Constitution – Draft presented to President Schmitt

Budapest, March 14 (MTI) – The parliamentary leaders of the governing Fidesz-Christian Democratic party alliance presented a draft of Hungary’s new constitution to President Pal Schmitt in Budapest on Monday.

Fidesz group leader Janos Lazar asked the president to call upon all MPs to take part in the parliamentary debate over the draft.

The opposition Socialists and green Politics Can Be Different announced last year that they would boycott the drafting process because of the ruling party’s approach to the Constitutional Court.

Lazar asked the president to encourage civic organisations to expound their views about the draft.

The Fidesz group leader said that Parliament would discuss the draft supreme law for over a month and approve it on April 18, Easter Monday.

He noted that the body responsible for national consultations on the constitution had sent a questionnaire with 12 key issues to 8.5 million voters, and over 800,000 copies had already be returned.

Lazar said the draft left the question open whether voters with kids would get more votes in elections. The issue will be decided upon by Parliament, he said.

The Constitutional Court’s scope of authority is another matter for debate, Lazar said, adding that the new supreme law would not curtail the rights of the top court.


LMP calls for review of Paks nuclear power plant

Budapest, March 15 (MTI) – Green opposition party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) on Tuesday called for a review of the Paks nuclear power plant, monitored by independent experts, in light of the nuclear catastrophe in Japan.

The tragedy in Japan shows again that the use of nuclear energy is first of all a question of safety and only second a question of economic and energy policy, LMP said in a statement sent to MTI.

A review of the technical and safety conditions at the Paks reactors must be carried out to determine if an extension of their lifespan is possible or should even be allowed, LMP said.

The lifespan of the plant’s four blocks, completed between 1982 and 1987, were originally set to end in 2012-17, but a planned project will extend the reactors’ operation by another 20 years.

The Paks plant in central Hungary, the country’s only nuclear power plant, accounted for more than 42pc of electricity generated last year.


EC opens infringement procedure against Hungary over telecoms tax

Brussels, March 14 (MTI) – The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had opened infringement proceedings against Hungary over a new “special tax” imposed on the telecoms sector last October. The prime minister’s spokesman, however, said that the special tax complied with the EU laws.

Hungary imposed an up to 6.5 percent tax on telecom operators in order to boost tax revenues.

“On the basis of information received from the Hungarian authorities, the Commission is concerned that the special tax on telecom operators is levied to cover costs other than administrative and regulatory costs related to the telecoms sector and is therefore incompatible with EU telecom rules,” the statement said.

The Hungarian government has two months to reply and if the Commission’s concerns are not allayed, then a formal request will be issued for Hungary to ensure that it complies with EU law on taxation, the statement added.

Peter Szijjarto, the Prime Minister’s spokesman, said that the special tax was in compliance with EU laws in every respect. The shared distribution of burdens is a European value and the special tax has been introduced in keeping with this principle, he added.

Szijjarto said Hungary had not yet received the official letter requesting information but as soon as it arrives, the government would immediate prepare an answer and send it within the deadline.