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Dispute over emergency energy measures

July 16th, 2022

A left-wing columnist sees the decision to limit access to subsidized household energy supplies as a necessary adjustment, but finds the way it is implemented unfair. A pro-government commentator believes that the adjustments will strengthen Hungary’s energy security and ensure that most families will still have access to cheap heating gas and electric power.

Népszava’s István Marnitz acknowledges that the government’s decision to limit access to subsidized energy (see BudaPost July 15) is a reasonable adjustment necessitated by skyrocketing energy prices. In the left-wing commentator’s calculation, if unrestricted energy price caps are maintained, the government will have to spend thousands of billions of forints a year to compensates utility providers. Marnitz, however, still finds the government’s decision controversial and unjust. He recalls that even weeks before its introduction, the government blasted opposition parties for daring to suggest that energy price subsidies are unsustainable in their current form. Marnitz also takes it for granted that the government underestimates the number of households impacted, and more then 25 per cent will actually need to shoulder far higher energy costs. He concludes by wondering if this adjustment of energy prices will mark the beginning of the end of Fidesz popularity.

In Magyar Nemzet, Levente Sitkei writes that Hungarian families will still have access to cheap energy. The pro-government commentator claims that the adjustment to the energy price cap policy was necessitated by Europe’s energy crisis, but even after the restrictions, the government will provide cheap energy for those families that need it most. Opposition parties, he maintains, suggested that the energy price caps should be abolished altogether and everyone should pay market prices. This, Marnitz concludes, would have resulted in drastically higher utility costs.

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