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The government and the Budapest municipal council reached agreements on multiple key projects, including the renovation of the capital’s iconic Chain Bridge, at a meeting of the municipal public development council, the state secretary in charge of development projects in and around Budapest has said. The government has agreed to provide the six billion forints (EUR 16.5m) it promised earlier towards the renovation of the Chain Bridge if the municipal council guarantees that the bridge will not have to be closed for longer than 18 months, Balázs Fürjes told a press conference. The money will only be transferred to the capital if it runs out of funding for the project, he added. The two sides also agreed on the need to upgrade the Danube embankments. Also, the metropolitan council will have advisory rights in the designation of the capital’s “brown-field” zones, Fürjes said. In addition, the council will hand over its plans on linking the M2 metro and the H8 HÉV lines. An agreement was also reached on the extension of Buda’s interconnected tram network, he said. The government and the city council, however, failed to reach a deal on planned traffic changes on the city’s Grand Boulevard and the Liget Project, the state secretary said. He expressed hope that the city council would accept the government’s proposal to take over certain development projects.
Budapest Deputy Mayor Ambrus Kiss said the talks had not yielded any major developments in the city’s main projects, “but at least we’re negotiating”. He said the council had decided against repealing extra taxes Budapest had to contribute to the central budget, which he said would cost the capital 40 billion forints between 2020 and 2022. The government did not support the introduction of a new tax aimed at rebooting the city’s economy and neither will the municipal council be allowed to take out a loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), he said.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said on Facebook that the government was “trying to take Budapest under its guardianship”. This was reflected, he said, in that “all the capital’s proposals were rejected while [the central government] offered to pay for and carry out developments”. Karácsony said it was actually not the government or the municipal council, but the taxpayers including Budapest residents, who would pay for developments. He added that 36% of Hungary’s GDP is generated in Budapest. The government is trying to reduce the opposition’s room for manoeuvre in municipalities in order to “point a finger at them and endlessly repeat the mantra that they are incompetent”, he said, adding that the projects that are supported by Budapest residents should be implemented. “More green instead of concrete and a liveable city instead of prestige projects,” he said, stating that he had received his mandate to follow this principle and would insist on doing so.