Orbán: State Buying Costly Mátra Power Plant Saves Thousands of Jobs
Ábrahám Vass 2020.01.10.
In order to avoid the discharge of about ten thousand workers, the government won’t close off the Mátra Power Plant, which has made headlines recently due to gas leaking and pollution in its nearby area, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced.
At his annual year-opening press briefing, Orbán claimed that due to the very high climate fines the EU had introduced, and the huge (around USD 1 billion) transformation (making it more environmental friendly) costs, the owner [Lőrinc Mészáros’ Opus Global) made his intention clear to shut it down, but then offered it to the government for purchase.
Orbán said it was a tough decision for the government not to close the plant, arguing that if something fails to generate profit, it’s not worth maintaining. However, having learned that the power plant and the nearby industrial zone (that uses the electricity produced by the plant), employs about 10,000 people and that a closure would be fatal for the area, they decided not to close it despite the very high refurbisment and transformation costs. The PM emphasized that with the purchase, the government can save these thousands of jobs, arguing that in the very long run, in decades, the decision will be worth it for the country.
It was in spring 2018 when Orbán's childhood friend and ally Lőrinc Mészáros' Opus Global purchased the majority stake in the power plant's ownership. It was announced just before Christmas that state-owned company MVM would take it over. Meanwhile, between the transactions, Opus took out dividends worth more than the actual price. In addition, the plant has made headlines due to poisonous gases leaking into one of the buildings, within the vicinity of a nearby reservoir, while neighboring waters were also polluted.
Orbán also added that since Hungary can only generate its own energy from lignite, keeping the power plant open is strategic, even if it isn’t in use. He also promised that the whole procedure would be transparent, adding that an international property evaluation company has been charged with assessing the deal, which once completed, will be made public.