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Opposition demands protection for Hungarians after government scrapping fuel price caps

Opposition parties on Wednesday called on the government to provide protection for citizens after scrapping the price caps on fuels late on Tuesday. Lawmakers of opposition Jobbik submitted a proposal to lower taxes on fuel. Deputy party leader Robert Dudas called for the government to start talks with the European Commission on reducing the VAT and excise tax on fuel prices. The government should at the same time stop counting on "extra profits" from taxing high fuel prices, he told an online press conference.

He called for restoring fuel supply at the 500-600 small pumps in the countryside first, arguing that “the everyday life of locals depend on the operation of these pumps that are facing closure”.

Green opposition LMP said that scrapping the price caps is only “a partial remedy” to problems emerging in the transport sector. “The sudden increase in fuel prices will put a burden on many families,” Erzsebet Schmuck, the co-leader of the party, told a press conference. LMP urges “a green reform”, calling on the government to support renewable energy while phasing out fossil fuels, she said.

Bence Tordai, the deputy group leader of Parbeszed, told a press conference that by scrapping the fuel price cap, “the government is starting to admit that they are incompetent as well as sticky-handed.” He called for the support of community transport and people rather than fossil fuels. He proposed introducing a utility voucher to compensate families for the price increases and introducing a four-day work week in a bid to reduce energy consumption.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) slammed the decision as “another government austerity measure”. Laszlo Varju, the party’s deputy leader, said fuel would now cost “twice to two-and-a-half times as much” as it had under the Socialist government of Ferenc Gyurcsany, DK’s leader, between 2004 and 2009. “At least that’s what it’ll cost when there’s fuel again,” Varju said, arguing that Hungary was currently the only European country “where it’s impossible to refuel”. He accused the government of “lying”, saying there was no oil sanction in effect that applied to Hungary.

Ruling Fidesz said the leftist opposition “continues to support the sanctions”. In a statement, they insisted that the leftist parties “in return for dollars rolling in try to prove that the sanctions are working, while the fuel price caps had to be scrapped because of those very sanctions.”

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