Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony – Photo: Facebook

Fidesz councillor calls on Budapest mayor to resign

Peter Kovacs, a representative of Hungary's ruling Fidesz in the Budapest Assembly, on Wednesday called on Gergely Karacsony, the city's mayor, to resign over what he said were financial irregularities in connection with the reconstruction of capital's iconic Chain Bridge.

Kovacs, who is also the mayor of Budapest’s 16th district, said it was increasingly clear that “the reconstruction exceeded the budget by 5 billion forints [EUR 12.8m] and the contents of works completed reduced because money was being siphoned off.”

“It is time for you to resign from leading the city while you can do so with your head held high. You should show similar decency to that shown by the [former head of state],” he said, referring to the resignation of Katalin Novak.

According to media reports, at least 1.5 billion forints had been “funneled through a lawyer called Vig… then turned into campaign funds”, Kovacs said.

Kovacs said Karacsony’s support was failing, and even leftist parties were calling for an inquiry into the matter.

“Karacsony is finished”, Kovacs said, insisting that Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsany was already “working on plan B”.

Responding to Kovacs, Karacsony said the costs of the reconstruction had come to 8 billion forints less than planned. He noted that the works done on the bridge had indeed been changed in the course of the project’s two public procurement processes.

He said he did not know the “questionable businessman” mentioned, and the municipality had had no contract with him.

He said the websites “writing falsehoods” on the issue “are getting the timeline wrong”, as most contracts and money transfers between the businessman in question and A-Híd, the company tasked with the reconstruction, had been done before the municipality’s business dealings started with the latter.

Noting that the local elections were a mere 100 days away, Karacsony said Kovacs’s proposal should be put in voters’ hands. “They will respond to Fidesz’s platform that lacks a true political message and looks down on Budapest residents and constantly tries to bleed the city dry… They will also respond to the politics we conducted, perhaps imperfectly but with a pure heart and good will.”

Budapest Assembly approves changes to Budapest public transport system

The Budapest Assembly approved a cooperation agreement regulating a revamped public transport system in the city and its satellite localities on Wednesday. The new cooperation agreement between the municipality, Minister of Construction and Transport Janos Lazar, Budapest transport centre BKK, national bus service provider Volanbusz and railway company MAV-Start is set to come into force on March 1 and will expire in 2036.

Under the agreement, the signatory companies accept and distribute each other’s tickets. The agreement also regulates the distribution of the revenues generated and other issues arising from synchronising services, such as setting up timetables, price policy and others.

According to a previous agreement between Mayor Gergely Karacsony and Lazar, Budapest season tickets will be valid on all services operated by state-owned companies within the city boundaries, and the county and country passes will be valid on Budapest public transport.

Budapest Assembly adopts strategy on preventing domestic violence and protecting witnesses

The Budapest Assembly on Wednesday voted unanimously to adopt a strategy on preventing domestic violence and protecting the victims of violence.

The strategy proposed by deputy mayors Anett Bosz and Ambrus Kiss aims to prevent and curb domestic violence and to protect the victims of violence of any kind. It also takes a stand against discrimination against women and aims to promote equality between men and women by strengthening the position of women in society, the assembly said.

The strategy will lay the ground for policy measures in the municipality.

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