Public transport provision is the Budapest administration’s main task, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that Gergely Karácsony, the city’s mayor, would be unfit for office if he failed to solve the city’s transport financing. The Budapest metropolitan council, had it been willing to cooperate, would have solved the city’s public transport financing long ago, the statement said. Karácsony, it added, either due to incompetence or, more recently, his tactic of diverting attention away from scandals plaguing City Hall, had failed to address the issue. “This is still in the mayor’s hands,” the statement said. While central budget financing for local public transport is significant, its provision is a statutory task of local governments, the ministry said, adding that the city administration was refusing to pay its share in respect of public transport for the city’s agglomeration and to conclude the financing agreement accordingly. All that’s required is the mayor’s signature, it added.
In response, Karácsony said on Facebook that rather than the government supporting the city, it was the other way round, insisting that the government deducted 98% of local taxes paid in the capital, while the city had to pay into the central budget from its own revenues. Budapest has become a net payer into the central budget, he said, adding that this had once been “unimaginable”. Karácsony insisted the government would hobble Budapest’s public transport by withholding the 12 billion forints which was owed to the city as part of the budget law. The government, the mayor added, was “punishing the people of Budapest”.