The Hungarian minister of agriculture has announced that public auctions for state-owned land will start in mid-November. Sándor Fazekas told public television that the scheme to sell state-owned plots is another move in the government’s programme to help farmers gain more arable land. The government aims to allow farmers to lease as much stateowned land as possible, as well as to sell those plots to them wherever possible, he said.
The minister criticised the opposition parties for their protests against the scheme, saying that such demonstrations undermined the endeavours of farmers. Fazekas said that the auctions would facilitate acquisition of plots larger than three hectares each, with a 20-year moratorium on their sales. He added that Hungary’s development bank MFB would ensure loans to support the purchases, with a 2.5% interest rate.
The bank would require no copayment from borrowers, with the land purchased serving as collateral, the minister said. Some 50,000 plots, 80% of which are smaller than 10 hectares, will be sold at a starting price of the local price plus 10%, Fazekas said. He insisted that the auctions would be reserved for local Hungarian farmers. Under a national law, one individual can buy a maximum of 300 hectares of land. Fazekas noted that woodland or areas under national protection would not be auctioned off.
Previously parties of the opposition staged a demonstration in central Budapest to protest against government plans to sell out plots of state-owned arable land. Benedek R Sallai, lawmaker of the initiator LMP party, said that selling the state’s assets is “transforming political authority into economic power” and “looting from the whole of society”.
Zoltán Magyar, deputy head of Parliament’s farm committee, delegated by radical nationalist Jobbik, said that all the government’s arguments for the land sales were lies, and urged further protests against ruling Fidesz’s “arrogant land grab”. He called for blocking, even physically, the auctions at which the plots would be sold.
Socialist (MSZP) board member Károly Beke insisted that the government was resorting to “mafia ways” to “crib hundreds of thousands of hectares” and grant the plots to its supporters. Former state secretary József Ángyán said that the government has no authorisation to sell strategic national assets, and called the procedure “dishonest and unconstitutional”. The demonstration was attended by several hundred people.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI