The building of the NBH in Budapest – Photo: wikimedia

Opposition pledges central bank reform

Politicians of the joint opposition on Thursday pledged to renew fiscal and monetary policy and to reform the National Bank of Hungary (NBH), should the opposition win the general election on April 3.

Agota Janosi-Lesik, a candidate of the Democratic Coalition (DK), said the NBH “has become one of the most shamelessly profiteering institutions over the past 12 years.” She added that the NBH had failed to pay “profits from a weakening forint” into the budget in 2014. Instead, it ploughed 270 billion forints (EUR 750.5m) into foundations immediately before the ruling Fidesz party initiated legislation that made the foundations’ spending confidential information, “as they were no longer considered public funds”, she said.

“The NBH has become an uncontrolled state within a state, spending billions of public funding on luxury and disbursing public monies to friends and relatives as it sees fit,” Janosi-Lesik said.

Should the opposition win the upcoming election, the NBH will return to operating as a “strictly regulated institute of a democratic country, working in the interests of the Hungarian people,” she said.

Zoltan Vajda, a Socialist MP candidate, called for new fiscal and monetary policy “so that Hungary regains the trust of foreign markets, and so inflation will be curbed and the forint strengthened.” One method to achieve that would be to set a date for introducing the euro, he said.

LMP lawmaker Antal Csardi said that the 54 billion forint reconstruction of the central bank building had been undertaken by a company connected to a friend of NBH governor Gyorgy Matolcsy’s family. “Gyorgy Matolcsy’s job should be to fight inflation rather than operating the central bank as a private ATM; we can see no sign of that,” he said.

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