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PMO Head on Coronavirus Equipment Buying: ‘It’s a dog-eat-dog world, contracts or down payments are often not enough’

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.04.16.

The government will only be able to account for the protective gear it has procured once the equipment is delivered, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said at his regular press briefing. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world on the markets where these supplies are sold, so we can only account for what we receive,” Gergely Gulyás added.

Citing information from the foreign ministry on the practices concerning the procurements, Gulyás said that it was often the case that not even contracts or down payments were enough to guarantee delivery of the supplies.

The aim is to ensure that the country’s health-care system is able to cope with a massive increase in infections, he said, adding that this was the reason behind the instruction to hospitals to set aside a proportion of beds for coronavirus patients.

On the subject of ventilators, Gulyás said 8,000-8,500 ventilators were required under the worst-case scenario as against Hungary’s current stock of 2,500. The government is concentrating on slowing down the epidemic and purchasing ventilators at the same time, Gulyás said, adding that orders for 15,000 ventilators have been placed. “In the current situation, however, their delivery is not guaranteed.” Most of Hungary’s 2,500 ventilators are so far unused, he added.

Gulyás said there were 150-200 infected health-care staff, and the rate of increase was in proportion to wider infections among the general public, and slightly better than what is the case on average internationally.

Coronavirus: Gov’t Says Large-scale Hospital Evacuations to Prepare for Mass Infections

Meanwhile, Gulyás said the government has so far spent 500 billion forints (EUR 1.4bn) on buying protective equipment and making other preparations in connection with the epidemic.

Gulyás said the government is regrouping funding from various ministries and the prime minister’s office to finance the country’s economic protection fund.

The PM’s office will make savings of 119 billion forints, the farm ministry 20 billion, the interior ministry 28 billion, the finance ministry 21 billion, the innovation and technology ministry 334 billion, the foreign ministry 22 billion, the human resources ministry 81 billion, the cabinet office 46 billion, while government offices will save 854 billion forints.

Ministry operations will become “more difficult” as a result but salary payments won’t be affected, he added.

Featured photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI