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Coronavirus: Opposition Proposal on Taxing Hungary’s ‘Wealthiest Oligarchs’ Rejected by Parl’t Cmte

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.05.14.

The Fidesz majority of Parliament’s Committee on Economics rejected a supertax proposal by opposition MPs aimed at the wealthiest businessmen closely tied to the Orbán ruling party.

The special tax draft was submitted by independent MP Bernadett Szél, Ákos Hadházy, and Szabolcs Szabó, with the concept coming from the opposition mayor of Szeged, László Botka.

The proposal, often called by opposition politicians the ’Mészáros tax,’ is a special tax originally planned to levy those who have made the most money in EU transactions in the last 10 years, which then would go to combatting and alleviating the damages caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

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Lőrinc Mészáros is a close friend of Viktor Orbán, who, over the course of the past 10 years, has become the richest man in Hungary. His rapid rise generated controversy in the country. The opposition pictures him as a “straw-man” and sees him as the prime example of favoritism and corruption; meanwhile, others regard him as a prime member of the so-called ‘national capitalist class.’

According to the proposal, the ‘solidarity contribution’ should be paid by those who received money from the sub-system of the national budget, EU funds, other programs financed under international agreements, and any foundation set up by a 100% state-owned company between 2012 and 2020, and whose income in this period exceeded HUF 5 billion per year.

However, the proposal will not be submitted to Parliament, as the Fidesz majority of the Economic Committee rejected it.

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The chairman of the committee, Erik Bánki of ruling Fidesz, justified the decision prior to the voting, with the reasoning that the proposal would impose a tax retroactively, which is unconstitutional.

In response, Bernadett Szél said that it is not a coincidence that the extent of Mészáros’s wealth is “causing harm to Hungarian people’s sense of justice”, and asked how the government plans to include “Mészáros and other oligarchs” in the financial burden-sharing.

„The rich people who can only thank their incomprehensible amount of wealth to their friendship with the prime minister should be the ones who pay,” Ákos Hadházy commented on the decision on social media. “The assets of Lőrinc M. are worth at least 600 billion forints. If an average Hungarian has a job – because he did not lose it – he would have to work for 200,000 years (!) continuously to earn this much. That is why we have submitted the Mészáros tax draft,” the politician wrote.

Featured photo illustration by Tamás Kovács/MTI