The Budapest Assembly on Wednesday adopted the municipality’s 2020 budget.
Revenue is set at just over 284 billion forints (EUR 839m) while spending is a little above 408 billion. The deficit of just below 125 billion forints will be financed through a mix of credit agreements, domestic bonds and revenue from bank deposits.
The budget passed with 18 votes in favour, 14 against and 1 abstention.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said the budget was founded on the platform of a “green and free Budapest”. The budget focuses on the Budapest resident, the mayor said, adding that it was the budget of a prospering, social, green and climate-conscious city.
Karácsony, however, added that the new budget was “burdened by the legacy of the past”, arguing that each year the government was tightening its grip on the capital’s finances.
He said the budget would create the conditions for the Katona József, Örkény and Radnóti Theatres, the Trafó House of Contemporary Arts and Margaret Island’s Open-air Theatre to be fully locally funded. Karácsony said independent theatre crews should also have the opportunity to produce art freely.
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Concerning an ultimatum by the government that it would suspend talks with the metropolitan council if the Budapest assembly decided to appoint Nóra Benkő as CEO of the Open Air Theatre over Teodóra Bán, Karácsony slammed the demand as “hypocritical and demeaning”.
“There’s no place for any ultimatums or blackmail when the capital’s diverse cultural life is at stake,” the mayor said. “We await government’s return to the negotiating table so that we can continue the talks on the operations of theatres that are unable to fund themselves and independent theatre crews.”
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Meanwhile, he said the renovation of the capital’s landmark Chain Bridge could begin before the end of the year. As part of the renovation of the third metro line, the line’s underpasses will be made wheelchair-accessible.
The budget also creates the conditions for jobseekers to travel free of charge on public transport. Starting in the autumn, the poorest 20,000 families will receive a 20,000 forint (EUR 59) utility subsidy.
Featured photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI