EU energy sanctions and tax increases were also discussed during a debate between Minister Gergely Gulyás and an opposition party leader on Saturday.
It was a fundamental mistake to extend EU sanctions against Russia to include energy because prices started to soar after that, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the Transit Public Life Season Opening and Thought Expo political conference in Tihany, by Lake Balaton on Saturday.
At a debate with Ferenc Gelencsér, President of the opposition Momentum party, Gulyás said in response to the question on energy security concerns that the state buys at fixed prices; until April it had to pay around 21 dollars for oil, and the price of gas was also fixed, a tenth of what it is now.
Gelencsér accused the government of having foreseen well in advance that prices would rise, yet promised to maintain the utility cost reduction ahead of the elections in April. He also questioned why the government is buying a stake in Vodafone Hungary during a difficult economic climate.
Gulyás said that the two issues had nothing to do with each other. The question is whether it is a good investment or not and whether it is right to have at least 50 percent Hungarian ownership in the banking sector, energy, and media. This is a profitable company, and the profits can be used to pay teachers’ salaries later on, he added.
According to Gelencsér, there is no need to raise taxes, because any tax increase will be reflected in prices. Gulyás reminded the opposition politician that tax increases are on Momentum’s program. Gelencsér referred to the fact that their last independent party program is from 2018, so it should be revised.
According to Momentum’s President, the Paks power plant is important, nuclear energy is good, but it is not good that the plant is being built by Russians through Russian loans. The Minister said that they would be happy to replace the Russian loan if the European Commission is open to such a proposal. The first two Paks units were also built with Russian technology. It was possible to choose something else, but then there would be a ten-year delay, he warned. He added that the state could guarantee electricity supply thanks to Paks.
Gulyás accused Momentum MEPs Anna Donáth and Cseh Katalin of doing everything they can to prevent Hungary from receiving the EU funds it is entitled to.
Featured photo via Facebook/Gulyás Gergely