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.
Class FM licence for tender
The Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) has refused the request of national commercial radio Class FM to renew its licence, and said the authority will hold a new tender for the frequency. NMHH did not rule out Class FM continuing its service if it participates in the tender and submits the winning bid. Advenio, the operator of Class FM, said they will bid. The authority said Class FM’s seven-year licence for the frequency will expire in November. NMHH added that it may renew the licence once for a further five years at request under the law, but it is not compelled to do so. Advenio noted that Slager Radio Ltd., 85pc owned by CEO Michael McNut and 15pc by Marquard Media, bought it out from interests of businessman Lajos Simicska in May. Simicska and his one-time ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, had a falling out some 18 months ago. The new owners had operated Slager Radio which was the market-leading commercial radio before 2009, Advenio added. Class FM has 2.8 million listeners.
Ironman collapses, dies
A foreign competitor in the Ironman 70.3 Budapest triathlon died shortly after the event. The organisers said the competitor, who they did not identify, suddenly collapsed during the running leg. The triathlete was taken to hospital but was declared dead shortly afterwards. The organisers said they are prepared to support the athlete’s family in any way they can. “We are working closely with the relevant authorities … to ensure that triathletes can compete safely,” they added. Slovak press reports identified the competitor as Radoslav Okrucky, 41, a Slovak national, and said he collapsed 200 metres from the finish of the 21.1-kilometre running leg.
Gripens intercept passenger jet
A passenger jet travelling from Zurich to Hong Kong was intercepted by Hungarian Gripen fighter planes in early August after it entered Hungary’s airspace unannounced. The Defence Ministry said the Boeing 777 airliner entered from Austria, maintaining its flight path but failing to establish contact with Hungarian civilian air traffic control, and was not in contact with Austrian air traffic control either. The Gripens identified the plane and escorted it to the border before referring it to Romanian air traffic control, the ministry said. Flightradar data said the flight was operated by Cathay Pacific.
Telenor Hungary changes CEO
Alexandra Reich has been appointed chief executive officer of Telenor Hungary and executive vice-president of Telenor Group. She succeeds Christopher Laska, who is now senior vice-president of board governance and partner relations for Asia. Telenor Group president and CEO Sigve Brekke said: “Alexandra’s understanding of customers’ digital ambitions, her in-depth knowledge of the telecoms industry and her entrepreneurial drive makes me confident that she is a great addition to our team, and will continue to take our Hungarian business forward.” Reich said: “I have always closely followed the Telenor Group with great respect and was impressed by the innovation power and culture driving the company. I am very much looking forward to working with the team in Hungary.”
‘Chinese brothel’ busted
Police have raided a brothel run by a Chinese man in an apartment in Budapest’s District VII where Chinese prostitutes offered themselves exclusively to Asian clients, the national police headquarters has asserted. Police said they found five Chinese prostitutes and the man, 42, who faces charges of pimping and instigating prostitution. He allegedly took a large part of the money earned by the women.
Picasso creates impression
Hungary’s largest-ever Picasso exhibition has so far attracted more than 150,000 visitors since its opening in the National Gallery in April. “Picasso – Transfigurations, 1895-1972” displays some 100 paintings, drawings, sculptures and other artwork spanning the artist’s entire oeuvre of 77 years. Most of the works, 74, are on loan from the Picasso Museum in Paris, complemented with pieces from museums in Jerusalem, Basel, Bern and Moscow, and Hungarian public collections. The exhibition has been extended by a month until this Sunday and is open seven days a week.
Beware that taxi driver
Taking round-about routes, fiddling the meter and failing to give receipts and change are among the manifold abuses uncovered by Budapest transport authority BKK in its checks of taxi drivers in the capital. Business daily Világgazdaság said BKK had found many drivers flouting regulations in spite of inspections. Two out of every three checks uncovered one rule or another being broken, the paper said. Typically BKK does 250-300 inspections every month and it uncovered between 159 and 205 abuses each month between May and July this year.
Measures boost new homes
More than 5000 new homes came on to the market in Budapest in the first half of this year and some 2800 have been sold already, business daily Világgazdaság said, citing OTP Mortgage Bank data. The paper said 7500 home constructions have been announced as part of 40 investment projects. David Valko, an analyst at the bank, said the reduction in VAT on new homes has boosted investment activity. Demand has been stoked by the government’s family home creation subsidy, he said. The possibility of re-claiming VAT on home construction expenses had increased people’s willingness to finance their own construction projects. Valko said one novelty is that big investors are announcing in advance where they plan to build homes in the next four or five years. Competition was expected to be intense and it was well worth their while convincing potential buyers to commit themselves.
Sziget casts net wide
The week-long Sziget Festival on Obuda Island drew a record 496,000 visitors this year, the organisers said. The former record was 441,000 last year. The 2016 festival attracted visitors from most countries, including Nigeria, Vietnam, Qatar, the Marshall Islands, Lebanon, China and the Ivory Coast, the organisers claimed. The event had generated around 2500 cubic metres of waste, 35 percent of which was recycled. Some 10,000 people had participated in the various recycling programmes. And Sziget’s new entrance system had improved security, with the number of petty crimes reported dropping more than half.
Meat firm fined
Competition office GVH has fined meat company Pick Szeged HUF 44 million for influencing the pricing of its products at wholesalers and retailers. GVH said Pick pressured sellers to set a fixed minimal price for its products as part of its marketing strategy to enhance the image of its products compared to those of competitors. The competition office said retailers and wholesalers were also interested in ensuring there would be no competitors undercutting their prices to customers. GVH said price fixing is a serious breach of regulation and it was aggravated by Pick being a market leader, but it was an alleviating factor that Pick fully confessed.
Workplace deaths rise
The number of workplace accidents in Hungary rose 27.5pc to 10,276 in the first half from the same period in 2015, a report by the Ministry of National Economy’s labour oversight department shows. The data cover accidents that required more than three days of recovery time. The accidents resulted in 36 deaths, 13 more than a year earlier. Accidents in the machinery industry accounted for 2127 of the total. There were 1760 accidents in the manufacturing industry and 1219 in the logistics and telecommunications segment. Construction sector accidents came to 357 and six of these resulted in death.
Black economy crackdown backed
The majority of Hungarians support the government crackdown on the shadow economy but many do not consider the infrastructure needed to tackle grey and black markets is sufficiently developed, a survey by Nezopont Institute has shown. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they typically encounter tax avoidance when paying for household repair and maintenance services, such as plumbing, building work or cleaning. This generally entails failure to receive invoices and receipts. Nezopont found that retail outlets fail to provide customers with receipts 53 percent of the time while hospitality and catering outlets fail to do so 19 percent of the time. Most respondents considered the use of electronic payment systems effective in tackling fraud. Fully 88 percent of respondents said they are satisfied with the electronic payment opportunities available.
Poor wheat quality may hit bread price
poor quality of Hungary’s near-record wheat harvest this year could put pressure on the price of bakery products, daily Népszava believes. Farm economist György Raskó told the paper that only one-third of this year’s crop is of milling quality, the lowest ratio in a long time. Népszava noted that the bakery industry has been pressing the government for years to lower the VAT rate on its products from 18 percent to 5 percent. Bakers’ margins now stand at just 0-2 percent, making capital expenditures impossible, the paper said. The industry was also struggling with a shortage of 2500-3000 labourers who have gone abroad to better-paid jobs. Hungarian Grain Association chief secretary Zsofia Potsa said Hungary’s milling industry has been loss-making for years.
Roma foundation stealing: LMP
An educational foundation associated with Flórián Farkas, the prime minister’s commissioner on Roma affairs, is merely a “drain” for public funds, opposition LMP co-leader Ákos Hadházy asserts. Referring to information from the Roma self government, Hadházy said the foundation was informally controlled by Farkas, and demanded an investigation into the utilisation of a HUF 10 million grant the foundation received from the Ministry of Human Resources to set up a “network of mentors” this year. “You cannot set up such a network out of 10 million forints,” he said. “However, you could give splendid sums to a few faithful who will vote in the Roma government on your instructions.” Hadházy noted that the foundation had handled 500 million forints in European Union funds in 2014, out of which 200 million was spent on “personal payments”. The next year, the foundation paid 52 million forints to a private company to organise 12-day programmes for families, and spent another 46 million on its headquarters in Budapest, a property in “remarkably good condition”, he said. In May, a deputy of the Roma self government suggested that the organisation was still informally run by Farkas, its former leader, and said members of the incumbent leadership accept bribes from Farkas and follow his instructions. Another deputy said the training foundation and another association aimed at promoting Roma employment were also under Farkas’ control, and demanded that the government stop financing these organisations because “it is obvious that those funds will disappear”.
Innovation ranking steady
Hungary is 33rd out of 128 countries in the 2016 Global Innovation Index, measuring the innovation performance of countries based on 82 indicators and compiled by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Switzerland was first with 66.28 points. The Czech Republic was 27th, Slovakia 37th, Poland 39th, Croatia 47th and Romania 48th. Last year Hungary was 35th out of 141 countries.