- 19 Oct 2016 9:00 AM
Lázár also said that he will travel to Brussels on Wednesday for a series of talks with EU officials. He said his talks would touch on, among others, the settlement of a dispute between the Hungarian government and the European Commission over road construction tenders.
The case involves the sanctioning of Hungary by Brussels for the practice of requiring bidders in road construction tenders to have asphalt units in close proximity to projects. Lázár said that if a settlement is reached, Hungary could “get away with” a fine of 45 billion to 50 billion forints (EUR 146.7m-162.9m) instead of the 120-150 billion forint fine that was previously expected. He said another point of dispute between Hungary and the EU was that the EU says Hungary wants to draw down EU funds too quickly.
But Lázár said this was necessary for the restructuring of the Hungarian economy. Lázár said the government had tasked KPMG with compiling a report on Hungary’s spending of EU funds in the 2007-14 budgetary period. Answering a question, the government office chief said it was “in no way certain” that after 2020 Hungary would have access to the same amount of EU funds as it does now.
He said all economic players had to be ready for potential changes in the funding scheme and spend the money available in the current cycle wisely. He said if this did not help improve Hungary’s competitiveness, “then I don’t know what will”.
Sooner or later the Hungarian economy “will have to stand on its own two feet”, the government office chief added.
“The world in which incomes are supplemented with EU funds... is coming to an end,” he said. Asked about possible upcoming staff cuts in the public sector, Lázár confirmed that layoffs would be necessary due to a restructuring of government institutions.
He said Hungary had the largest relative share of public sector workers in the EU. With the labour shortage challenges facing the country, public sector workers can now easily be “transferred” to the private sector, he said. Lázár said the staff cuts would not concern healthcare workers or teachers.
Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.