Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony has presented an alternative plan on the use of the European Union’s pandemic recovery fund, developed by the Association of Hungarian Municipalities (MÖSZ).
The Hungarian government submitted its plan on the use of the fund at the end of April, pledging to use the funding to cover a “new health-care system”, and to raise the quality of health-care nationwide. Also as part of the government plan, projects funded with a view to reducing carbon emissions will include upgrading track-based transport, strengthening higher education and transitioning to a circular economy.
Karácsony, a co-leader of MÖSZ and the Párbeszéd party, said Hungary was “botching a historic chance” by failing to put to good use the 6,000 billion forint (EUR 16.7bn) fund, allocated to the country within the framework of the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). Karácsony said the authors of the alternative plan disagreed with the government’s decision to only tap 2,500 billion forints available in non-refundable support while snubbing the 3,500 billion forint credit line “available with much better conditions than the Russian or Chinese loans taken out by the government”. MOSZ’s plan would “deliver those monies to the people with the help of local councils, rather than pouring it into concrete and building a circle of oligarchs,” he said. The municipalities would spend 2,705 billion forints, 45% of the funding, on boosting social solidarity, 2,070 billion on the fight against climate change, 725 billion on digitalisation and 500 billion on bolstering the economy, Karácsony said. Housing developments would get over 1,000 billion forints, while 695 billion would be allocated to eliminating child poverty and 135 billion on expanding the job-seekers’ allowance, he said. The plan also calls for building two new hospital centres from 300 billion forints and improve health-care infrastructure using 100 billion. Some 290 billion forints would go towards promoting equal opportunities in kindergartens and schools, he added.
The alternative plan aims to use EU funds wisely to shape a fairer country that’s “committed to the future”, he said. The plan is going to be “published to generate public debate”, and its authors are open to discussion with the government, he said.