PM confirms talks with RTL Group on ad tax

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán confirmed that the government has been talking with German RTL Group about lowering the advertising tax, but said nothing has been decided and he insists on a revenue of HUF 7-10 bln from the tax, hvg.hu said yesterday. RTL reportedly agreed its Hungarian TV station would stop criticizing the government in exchange for the tax cut.

PM: ‘A lady is coming to Hungary’

In response to questions about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told state-owned Kossuth radio this morning that “a lady is coming to Hungary [on February 2] therefore we are not insisting on any topics” in an attempt to circumvent the radio's query on topics to be discussed, index.hu reported today.

Fidesz approves of its politician sentenced for embezzlement

Pécs’s Fidesz-dominated general meeting approved of Ibolya Fodor’s mandate in a closed session after the MSZP party asked for a vote in her case, online news portal hvg.hu reported yesterday. 

Ministry: State could oversee elevator maintenance

Not long after Hungarian daily Népszabadság reported that thousands of elevators would either be replaced or refurbished by 2020, the National Economy Ministry suggested that the state take over tasks related to the annual review and maintenance of elevators, state secretary Béla Glattfelder told commercial television channels RTL Klub and TV2 yesterday.

RTL Group confirms it's in talks with Hungarian government

German broadcaster RTL Group confirmed it has been meeting with officials of the Hungarian government in order to discuss the advertisement tax approved in June, daily nol.hu reported yesterday. The tax puts Hungarian RTL Klub into the highest tax bracket by itself and is apparently in retaliation to anti-government coverage.

Healthcare reforms to begin in April

Structural healthcare reforms are imminent, online daily index.hu reported yesterday. The HUF 60-70 bln consolidation program is aimed at eliminating hospital debt. Under the new rules, hospitals will not be allowed to have an operating loss and will be required to pay their debts.

Bencsik: Burden sharing measures not always fair

According to Fidesz MP János Bencsik, “The government has, no doubt, taken measures to regulate capital dominated monopolies in the past five years, but some of the measures regarding burden sharing failed to comply with the principles of fairness, due to a lack of professional planning.” 

Anti-government demo organizers could expect more NAV investigations

So far nothing irregular has been found by NAV regarding the anti-government demonstration organizers, István Tényi wrote Hungarian news portal Origo.

Büki: Road blockade will take place

Zoltán Büki, the former MP of Együtt-PM, said the road blockade he is currently organizing will be held on March 1 from 5 pm, despite the “fine-tuning” the Hungarian government made in January to legislation of the new road toll system approved by parliament in December, Büki told Hungarian commercial station ATV last week. 

OLAF probes Budapest development project

The European Union's anti-fraud office, OLAF, has been screening public procurement deals connected to a refurbishment project that took place in central Budapest, in an investigation of alleged fraud and irregularities, the organization told MTI today.

Juncker pulls Orbán off the stage

European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker grabbed the hand of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following their handshake in front of the journalists’ cameras yesterday in Brussels and pulled the Hungarian prime minister off the stage.

Szijjártó expects 'new chapter' in Hungary-U.S. relations

With the arrival of Colleen Bell, the new U.S. ambassador to Hungary, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó is expecting to open a “new chapter” in the political cooperation between the two countries, Szijjártó said on public television this morning.

U.S. Embassy posts video welcome from Colleen Bell

The U.S. Embassy in Budapest has posted a video with the new U.S. Ambassador Colleen Bell introducing herself to Hungarians. Click here to view the one-and-a-half-minute video.

Official: Goodfriend keeps immunity, Vida case closed

The United States will not withdraw the diplomatic immunity of U.S. Chargé D'affaires André Goodfriend, Levente Magyar, state secretary of the foreign ministry, told journalists today. As a result, tax office chief Ildikó Vida's lawsuilt against Goodfriend will not take place, Magyar said.

Varga: Demján's estimates baseless

Estimations made by Sándor Demján, head of business association VOSZ, suggesting that Sunday shop closures would cause a HUF 200-HUF 250 bln shortfall in budget revenue are baseless, Hungarian Economy Minister Mihály Varga said today on state-owned television channel M1.

Putin to meet Orbán on February 17

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will pay a “working visit” to Hungary on February 17 to discuss bilateral political and economic relations, energy security issues and the Ukrainian armed conflict, among other topics, with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said this morning on a public radio program.

Hungary to send FX law translations to Croatia

The Hungarian government is planning to send the English-language translations of the recently approved laws for phasing out FX loans to the Croatian cabinet in Zagreb, following Croatia's and Poland's query on the matter, András Tallai, a Hungarian economy ministry official, told Croatia's Nova TV today.

U.S. ambassador arrives to Hungary

The U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Colleen Bell, arrived in Budapest yesterday afternoon with her husband Bradley and their family. The new ambassador was received by Levente Magyar, state secretary of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, on behalf of the Hungarian government.

Orbán, Speaker of Swedish parliament discuss investment plans

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Speaker of Sweden's Riksdag Urban Ahlin discussed plans by large Swedish companies to carry out new investment projects in Hungary in the near future, which will create several hundred new jobs, the prime minister's press chief Bertalan Havasi said today.

Orbán: FX issues to be settled between banks and debtors

Foreign currency denominated loan issues should be handled between lenders and borrowers, while the Hungarian government could act as a mediator in the process, but cannot pass judgment, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public station Kossuth Rádio this past weekend.

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