Hungary’s government considers its top priority this year to be protecting Hungarian families and businesses from the effects of the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine and Brussels’s flawed sanctions, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Monday. Responding to an open letter from Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony and other mayors, Gergely Gulyás said the government’s utility bill support scheme saves families over 2 million forints (EUR 4,700) a year. It also helps big families with their heating bills and has capped firewood and lignite prices, Gulyás noted. Further, the government is preserving the value of pensions, has reintroduced the 13th month pension and is again giving a bonus to pensioners this year, he added. Concerning job protection, Gulyás said the government has launched a support scheme for small and medium-sized companies in energy-intensive manufacturing segments. It is also working on a programme aimed at saving factories and is prepared to launch another job protection action plan if necessary, he said.
Gulyás said that in recent years, the left, Karácsony and his party as well as “the capital’s representatives in Brussels” had consistently opposed nuclear energy. “They have also done everything they could in Brussels to thwart the upgrade of the Paks nuclear power plant which is key to energy security,” he added. “Yet in their open letter to the prime minister they write about the extraordinary potential in electricity generated by the Paks plant and the cheap energy that can be harnessed from nuclear power,” he added. Energy generated by the Paks plant covers around a third of Hungary’s annual electricity consumption, he noted. The remainder of the country’s energy needs are covered by other power plants and energy imports, he added. Therefore, the Budapest mayor’s request for the Paks plant to supply electricity to local councils rather than households would bring about the end of the utility price cap scheme, which the government rejects, Gulyás said. He said the government would accept any contributions offered by the richest local councils — including Budapest — to the utility protection fund aimed at protecting families and jobs.