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Land lease program rigging claims refuted

September 28th, 2012

A pro-government pundit defends a public land lease programme against potentially damaging allegations of tender-rigging.

Last year, the Ministry of Rural Development leased a total of 1800 hectares of arable land to local farmers, in what later became an extremely controversial series of decisions. State Secretary and Fidesz MP József Ángyán resigned earlier this year in protest against what he called the authorities’ bias in favour of big landowners and influential local personalities, as well as friends of politicians, including the Prime Minister himself.

In the first detailed rebuttal of Mr Ángyán’s charges, Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer accuses the former State Secretary of “serving, whether knowingly or not, very bad interests and very-very bad ideas”. First of all he blames him for printing his allegations in the pages of Népszabadság, the number one left-wing daily. He goes on to deny Ángyán’s allegation on three points.

1. Ángyán was wrong to claim that “outsiders” often got the lease at the expense of local farmers, as by “local farmers” the tender meant those living within a 20 km radius.

2. Ángyán’s claim that the 1200 hectare upper limit was transgressed in certain cases is unfounded. In the case of an entrepreneur at Felcsút, the Prime Minister’s birthplace, Mr Ángyán simply adds together the lands leased by Lőrincz Mészáros and his sister “Because he is an acquaintance of Viktor Orbán’s! OMG!,” Bayer exclaims.

3. Mr Ángyán only analysed about a quarter of all land lease contracts.

All in all, Bayer writes, 1008 farmers became tenants of 18 thousand hectares of public land. Under the Socialist governments, he continues, 400 thousand hectares were allotted to two hundred enterprises. “So much for the ridiculous claim that many have got little and a few have got a lot,” the pro-government commentator concludes.

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