its debt ratio, and improved resilience to external shocks, Moody’s said. Hungary’s economy was showing signs of stabilisation after seven years of extremely low growth, averaging -0.4% between 2007 and 2013, it said. Moody’s expects real GDP growth to be around 3% in 2014 and 2.4% in 2015. The Ministry for National Economy said this positive outlook reflected the government’ achievements in keeping public debt under control and in promoting economic growth.
Former Polish president Lech Walesa has been presented with the St. István prize at a ceremony in the Academy of Sciences. The prize is awarded in recognition of acts that have benefitted the Hungarian nation, former president of the republic Pál Schmitt noted. Walesa said: “The opportunities that fate hands down should be made use of, since many nations fought for what we have in our hands: we are free, we live in a free Europe and we must make use of that freedom appropriately.”