Every pensioner will receive household utility vouchers worth HUF 9,000 by 30 September.

Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said in justification that the Hungarian economy is out-performing all expectations, and this is something that elderly age groups should also benefit from. “It is very important to express our appreciation and respect for them,” he said.

DownloadFotó: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

The three household utility vouchers, each to the value of three thousand forints, can be used up to 31 March for the payment of gas and electricity bills; they will first be delivered in Budapest, and later in the countryside, the Minister said, further indicating that also this year the government will pay a pension premium as well as a pension supplement.

In answer to a question, he added that delivery and printing costs will amount to some HUF 2.5 billion as expected.

He promised that in the coming days the government will provide detailed information about the form in which pensioners will receive the vouchers.

Regarding timing, he said in the years before pensioners always received Erzsébet Vouchers, and with the phasing out of these, they will receive household utility vouchers instead.

Mr Gulyás said public works scheme employees who worked as public works employees for minimum three months during the period between 1 January and 31 July 2019, provided that their employment in that capacity still exists on 1 August, will receive a one-time extra net remuneration of HUF 54,000.

This measure will concern ninety-nine thousand people who will receive a benefit that is almost equal to their monthly pay, he said.

Justifying this decision, the politician mentioned, on the one hand, the country’s economic performance, and on the other, the fall in the number of public works scheme employees as, in consequence of the latter, the one-time benefit can be paid from the allocation made for the wages of publicworks employees.

DownloadFotó: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

In answer to questions concerning foreign policy issues, he said Hungary has a general foreign policy objective which lies in fostering good relations with the world’s leading powers, and this year, too, stands as proof of the fact that they are succeeding in achieving that goal.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán already had talks with US President Donald Trump earlier this year, on Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to Hungary, it is to be hoped that there will be a direct meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the end of this year, too, and Hungary maintains good relations with China as well, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office explained.

Regarding the German Chancellor’s Monday visit to Sopron, Mr Gulyás was happy to acknowledge that Angela Merkel made it clear that the Visegrád cooperation is a value and asset for the whole of Europe, while she spoke in words of praise about the utilisation of EU funds in Hungary which is, in the Minister’s view, extremely important before the adoption of the new seven-year EU budget.

He added that Germany would like to see the budget adopted before the German Presidency due to start in the second half of next year.

The head of the Prime Minister’s Office said the government supports László Trócsányi for the position of EU commissioner, but “we are now used to” the situation that whenever the Hungarian government parties nominate candidates they are customarily attacked in the European Parliament.

At the same time, one cannot forget, he observed, that László Trócsányi led a list in the EP elections which obtained 53 per cent of the votes.

He further highlighted that some people have the impression that issues related to the rule of law are not so important for the countries of Central Europe. However, these countries are, in actual fact, not against procedures that seek to evaluate Member States; they are against multiple definitions being attached to the rule of law as, in consequence, what is acceptable in one country is not in another.

The Minister said in answer to a question about the hiring freeze in public administration that no such decision has taken effect in territorial public administration. The government has only made a decision with respect to central public administration which lays down that if a job remains unfilled for six months, it becomes a central job and can only be filled with governmental consent.

In answer to a question regarding a ban on single-use plastics, he said the government intends to support selective waste collection, but if the EU introduces mandatory rules requiring legal harmonisation, the cabinet will fully observe them.

He said in response to a question about the baby expecting loan that, on the whole, banks appear to be open. If, however, there are disputes, it is important that the banking authority should take immediate and effective action.

Should the need arise for the amendment of the relevant regulations, the government is open to that option, he added.

DownloadFotó: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

Regarding the fact that, with the withdrawal of Ádám Sermer’s candidacy the Liberals, too, now support Gergely Karácsony’s candidacy for the position of Mayor of Budapest, Mr Gulyás remarked that with this, drug liberalisation has also become Gergely Karácsony’s programme. “Drug liberalisation is the basis of that alliance,” he said, adding that if today the parties nominating Gergely Karácsony were in power, the current stringent protection against drugs under penal law would be removed.

In response to reports that Momentum politician Gábor Kerpel-Fronius was summoned to the police due to the abuse of the freedom of assembly, the Minister said he is not aware of the specific details of the case, but in his view, as a rule of thumb, a press conference can be held on public premises without the prior notification of the police.

He stressed in answer to a question regarding the air-conditioning of operating theatres that today in Hungary the situation cannot arise that operating theatres without air-conditioning are used in the summer.