Hungary’s sustainable development indicators have deteriorated since the 1990s while the poverty gap has widened over the same period, the Central Statistical Office said in a report published last Thursday. According to the report, poverty has increased while the distribution of wealth has become more unbalanced, obesity has risen, more women smoke and even the amount of waste produced has climbed upwards. The birth rate has also fallen.
More and more jobseekers are using employment agencies in an attempt to find work but fewer are actually successful, the business daily Világgazdaság reported last Thursday. The paper said that 636,000 people used agencies in 2006, 75% more than the previous year. However, the agencies only managed to place 29,000 people in jobs, 8% fewer than two years previously. Demand for men over 30 dropped although young unskilled workers were more popular.
Japanese carmaker Suzuki is to expand its Hungarian workforce by 1,000 to 6,000 employees by the end of the year. The increase is needed as the company plans to increase output with the production of two new models – the Suzuki Splash and the Opel Agila – at its Esztergom factory in December. A spokesman for the company said that 80,000 Agilas and 40,000 Splashes will be assembled next year. The company expects total annual output to rise by 36% to 300,000 in 2008. Suzuki sold 33,000 cars in Hungary in 2006.
Business executives are well paid, according to a recent survey by consultants at the Hay Group. Hungary ranks at number 36 out of 47 countries surveyed. Executive salaries were adjusted to take into account the local cost of living. On this scale, Hungarian business leaders have a purchasing power equivalent to an annual salary of EUR 66,000, placing them ahead of their British and Finnish counterparts. Managers in the emerging markets of Russia and Turkey came in the top ten in terms of spending power.
The Hungarian Guild of Caterers issued a statement last Wednesday arguing that a complete ban on smoking would seriously damage the industry. This was in response to government announcements earlier in the week suggesting that in 2009 Hungary might follow the European trend of introducing a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places. The Guild fears that smokers will stop eating and drinking in public, and said the catering industry is already reeling from a roughly 30% drop in income as a result of the government’s ongoing austerity measures.
A sports official apologised last Wednesday after it emerged that he had under-measured the distance of an international marathon held in Debrecen by over 2 kilometres, MTI news agency reported. Peter Pignitzky calibrated the distance for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but he incorrectly set up his bicycle-mounted distance counter and ended up setting a course that was 2,198 metres shorter than it should have been. Kenyan Philip Serem won the race with a time of 2:10:46, which was still five minutes short of the world record despite the two-kilometre saving.
The government is to set up a commission to look into whether to publish the names of Communist-era informers and the best way to do so. The commission is expected to run until the end of the year. Currently, only researchers and people whose names appear in the files can access the archives. Names of informers have leaked out down the years and have included major politicians and senior church officials.
South Korean Ambassador to Hungary Eom Seock-Jong last week challenged animal rights activists to prove their claims that Hungarian dogs had been exported to be eaten as part of a “health diet” in South Korea. Seock-Jeong threatened to take action against the activists if they could not prove their claims, adding that most people do not interfere with the cultural or eating habits of other countries. Hungarian dog exports have tripled in value this year to USD 9,000 but there is no evidence that the animals were eaten, MTI news agency said.
Budapest Mayor Gábor Demszky last Tuesday offered a HUF 500,000 (EUR 2,038) reward for information leading to those who stole the bronze boots, cloak and laurel from the grave of Géza Hofi, a renowned actor and humourist. Unknown perpetrators stole the items from the Farkasréti graveyard at some point between 5am and 9am last Monday. Demszky said he did not see the incident as just simple theft, but as the desecration of a grave. The Kossuth-Prize-winning Hofi, who also is the subject of a statue on Nagymez? utca outside the Mikroszkóp Színpad, died in 2000.
Four people have been arrested in central Hungary as part of a crackdown on a gang of international drug smugglers, police in Fejér County said last Monday. Police said that the four men, who were arrested in three separate raids, were in possession of drugs with a street value of HUF 60 million (EUR 243,827). The first arrest came the previous Saturday evening, when a Hungarian citizen was stopped on a motorway near Budapest and found to be carrying ecstasy and amphetamines. Another two Hungarian citizens were then arrested on the same motorway and found to be carrying a large consignment of drugs. Information from the second arrest led to a Dutch citizen staying in a hotel in Vecsés, central Hungary. Police said the man’s car contained secret compartments designed to smuggle drugs. A total of 30,000 ecstasy tablets and 14 kilograms of amphetamine, which police said had been smuggled into the country from Amsterdam to be sold in Fejér County, were seized in the raid.