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New data protection bill for public enterprises

May 6th, 2016

Magyar Nemzet warns that a new bill restricting public scrutiny of state-owned companies could backfire, while Magyar Hírlap rejects such criticism as politically motivated.

In Magyar Nemzet, György Pápay accuses the government of intending to erect a wall of silence around the finances of state-owned companies, as a new bill is introduced in a package accompanying the 2017 draft budget. The bill would protect the data of state-owned enterprises in case publicity would harm their competitiveness. A similar provision was approved by the Constitutional Court earlier this year in connection with the National Postal Service, but another, concerning the National Bank, was struck down (see BudaPost March 11th, 2016), on the grounds that the issuing bank has no competitors and is not engaged in for-profit market activities. The analyst predicts that extending the restrictions from the postal services to all state-owned companies may cause a backlash. The scandal that engulfed the National Bank (MNB) followed widespread allegations that it had mismanaged its funds, he reminds his readers.

In Magyar Hírlap, Imre Boros argues that the spate of attacks on the MNB are in fact directed against the radically new course the Bank has embarked  upon under György Matolcsy’s presidency – a policy which has stopped the outflow of money abroad, the author claims. Mr Boros, was a leading currency trader in the National Bank during the 70s, explains how radically reducing the base rate (to 1.05 per cent in April 2016 from 6.75 per cent in August 2012) has diminished the incomes of certain foreign investors and converted MNB losses into a huge surplus that now enriches the state and may be used to reduce the tax burden of private companies and improve the financial prospects of families. That is what is very painful for the critics and their foreign backers, the author argues.

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