EUR 30 relegation zone

Tickets for 2020 UEFA European Football Championship matches in Budapest will cost EUR 125 for central positions, EUR 75 for mainly in the corners and EUR 30 for behind the goals. EURO 2020 will be held from June 12 to July 12 in Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and Saint Petersburg. Budapest will host Group F matches on June 16, 20 and 24. It will host a Round of 16 match on June 28. All matches will be in the 67,000-seat Puskas Ferenc Stadium, where construction is finishing. UEFA chairman Aleksander Ceferin said on a recent visit that the venue is "quite impressive... It's new, it's modern, it has some tradition." Some 2.5 million tickets are expected to be sold for EURO 2020.


# Truck crashes through guard rail of M3 overpass (photos: MTI)

GDP forecast raised

Economic research institute GKI has raised its projection for 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 4.0 percent on the strong first-quarter GDP growth data (5.3 percent) from 3.5 percent in a forecast in March. The projection is level with the government's latest forecast 4.0 percent growth. GKI expects European Union transfers to continue to grow this year and puts investment growth at around 13 percent, up from its previous forecast of around 7 percent. Last year, investment volume in Hungary was up 17 percent.

Wages climb 10.2 pc

The average gross wage for full-time workers in Hungary rose 10.2 percent year-on-year to 367,200 forints in March, the Central Statistical Office has said. Net wages grew at the same pace, reaching 244,200 forints. Wage growth has been in the double digits for a little more than two years, since the government, employers and unions agreed on a series of minimum increases paired with payroll tax cuts. Calculating with a 12-month consumer price index of 3.7 percent in March, real wages were up 6.3 percent. Excluding the 96,500 Hungarians in fostered work programmes, the average gross wage rose 9.1 percent to 377,100 forints, while net wages grew at the same rate to 250,800 forints.

Jacksons, Astley at Picnic

The Jacksons, Rick Astley, the Brand New Heavies and Maceo Parker will be among the highlights of this year's Jazz Picnic at Paloznak near Lake Balaton from August 1 to 3. Celebrating their 55th anniversary, The Jacksons formed by Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon of the famed The Jackson 5 brothers will perform on the first day. They will pay tribute to their brother Michael Jackson who died ten years ago. Hungarian pop-funk-jazz band Peet Project will play on the same day and London's acid jazz and funk group Brand New Heavies the next day. The line-up on the closing day includes British singer and songwriter Rick Astley and American funk and soul jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker. The event will also feature other Hungarian jazz players, children's programmes, and local wine and cuisine.

# Common Eland born in Debrecen Zoo (photo: MTI)

Homes in oversupply

The real estate market has seen a flood of properties coming on to the market, presaging a slowdown in the solid price growth of the past few years, Magyar Hirlap has said, citing property portal In the first five months of 2019, supply outstripped demand. More than 250,000 residential properties were advertised for sale by private individuals and real estate agents in January-May compared with 180,000-242,000 homes in the same periods of 2014-2018, when demand exceeded supply. In Budapest, private individuals advertised almost 16,000 residential properties in the same period, 10 percent more than a year earlier. Together with properties advertised by agents, more than 130,000 properties were put on the market at the start of the year, up 40 percent over 2014. In cities with county rights, supply expanded 16 percent in the period to over 55,000 properties, with 43,000 units sold, while in the other cities there was an 8 percent rise in supply. László Balogh, an economist, said greater supply was not yet lowering prices, which were likely to moderate but no reversal was expected for the moment.

# Restored statue of former prime minister Imre Nagy unveiled (photo: MTI)

Failed smuggler jailed

An appeals court in Szeged has sentenced a British citizen to eight years in prison for attempted drug smuggling. The man, of Iraqi origin, was convicted of trying to smuggle seven kilogrammes of opiates to the United Kingdom via Hungary. Under the binding ruling, he will be expelled from Hungary for eight years upon release. The man was returning to the UK from Iraq when his car was checked by excise officers at the Röszke border in April 2017. The inspector noticed that the spare tyre had been tampered with. It held seven packets of morphine and codeine-based opiates. The authorities put the street value at around 20 million forints. The man told the court the drugs had been stashed by a friend to whom he had lent his car. He said he had not been cautious enough to check if someone had hidden drugs in his car.

Trial for e-ticketing

An e-ticketing trial for Budapest public transport is being launched this June and the system will be later expanded to all Hungary, the state secretary in charge of national financial services and public utilities, Edit Juhász, has said. Cash-free ticket and transport pass purchases and e-ticketing will be among the most important elements of modern public transport, which the National Mobile Payment company is supporting, she said.

# Rock climbing and highline festival in the Gerecse Mountains (photo: MTI)

Marathons running hot

The number of tourists visiting Hungary to participate in running events such as marathons has more than tripled in the past decade, daily Világgazdaság has said, citing the government commissioner for an active Hungary and the Budapest Sport Office. Nearly 25,000 foreigners ran in three large Budapest events last year – the Telekom Vivicitta City Protection Run, the Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon and the SPAR Budapest Marathon – as against 8000 in 2007, the paper said. The number of guest nights and the money spent by visiting runners has also increased significantly, the paper added. The former exceeded 80,000 in 2018 versus 21,000 in 2007, and the latter totalled 4 billion forints last year against 600 million in 2007. Budapest Sport Office managing director Arpad Kocsis said Hungary is competing with the Czech Republic for first place in the region when it comes to running tourism. Last year, runners came to Hungary from 90 countries, the most from the UK then France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and the US. Kocsis said the number of foreign runners is expected to rise 5-10 percent this year.

Vodafone installs 5G node

The local unit of UK-based telco Vodafone has installed its first 5G relay node in Budapest on its HQ in District IX. Amanda Nelson, CEO-president of Vodafone Hungary, said it is their second relay node in the country, after one at Zalaegerszeg. Gergő J. Budai, Vodafone Hungary's vice-CEO, said the group has started testing 5G technology in several places on its European network in the last months. The Hungarian unit aims to launch its commercial 5G service this year.

Please prosecute

Opposition parties have collected 680,000 signatures desiring Hungary join the European Public Prosecutor's Office, independent MP Ákos Hadházy, who initiated the campaign, has said. Hadházy said European taxpayers have a right to know what governments are doing with their money. He said the ruling Fidesz party had assumed power in 2010 solely to "steal EU monies... They've stolen so much and in such a transparent way that now they have to steal in order to stay in power." Hadházy thanked the 26,000 people who gathered the signatures, with 130,000 gathered by the Socialist Party and the Momentum Movement. The effort was funded by donations worth 10 million forints. The MP said the opposition had "clearly lost the European Parliament election... Democracy and truth lost out to the government's propaganda machine." The opposition could only be successful in the autumn municipal elections if the parties cooperated properly.

# Pope Francis holds holy mass to thousands of Hungarians in the romanian region of Transylvania (photo: MTI)

Tax officials accused

Three officials of the national tax authority (NAV) have been charged with abuse of power and other crimes. The national bureau of investigations is questioning several NAV employees as suspects, news channel M1 has said. News portal said one of the men arrested is a former NAV department head, and the Budapest prosecutor's office is also investigating.

Prize to physicist

President János Áder has recognised world-renowned Hungarian-American physicist Albert-László Barabási with the Bolyai Prize at a ceremony in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Barabási is best known for his work in the research of network theory, which led to his discovery of the concept of scale-free networks. The Bolyai Prize has been the most prestigious scientific award founded by private individuals in Hungary since 1989. It is awarded bi-annually and includes a EUR 100,000 prize.

# Tornado in Hajdú-Bihar county (photo: MTI)

Fat facing knife

About 250,000 people living in Hungary are morbidly obese and can only be treated with surgery, Magyar Hirlap has said. More than two-thirds of Hungarians are overweight or obese, the daily noted. The rate of overweight and obese adults had been stable for eight years but the number of morbidly obese was rising. About 500 gastric bypass surgeries are performed in Hungary each year.

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