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Former Mayor Defends Controversial Property Deals In Budapest’s 5th District

Tamás Székely 2015.01.20.

Without revenue from the sales of retail units in central Budapest’s 5th district, the area would not have become comparable on a European scale, Antal Rogán, parliamentary group leader of the ruling Fidesz party, said. The former 5th district mayor, who is under fire from the opposition for conducting allegedly shady property deals, told journalists at the site of a building on St. Stephen Square belonging to the local council that it had been in a bad condition and empty for years and had failed to attract a new leaseholder or owner.

Referring to the sale of various properties, he said the fact that ownership of the leasehold had been handed over by the district to the tenants had given the opportunity for the local council to reconstruct several properties in a bad state of repair in central city streets and squares, while the leaseholders had put substantial investments into renovating the extremely degraded retail units, restaurants. In this way, a “truly prestigious district” had been created, he added. Had the tenants not been given ownership of the leasehold, the renovations would not have taken place, Rogán said. In connection with the value and price of the properties in question, Rogán said: “We did not sell palaces but deeply degraded properties.” Rogán added that the relevant law and the civil code clearly regulate the rights of tenants, including the discounts available to them. The local council cannot deny such advantages to a single tenant, he added.

In a recent interview to Magyar Hírlap daily, Antal Rogán also spoke about domestic issues, including Hungary’s financial prospects. The group leader of the ruling Fidesz party said that the Hungarian economy would be in a fit state for adoption of the single currency between 2018 and 2020. He told journalists later that 2020 was the more likely date, and he emphasised his personal opinion was that Hungary should not introduce the euro because it would do badly as a result. “Countries in Central Europe which have the euro as their currency are not doing too obviously well,” he said, mentioning Slovenia, whose economy is in the doldrums, and Slovakia, which has had to grapple with high price rises due to the currency’s introduction.

Antal Rogán noted that it would be necessary to change Hungary’s constitution in order to adopt the single currency. He added that when it comes to crossing the bridge, this could be achieved either through a parliamentary vote or via a popular one. Until that point, the most important is for Hungary to maintain a low budget deficit and high growth, he said.  Although Hungary is likely to have fulfilled the preconditions for adopting the euro by 2020 but it would only be worth contemplating replacing the forint only ifit appeared that the country would benefit from such a move, Rogán insisted.

via photo: Zoltán Máthé – MTI