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PM Orbán wants non-profit utility providers

August 25th, 2012

A liberal conservative commentator criticizes PM Orbán’s plan to transform public utilities into non-profit businesses. According to Véleményvezér, the Premier wants to boost his support by opening up a new controversy with the EU.

The Prime Minister told the annual meeting of Hungary’s ambassadors that his government aims to overcome the economic crisis without increasing public debt. He suggested that surplus taxes levied on the telecom sector, energy providers and international retail chains would not be abolished in the next twenty years, since Hungarian families cannot be expected to bear further burdens. Mr Orbán ruled out the possibility of pension cuts, which, it is rumoured, the IMF may require during negotiations with Hungary on a credit line agreement. Orbán also disclosed plans to gradually transform public utilities into a non-profit sector. The PM added that he expected another “big debate” with the EU over the issue.

Véleményvezér contends that the proposal amounts to the effective nationalization of public utilities. The liberal conservative blogger argues that no investors would be interested in running a non-profit business. In response, he believes, they would immediately cancel infrastructure development. The end result will be that companies will have to be taken over by the state in order to guarantee energy and water supplies. But as the state lacks the resources to invest in energy infrastructure, the whole plan is unrealistic, Véleményvezér suggests.

Pondering why the PM brought up the issue, Véleményvezér muses that if the aim is to reduce household energy costs, the government could easily reduce tariffs within the existing legal framework. Véleményvezér’s guess is that by bringing up the issue, Orbán wants to create further tension between Hungary and the EU, so that he can carry on his freedom fight rhetoric, which, the increasingly critical blogger thinks, “is the only thing he can sell to his supporters”.

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