The government has invited bids in a tender for the building of the planned new government quarter near Nyugati railway station.
South Korean tyre-manufacturer Hankook began production at its EUR 500 million plant in Dunaújváros last week amid criticism from main opposition party Fidesz and complaints from employees. The plant, which currently employs 800 people, plans to make 5 million tyres per year in the first phase.
Hungary’s productivity has climbed to 60% of the EU average, according to a new report. Professor Ivan T. Berend of UCLA, speaking at a conference held to mark the 15th anniversary of the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB), put the rise down to massive USD 240 billion influx of cash since 1989. FDI accounts for two thirds of this figure, he said, and went on to liken the effect to that of funds paid out to Europe under the post-WW2 Marshall Plan. The gap between the east and the west in Europe is closing, he added. In 1990, productivity was USD 5-7 per hour in the region, less than a quarter of the USD 25-28 in Western Europe. The change in the relative level of pay does not reflect this change. In the early nineties, Hungarians took home just seven per cent of what their German counterparts earned. Today, Hungarian wages are still on average only about one-fifth of those in Germany.
The confidence level of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)Â dipped sharply in June, figures released last Thursday by Ecostat, the research arm of the Central Statistical Office (KSH) showed. Ecostat said that the SME business confidence index dropped to 39.7 points from 46.2, the lowest since September 2006. The drop marked the end of a steady eight-month rise in confidence. Regarding the future of their own business, only 11% of the managers were optimistic, as opposed to 26% in May. Some 45% of managers expressed pessimism, a sharp hike on the 29% in May.
A National Association of Entrepreneurs (VOSZ) survey has found that the inflationary pressure on wages is only due in a small part to government efforts to whiten the economy. Deputy Chairman of VOSZ Tamás Gláser told business daily Napi Gazdaság that only 20% of the rise was due to whitening, while up to 60% was up to real wage increases. The government has claimed that this date showed it was making great strides in tackling the black and grey economies. Hungarian National Bank Governor András Simor, while explaining the bank’s surprise rate cut last week, said that increases in gross wages were in part due to the whitening of the economy, and thus represented a smaller-than-thought inflationary risk.
The jobless rate fell to 7.3% in March-May from 7.5% in February-April, the Central Statistical Office said last Thursday. There were 307,700 jobless in March-May, down from 314,300 in Feb-April.
The European Court of Justice is set to rule in the autumn on whether Hungary’s local business tax complies with EU regulations after it finished hearing the case last Thursday. Complainant companies claim that the tax is turnover-based, while EU regulations allow only one such tax (VAT), and want their payments since Hungary joined the EU in May 2004 reimbursed.
The daughter and one of the sons of US Ambassador to Hungary April Foley were caught up in bar scuffle in District VIII, Kossuth Rádió reported. Budapest Police spokesman Tibor Jármy said that a fight broke out after two groups of people got into an argument, resulting in light injuries to one person. US Embassy spokeswomanÂ Kate Byrnes refused to comment on the issue, saying it was a private family matter.
A zoo in the town of Veszprém (north of Lake Balaton) has adopted a two-and-a-half tonne white Rhino called Pablo. The safari park in Hannover, Germany where the humungous herbivore lived no longer had enough room for him, explained a spokesman last week. Veszprém zoo has built a special one-hectare enclosure for Pablo, and plans to find him some friends to share his new home with in the near future. Spokesman Lajos Endredi said the zoo will be participating in a programme to save the critically endangered species. Hungary’s other famous rhino, the calf that become the first white rhino to be born after artificial insemination, is doing well, Budapest Zoo said last week. Layla, who was born on 23 January this year, is already approaching 300 kilograms.Â
A policeman unintentionally shot a colleague last Thursday at the Teve utca headquarters of the Budapest police, the daily Népszabadság reported last week. The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting are unclear, but it appears that detectives were kitting up for shooting practice when a gun was accidentally fired. The bullet passed through a plasterboard wall and a colleague on the other side – who was also getting ready to brush up his marksmanship – was wounded in the arm. The hapless victim was operated on at the Uzsoki hospital, and his condition is said to be not serious. An inquiry into the incident has been launched.