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Budapest assembly approves taxi fare hike

The Budapest municipal assembly on Wednesday approved several measures aimed at helping refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and unanimously voted to increase taxi fares

The municipal assembly voted unanimously to condemn the Russian aggression that started the war and assured Berehove (Beregszasz), Budapest’s twin town, of its support.

The body also voted to include the assistance of refugees among the municipal council’s responsibilities.

The council’s budget decree was also amended to include funding for aiding refugees and Berehove.

The assembly also voted to have the municipal council cooperate with the Vodafone Hungary Foundation and the Terre des Hommes Foundation in Hungary with a view to improving the situation of Ukrainian refugees.

Meanwhile, the assembly voted unanimously to increase the base fare for taxis from 700 to 1,000 forints effective May 9. It also voted to raise the per-kilometre fee from 300 to 400 forints and the waiting fee from 75 to 100 forints.

Deputy mayor Ambrus Kiss said the measure was the product of a compromise reached at talks initiated by cab drivers.

The fare increase was justified by higher vehicle fuel prices, rising inflation and minimum wage increases, he said in the amendment to the regulation.

In an address to the assembly, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony said the outcome of the April 3 general election clearly reflected the will of the voters and created new conditions for cooperation between the municipal council and the government.

He said voters in Budapest and in other parts of the country had expressed different views as to what kind of government they believed the country needed, noting that the opposition had won in 17 of Budapest’s 18 individual constituencies.

Budapest is the nation’s capital, Karacsony said, adding that though the city represented values that “are less popular”, it was not a city-state and did not want to secede from the nation.

At the same time, he said, “Budapest is not a cash cow”. The city cannot be deprived of resources and left to fend for itself, Karacsony said, arguing that taking away the city’s resources would constitute “an attack on the whole of the nation”.

The mayor said that together with the elected MPs they would draft a proposal on ensuring the funding for Budapest needed to keep it functioning. The proposal will also cover issues such as the repeal of the law on the establishment of the Budapest campus of China’s Fudan University, he added.

Karacsony said the municipal council’s budget had been cut by close to 200 billion forints (EUR 528.2m) over the last two and a half years. He said the remaining two and a half years of his term would be “extremely difficult” even if the city council succeeds in establishing a new kind of partnership with the government.

Zsolt Wintermantel, a councillor of ruling Fidesz, said the high turnout in the general election gave his party a clear and strong mandate. He said Karacsony should think about how his performance as mayor had contributed to performance gap between Fidesz and the left in the election. He said Karacsony did not respect Budapest residents and refused to go before the media, and the municipal council did not function in a democratic manner.

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