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Under-Pressure Head Of Hungary’s Tax Authority Resigns

Tamás Székely 2015.07.21.

Ildikó Vida has resigned from her post as head of Hungary’s tax authority NAV, the economy ministry said. Until a successor is appointed, vice president Árpád Varga will head the authority. Ildikó Vida tendered her resignation on May 20, while relevant laws allow for two months of a notice period. The new tax chief will be selected after key components in a planned reform to the authority have been implemented. Economy minister Mihály Varga said he highly appreciated the efforts of Ildikó Vida as NAV president and wished further success in her work. He said earlier in an interview that “changes in the management of NAV might be necessary” after the way the US entry ban against senior Hungarian officials was handled last year.

The Economy Ministry noted that that Hungary’s economy had entered a new era of steady growth, which required changes in the structure of the tax authority. The new organisation will be more efficient and more customer friendly, and “more compatible with the new structure of the economy”, it said. The economy ministry praised Vida’s role in stabilising Hungary’s public finance and integrating the tax authority with the national customs office. Under Vida’s leadership tax revenues had considerably increased and the illegal economy was reduced. It was also under her tenure that online tills were introduced to link retail shops directly to NAV’s system, thus removing opportunities for illegal deals.

The opposition parties reacted rather harshly to the announcement. The Socialists (MSZP) qualified tax authority chief Ildikó Vida’s resignation as “a stage in the mafia war”, and accused ruling Fidesz and minister Mihály Varga of “having lied all along”. Zoltán Gőgös, the party’s deputy leader, said that the government had tried to “whitewash” Vida, who had been banned from the US under corruption charges. Her resignation “equals pleading guilty” but will “not resolve any of the shady deals”, Gőgös said, demanding a comprehensive probe. Vida’s resignation also “warns Fidesz that corrupted governments are doomed for failure”, he said.

The green LMP party suggested that Vida should have resigned much earlier, over what the party sees as NAV’s reluctance to launch a probe into major VAT fraud reported to the authority a year and a half ago. The party insisted that “the government was covering up” for Vida ever since November 2013, and “did not make her resign before it saw as necessary in its war with oligarchs”. The government’s secrecy over the resignation, tendered two months ago, is unacceptable, LMP said. The Dialogue for Hungary (PM) said that the country would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire” if “another corrupted Orbán-favourite” replaces Vida at the helm of NAV. PM insisted that the government is not interested in fighting corruption and keeps putting off steps to identify those responsible for major graft.

Radical nationalist Jobbik deputy group leader János Volner said Fidesz and Vida should explain to the public the real reasons of her resignation. The prime minister and senior Fidesz officials had previously took her defence and Orban even said in connection with her ban from the US that he saw no evidence that could justify it, Volner said.

via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu photo: Lajos Soós – MTI


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