The government is planning a ten-point law and order package called “Order and Security”, Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai announced at the year opening of the Police Officer Training College in Budapest last week. “From next year, 50 per cent more law enforcement students will be trained and 1,000 police officers will patrol the streets. A village guard will be established and will be authorised to investigate matters of petty theft,” Bajnai said. He also announced more support for civilian policing through subsidies to local civilian guards (polgárorség), as well as increased funding for the National Bureau of Investigation (NNI) and more CCTV cameras on the streets. The prime minister said there was no room in Hungary for people taking the law into their own hands in the form of illegal militias like the recently outlawed far right paramilitaryÂ Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda).
A spa centre located on a thermal lake in the western town of Nyíregyháza is to receive an HUF 1.2 billion (EUR 4.40 million) makeover, fifty per cent of which will come from EU sources, the CEO of operator Sóstó-Gyógyfürdok, Tamás Belus, said last week. The development is slated for completion in time for the summer season next year.
The Lake Balaton region could fall into disrepair if the government goes ahead with planned cuts to subsidies targeted at the region, the head of the regional interest group Balatoni Szövetség, Balázs Árpád told Gazdasági Rádió last week. The region has hitherto received two forints in subsidies for every one forint collected in tax from local businesses. The draft budget released last week allows for a halving of this pay out.
In order to concentrate his efforts on the parliamentary elections, the embattled leader of the National Gypsy Council (OCÖ) Orbán Kolompár will delegate 80 per cent of his powers to four of his deputies. The Roma party leader told reporters last Thursday that his decision does not mean that he is quitting as president and denied that it was in any way connected to the ongoing criminal procedures against him, nor to members of his party calling for his resignation.
Departing Secret Services Minister Ádám Ficsor will be replaced by state secretary Gábor Juhász from the Justice Ministry, the cabinet spokeswoman announced last Thursday. Juhász is a mechanical engineer, who won his district in Nógrád County at the 2006 elections and has worked at the Justice Ministry since 1 October, 2007.
“The police decision to disperse the crowd protesting the dissolution of the right-wing militia the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) at Erzsébet tér on 4 July was unlawful,” civil rights ombudsman Máté Szabó wrote in his report published last Thursday. Szabó also requested police and parliament to clarify protest and demonstration regulations, noting that there had been no proper warning prior to the dispersal and warning that “clothing alone is not sufficient grounds to call a demonstration a riot.” The radical Jobbik party welcomed the decision, while the police issued a statement saying that it will examine the document. Â
The economic crisis could well give rise to a nationwide social crisis if there are widespread job losses among the working and middle classes, Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai warned a group of ambassadors to Hungary last Wednesday. He noted that political uncertainty could lead politicians to use foreign policy as a means to draw attention from difficult issues at home. Regarding foreign policy, Bajnai said Hungary is in no way irredentist and makes no territorial claims. On the ongoing row over a Slovak law restricting the use of foreign languages, Bajnai noted that minority rights are a fundamental European value. He said Slovakia is the only one of Hungary’s seven neighbours with which there are currently diplomatic problems. He restated his support for the accession to the EU of Serbia and Croatia.
Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai last week ordered a hiring freeze in public administration, government spokesman Domokos Szollár said last Tuesday. Any vacancies that arise as a result of retirement or resignation will not be filled, and ministries and other institutions of government will no longer be permitted to outsource work to subcontractors, Szollár said. Only departments involved in police work and preparations for Hungary’s turn at the rotating EU presidency in 2011 are exempt from the cost-cutting drive. The government estimates that the measure will save some HUF 1 billion (EUR 3.71 million) this year.
Local councils will have to tighten their belts next year, Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai warned last Tuesday after a meeting with the Fidesz mayor of Debrecen Lajos Kósa. Cuts will be made to local government funding in next year’s crisis management budget, although the reductions will not be uniform, Bajnai said. He said red tape must be cut and activities that are not part of the remit of local councils must be budgeted for elsewhere.
The chairwoman of the governing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), Ildiko Lendvai, last week asked the opposition leader Viktor Orbán to refrain from making any comments on the Hungarian economy. In the wake of Hungary’s first successful foreign-currency government bond issue since the financial crisis hit last year, Lendvai said Orbán’s loose talk about relaxing austerity measures and allowing the budget deficit to grow could destroy the growing confidence that international markets have been showing in Hungary. Fidesz spokesman András Cser-Palkovics responded by describing Hungary as the “sick child” of Europe, saying the “those who created the crisis are not fit to manage it.”