Illegal immigration could be a direct threat to the general level of public security which has been restored in recent years, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference Governmentinfo 78 which he held jointly with Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács.

The Minister reiterated that the Government embarked on its job in office in 2010 against the background of 440-450,000 registered crimes. By 2016 this number fell to between 270,000-290,000, he said.

The Minister cited several items of data: there were 310 murders in 2010, as against 224 in 2016; the number of thefts stood at 185 thousand in 2010, which fell to just 92 thousand in 2016; the number of robberies decreased from 3,400 to 1,141 by 2016. He added: while the number of crimes committed on public premises was 117 thousand in 2010, this number was just 54,000 in 2016. Mr Lázár said that in 2010, the investigation of 46 out of 100 registered crimes was closed successfully, as against 63 in 2016.

Mr Lázár believes that the fact that an additional 7,100 persons were hired to boost the personnel of the police was one of the factors contributing to the reduction in the number of crimes. The system of community policing and the introduction of the police career model were also responsible for the improved statistics, he added.

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The Minister said that the more stringent Penal Code has likewise contributed to the improved level of public security. He added: while in 2010 12,000 to 13,000 people were in prison, this number currently stands at between 17,000-18,000. Equally, we should not underestimate, he continued, the significance of the fact that employment has increased, and there are individuals in the public works schemes who are now living off work, rather than social benefits and supplementary theft.

He said that the Government decided on the procurement of further police helicopters on Wednesday.

Pay of workers of state-owned companies to increase by 30 per cent up to 2019

The pay of the workers of state-owned companies will increase by 30 per cent in several stages up to 2019, Mr Lázár said. The Minister told the press that the Government approved for the Hungarian railway company MÁV a 13 per cent pay rise for this year, 12 per cent for next year, and an additional 5 per cent for 2019, while the employees of the Hungarian Postal Service will receive a 14 per cent pay rise this year, 12 per cent next year, and 6 per cent in 2019.

He further reported that, in the case of the 230 state-owned companies coming under the Ministry for National Development, they decided that the some 100 thousand workers who would earn less than the minimum wage will receive the new minimum wage and the guaranteed wage minimum. This represents a sum of HUF 14 billion, he said, adding that the pay rise also involving the rest of the employees could amount to an item of some HUF 100 billion on an annual level.

He also reiterated that in 2017 the pay rises implemented earlier will continue in other sectors as well: the pay of members of the police force, teachers, social, cultural and health care workers will increase, inter alia.

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Metro 4 project: gravest series of left-wing thefts of past 27 years

The Minister repeatedly pointed out that he regards the metro 4 project as the gravest series of thefts associated with the international left which involves some HUF 406 billion. He told the press: the possibility emerged for the publication of the OLAF report on account of the protection of the capital’s interests and important public interests.

They will receive the official Hungarian version in March, and they will have 60 days from then on to respond to the report together with the metropolitan municipality. The Ministry for National Development will review the some 60 contracts in irregularity procedures, he added, reiterating that reports have been filed with the police on account of 53 contracts, and investigations have been instituted against unknown perpetrators in those instances.

Mr Lázár confirmed that the Government is suspending the payment of a further grant of HUF 20 billion in connection with the project. He justified this measure with a provision of the Act on State Finances. As he said, extraordinary circumstances have emerged, and there is no scope for deliberation.

Delay in EC decision is causing the economy losses

The Minister also told the press: the fact that the European Commission has been unable to decide on the case of prohibited state aid in connection with the Paks project for 18 months is causing the economy losses and is increasing the country’s dependence on imported energy. He indicated that he will travel to Brussels on Tuesday to clarify this issue, in addition to others.

He pointed out that there are several disputes regarding the fate of funds intended for Hungary, and he will therefore meet with several commissioners. As he said, he will seek to achieve a breakthrough in the case of Paks 2. At the same time, the project is facing multiple attacks from Austria and Germany as well as from NGOs and civil society organisations financed by them.

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The question is beginning to arise as to why Hungary is being discriminated against, and why Brussels has failed to adopt a decision, the Minister remarked, who expressed hope that the delay is not due to Western-European economic interests, but is caused merely by „the jungle of law and bureaucracy”. He added that he would like to reach an agreement in the spirit of constructive dialogue.

As he said, at present Paks supplies 50 per cent of Hungary’s electricity, and the need for energy is increasing year after year. At the same time, several power stations have to be closed down, and therefore the country may be forced to rely on even more imports.

Government must deal with inferior foodstuffs on the shelves of Hungarian supermarkets

The Government will have to deal – as a particular priority, from the angles of consumer protection and food safety – with the fact that multinational food manufacturers sell products of inferior quality in Hungary, compared with the products they sell in Western-Europe, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Mr Lázár told the press that he was shocked to read the report of the National Food Chain Safety Office on the comparison of 24 product samples concluding the following: the very same companies sell the very same products of higher quality to the Austrians than to the Hungarians. This confirms the assumption that these multinational companies are trying to sell „food industry rubbish” in Hungary, he said.

We are on the verge of the greatest scandal of the period to come which will equally raise issues of food safety, quality and trade policy, he stressed, asking the question: why cannot a Hungarian have access to the same product as an Austrian?

According to the Minister, it will be necessary to implement the package of consumer protection measures in the context of retail which has twice before been removed from the Government’s agenda as retail supermarket chains – given that they are major employers – have a strong capacity for enforcing their interests. The purpose of the reregulation of retail is to protect the interests of consumers, within the framework of food safety, or the general rules of consumer protection, he detailed.

Mr Lázár said that Hungary, together with the Visegrád countries, has already filed a complaint with the European Commission, and they hope that the body will institute proceedings against the countries which favour Western-European consumers and discriminate against Central-European consumers.

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Government has submitted legislative package related to entry of migrants into Hungary

The Minister reiterated that the Government submitted to Parliament on Tuesday the legislative package related to the entry of illegal migrants into Hungary, and they are expecting a dispute on the matter with civil rights organisations and the European Commission.

He further mentioned a November decision of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council against which both Hungary and the Visegrád countries protest. He said: according to the decision of 18 November, a standard European authorisation system will be set up regarding the entry of third-country nationals, the purpose of which is for the EU to centralise these visa authorisations.

He added: it is Hungary’s sovereign right to decide who may enter the territory of Hungary. This measure detrimentally affects Hungarians beyond the borders who are not dual citizens, or are dual citizens but hold no Hungarian passport, he said.

Mr Lázár also criticised the contemplated measure, also from the viewpoint of the Hungarian community in the Carpathian Basin, which will be presented to the Home Affairs Council at the beginning of March. According to this, EU nationals who enter or exit the Schengen Area would have to be registered, he said, adding: this could significantly slow down border traffic.

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In answer to a question, he said: he believes it is out of the question that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had knowledge of the fact that Saudi businessman Ghaith Pharaon stated in his visa application that he was requesting a visa on account of his meeting with the Prime Minister. He laid down: no politicians or decision-makers provided any assistance regarding the visa application.

In response to a question concerning the Moscow visa issue of agricultural diplomat Szilárd Kiss, he said that the allegedly sold visas were used for entry into other EU Member States, the vast majority of the individuals concerned have not been to Hungary, and have as such not posed any national security risks. Szilárd Kiss’s activities likewise presented no risk as he had no access to classified information, he added.

The Minister said that at the Wednesday meeting of the Government, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog rendered an account of the Verona coach accident and school trips in general. He reiterated that they will launch a consultation with teachers, school principals and parents regarding the rules of the organisation of school trips and the rules governing vehicles transporting students. He remarked: the attendees of the cabinet meeting, too, were divided on the issue of regulation.

He further informed the press that the route of the road that will connect Zalaegerszeg to the M7 motorway has been designated, and at the request of the Zalaegerszeg municipality, the new four-lane road will be built in the direction of Sármellék, rather than following the route of road 76. He added: the law faculty of the Szeged University will receive a grant of HUF 650 million for the extension of its building, while the ambulance service will be given HUF 1.4 billion for the procurement of ambulances.

He said that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán rendered an account of the political situation at the meeting of the parliamentary group of Fidesz-KDNP on Wednesday evening, and „the Members of Parliament were moderately critical”; there were no unpleasant or hard questions.

The Minister was also asked about the planned transformation of the Fót orphanage care centre. In this context, he pointed out that the goal of the Government is to transfer the children in state care to foster parents. The Government’s plans do not affect other tenants or anyone else residing on the premises, and neither the sale, nor the commercial utilisation of the priority listed premises has emerged, he highlighted.

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Mr Lázár was further queried about the planned strike of the workers of the company responsible for the maintenance of public premises in the capital city. He said in reply that the Government has no say in the pay rises of the municipality-owned company. However, if the capital requests help, the Government is ready to step in. Mr Lázár additionally informed the press that the Ministry of Interior is currently preparing a report on small localities which may not be able to pay the increased public servant salaries, and they will be ready to help the municipalities concerned.

The Minister was repeatedly asked about the situation of the Alexandra book store chain which László L. Simon, former State Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, described as a serious cultural policy issue, and on which he called for united efforts. By contrast, Mr Lázár said: the Government looks upon the matter as a market affair, rather than a national one; the Minister for National Economy will not risk the taxpayers’ money.

Regarding the Olympic Games, he said that the Government respects the collection of signatures, and is awaiting the result. He stressed: everyone has the right to initiate referenda and to collect signatures, and this must be respected. Those who commit any kind of verbal or physical atrocity against this are making a big mistake, he said. At the same time, he described the 2024 Olympic bid as a fight between “David and Goliaths”, given that Paris and Los Angeles are also bidding for the right to organise the Games in addition to Budapest. In his view, Budapest is at a major disadvantage, and he is not optimistic regarding the capital’s chances.

In answer to a question, he said that the bill on the establishment of a chamber of psychologists has not yet been presented to the Government as, according to his information, there are government party Members of Parliament who have reservations regarding the proposed legislation, and it is not certain whether the required parliamentary majority could be secured for its passage.