Presenting in one concise package the week’s most important and fascinating national stories, whether they be economic, political, cultural, sporting or among the hundreds of other happenings that go on daily.
Health-care workers protesting against low wages blocked Erzsébet Bridge in Budapest for 18 minutes in an early morning protest that then continued on the pavement. The couple of dozen flashmobbers closed the Pest side to all but buses, the state news agency reported. Their posters had slogans such as: “Hungary! Do not allow your nurses abroad!” Mária Sándor, who became known for wearing black attire at work, said they wanted to warn the government about the untenable situation. Unless pay rose, another massive wave of nurses and physicians would emigrate and no one would care for patients, she said.
Waiting lists referendum nixed
The Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, has turned down a referendum initiative aimed at cutting the waiting time for health-care services. The ruling, published on Tuesday, said the referendum would saddle Parliament with “an ambiguous legislative obligation”. On May 7 the National Election Committee gave the go-ahead to the referendum initiative, under which waiting times for elective medical procedures would have been cut to a maximum six months. The proposed question was “Do you agree that patients should be performed an elective medical procedure no later than six months from the time they are entered on a waiting list?” Kúria decisions cannot be appealed.
Hungary’s economic growth seems to be losing some steam but it “does not change the macro story”, which overall remains positive, London-based emerging markets economists said on Tuesday. In its “CEEMEA Economic Autumn Outlook” report to clients in London, Morgan Stanley said the economy had “less momentum than we anticipated” in the second quarter, therefore “our previous forecasts for 3.5 percent GDP growth this year and 2.5 percent next year now look out of reach (…) We therefore downgrade our GDP forecasts to 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2016”. However, this somewhat slower than expected growth “does not really change the underlying macro story” as Hungary continues to enjoy a recovery in domestic demand from depressed levels. Fiscal policy was turning expansionary after years of austerity, rates were at record lows and consumers had received a large wealth transfer from the banks following the foreign exchange loan conversion this year, and faced a debt-service burden of sub-8 percent of disposable income, the lowest in over ten years, Morgan Stanley’s analysts said.
Paks to top up stadium funding
The local government of Paks has decided to top up 800 million forints in state funding with 600 million from city coffers to expand its football club’s stadium. Mayor János Süli said the expansion could start in 2016, increasing the stadium seats to 3,000-3,500.
Have holiday, will surf
Fifteen percent of Hungarians find the internet vital for planning their summer holidays, and 8 percent say they cannot do without net access during that time, a survey by PayPal and GfK has revealed. Just over 40 percent of the nation’s holidaymakers surfed the net for offers and 63 percent gathered information about the selected destination using search engines. Only 15 percent turned to a travel agency for information about a place and even fewer (12 percent) said they had asked an agent either personally or by phone to select one. The main factor influencing the choice of accommodation is still the price (62 percent), followed by online rating or the experience of friends.
Plaque for saver of Jews
A memorial plaque honouring Sir Nicholas Winton, a humanitarian who organised the rescue of hundreds of Jewish children to Britain before the Second World War, was unveiled in the garden of Budapest’s Dohány utca synagogue on Tuesday. Gábor Gordon, head of the March of the Living Foundation, noted at the unveiling that Winton went to Czechoslovakia in 1938, where he witnessed the masses of people fleeing from the Nazi threat. This was when he started organising the rescue of Jews, Gordon said. Winton had organised the operation from the British embassy in Prague, then from a local hotel before finally moving his base to London. He had moved a total of 669 children from Prague to London in a matter of months and found homes for them with British families. Juraj Chmiel, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Hungary, said it was important to spread the word on Winton’s rescue work because there are still many who are unaware of it. Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor noted that Winton was recognised as a Righteous among the Nations for his efforts in saving Jews during the Holocaust. Mor said Holocaust survivors “never forget those who saved them”. He noted that 880 people had received the award in Hungary, adding that the embassy of Israel continues to search for people deserving it.
It’s a scorcher!
Budapest witnessed a record 35.4 C on Tuesday, the hottest since 1942 when the mercury hit 34.1 C. In the country as a whole on Tuesday the highest temperature, 36.9 C, was recorded in Dombegyház, in the southern Great Plain. The previous country heat record was in 2012 when it was 35.2 C on this day, September 1.
The tomb of Gul Baba, one of the westernmost holy shrines of Muslims, is closed for archeological excavation until late this month. There will be a complete refurbishment of the octagonal tomb, a steep walk up the hill from the Buda side of Margaret Bridge, archeologist Adrienn Papp of Budapest History Museum said. Gul Baba (The Father of Roses) was a dedicated dervish who introduced rose gardens in Hungary in the 16th century. A poet and soldier, he took part in several campaigns with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. He died in 1541.
Anti-counterfeiting tool made
Hungarian company Vasbeta has spent HUF 1 billion developing a high-security anti-counterfeiting label that can be applied to all types of goods, managing director György Barta has announced in Miskolc. He said the microscopic labels are tamper-proof, individually unique and cannot be removed without visible damage.