Here are a few items I found in the last few days that, while they may not deserve a whole post, certainly should be noted. The one that gave me perhaps the greatest shock came from an article I found on a site I wasn’t familiar with before but that has many useful pieces on economic and business matters. The article that describes a “frightening” statistic fresh off the website of the Központi Statisztikai Hivatal (KSH/Central Statistical Office) compares the productivity of foreign and domestic firms. It is a concise summary of the research published by KSH with all the necessary graphs, tables, and data.
The very first graph, on the share of foreign firms in the gross added value produced in the member states of the European Union, is shocking enough. It shows that Hungary, neck to neck with Ireland, has the greatest share. In general, and understandably, the foreign contribution to national economies is highest in the former communist countries. The sad truth in Hungary is that 53% of the revenue of the business sector is produced by foreign firms, which in monetary terms means 45 trillion forints. This sector produced 8,900 billion forints of added value. These firms also invested 2 trillion forints, or 45% of all investment, into the Hungarian economy. The foreign firms’ outperformance in revenue was accomplished with less than 30% of the workforce.
Both foreign and domestic firms increased their revenue over the last nine years, but the revenue of foreign firms increased by 20% while that of Hungarian firms grew by only 10%. If we look at the situation from the angle of added value, foreign firms have improved by 48% as opposed to the Hungarian companies’ 26%. So, instead of closing the gap with foreign companies, Hungarian companies are losing ground. Here are a few examples. Nine years ago an employee of a multinational created 9.7 million worth of added value as opposed to a Hungarian’s 4.1 million, or 2.4 times more. By 2015 the ratio was more than 2.6: 13.5 million versus 5.1 million forints.
That sounds bad enough, but it is even more shocking that about 690,000 men and women who work for foreign companies produce more goods and value than the almost 2 million employees of Hungarian companies.
Open your mouth and lose your job
One of the speakers at the Pécs rally in defense of the civil charitable group that received a large Soros-funded grant to disperse among smaller humanitarian groups in southern Transdanubia just lost his job. Tamás P. Horváth, who recently published his second book, became nationally known with his 2015 historical novel on the life of Miklós Zsolnay, the only son of the founder of the famed porcelain factory in Pécs. In private life, P. Horváth was the chef of the Hungarian Reformed Gymnasium. That is the school in which Péter Hoppál, Fidesz MP and undersecretary in charge of culture in the ministry of human resources, was once upon a time a chorister and music teacher. Hoppál eventually became the principal of the school and is still on the school’s board. It was his successor who called P. Horváth into his office to tell him that his services were no longer required. P. Horváth had signed a contract for a year in August, and after three months of satisfactory performance his position seemed secure. But retaliation was swift. He could pack up his belongings and leave immediately. The fact that the man is the father of five doesn’t seem to move the Christian souls of Calvin’s sons. After all, those children are not getting the “proper” education to become true patriots of the nation.
Of course, the principal of the school claims that there is absolutely no connection between P. Horváth’s political activities and his firing. But when Attila Babos of Szabad Pécs asked the principal the reason for P. Horváth’s loss of his job, the head of the school added a piece of advice both to the journalist and to P. Horváth. “Please understand that it wouldn’t help the situation of the person concerned if a basically work-related professional matter were to become a political issue.” So, back off because otherwise both the journalist and the fired chef can get into more trouble. The purported explanation for the firing was feeble, but it became truly ridiculous when it turned out that P. Horváth was supposed to deliver a lecture in January to the seniors on his new book and his literary craft. Interestingly, the lecture was also cancelled, and surely that lecture wasn’t about his culinary art.
Thirty-nine kitchenettes for the Felcsút Academy
After a lot of legal haggling Demokratikus Koalíció managed to find out how the Felcsút Academy spends the enormous amount of money it receives every year from Corporation Tax Allowance (TAO). It wasn’t easy to get the information. DK had to go all the way to the Kúria. For some strange reason, Felcsút was loath to reveal the amount it received and how it used taxpayer money.
First of all, last year Felcsút got 5.4 billion forints, which is a TAO record. Among the many sports-related items was one that took people’s breath away. 155 million forints were spent on a kitchenette. Index described a kitchenette (teakonyha) as a room used for cooking which must be larger than 2m² and no greater than 4m2 and must have separate ventilation. Index then calculated a 4m2 kitchenette’s price per square meter and compared it to the price per square meter of an apartment in the most elegant section of Buda, Rózsadomb (Hill of Roses). While the price of the Buda luxury real estate is 900,000 Ft per square meter, the Felcsút kitchenette’s price is almost 40 million.
The country was aghast, or at least those were appalled who are sick and tired of Viktor Orbán, Felcsút, the Academy, Lőrinc Mészáros, and the whole lot. But then it was discovered that the initial figure was incorrect. Actually, 220 million will be spent on 39 kitchenettes. They will cost between 1.3 and 2.8 million forints per square meter. I do hope the students appreciate their posh accommodations.