- 8 Apr 2016 9:00 AM
“There has not been a national referendum held on an issue of such significance in Hungary since 1990.” The right of Hungarians to decide whom to allow to enter the country cannot be given up, he said, adding that the EC’s proposals which are “full of contradictions” will be discussed by the government next Monday.
Speaking about the government’s recent anti-terrorism action plan, Lázár said it is aimed at strengthening the Hungarian police force based on lessons learned from last month’s terrorist bombings in Brussels.
A country must have an effective and well-prepared force ready to act in such instances, he said. Meanwhile, Lázár said he held talks with the EU’s commissioner for regional policy in Budapest earlier in the day and agreed with Corina Cretu on settling the dispute between the Hungarian government and the European Commission over road construction tenders outside of court.
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. These road construction firms have been “exposed” for alleged involvement in cartel activity, said Lázár, adding that the government would “make an adjustment in a way that there are no net losses for Hungary.”
An agreement, if reached directly with Brussels, could free up 500 billion forints (EUR 1.6bn) in central funds, Lázár said, noting that the payment of EU funds for all road construction projects in Hungary has stalled. Lázár also said that the cabinet will discuss the main figures of Hungary’s 2017 draft budget.
He reaffirmed that the country’s 2016 budget could be amended to reflect higher revenues, which he said showed the country’s economy was performing better than planned. In other developments, Lázár announced that he has proposed setting up a single body of civil servants.
In the first phase, civil servants employed in county administrative offices will be integrated, to be followed by employees of government agencies from January next year. From January 2018, ministry staff will join them. Lázár confirmed that from July 1 the responsibilities and tasks of 20,000 county administrative officers—mainly frontline staff—would be redesigned and their wages hiked by 30-50%.
On the topic of the law on Sunday shopping restrictions, Lázár said the governing Fidesz party acknowledges the decision by the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, approving a referendum question submitted by the opposition Socialist Party on scrapping the law.
“Socialists, go for it!” he said, insisting, at the same time, that the leftist parties were now campaigning to have tens of thousands of people working on Sundays, which he said was not a traditional leftist position. “It’s a good thing that a public debate is taking place,” he said.
Since the legislation came into force last spring, retail sale volumes and the number of the sector’s employees have continued to increase, he noted.
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