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Strong Swiss franc gives headache to local govts - Part Two

The Swiss franc's sharp firming against the forint has been a cause for concern among Hungary's local governments because some have taken out loans or issued bonds denominated in the currency. MTI's local correspondents asked officials in some of the country's biggest municipalities about the makeup of their debt to give readers a broader view of the situation.

The city of Tatabánya has taken out HUF 6.6 billion of loans and issued HUF 2.6 billion of bonds. None of the loans are used for the city's day-to-day operations and none are denominated in Swiss francs, the head of the local government office told MTI.

The loans are equivalent to 40% of annual revenue, but the cost of servicing the city' debt in 2011 is only about 4% of revenue. The city is having no trouble making repayments.

Oroszlány has HUF 2.4 billion in debt, including almost HUF 2 billion of Swiss franc-based, 15-year bonds. The firmer franc has cost the city an extra HUF 65 million over the past year, city press officer Erika Vasvári told MTI.

The city's debt-to-revenue ration is 57.8%. Debt servicing costs will come to 7.8% of revenue in 2011.

The local government of Komárom has no loans, press officer Gábor Radics told MTI.

The city of Szombathely's debts came to about HUF 16.5 billion at the end of 2010. About HUF 5 billion of the debt is denominated in Swiss francs, deputy mayor Miklós Molnár told MTI.

The CHF loans were taken out by the previous government in 2005 and 2006. Repayments started in 2009-2010, after a three-year grace period.

Molnár estimated the city had a HUF 2.5 billion exchange rate loss on the loans, calculating with a rate of HUF 255 to the franc.

The city of Miskolc has debts of HUF 30.4 billion, including HUF 8 billion of Swiss franc-based bonds, spokesman for the mayor's office Tímea Dobos told MTI. The CHF bonds have runs of 15 and 20 years. Both have a ten-year grace period.

The city issued Swiss franc-based bonds in 2007 and 2008, said local government spokesman Tímea Dobos. Repayment of principal on the CHF 55 million of bonds will start in 2018, she added.

The city of Békéscsaba has debts, including interest, of more than HUF 12.6 billion. This includes loans of HUF 1.7 billion and bonds of HUF 10.9 billion. The city issued a HUF 4 billion 20-year Swiss franc-based bond in 2008, but will start repaying principal only in 2013, the local government's financial department chief Éva Stuber Tar told MTI.

This year the government issued a HUF 2 billion forint-based bond, she said.

Békéscsaba’s debt-to-revenue ratio is 32.7%.

The city of Salgótarján had debts of HUF 2.8 billion at the end of 2010, giving it a debt-to-revenue ratio of 23.4%, including interest, head of the economy department at the mayor's office László Telek told MTI. Working capital loans accounted for HUF 1.1 billion of the stock. The city has issued no bonds.

The city of Veszprém had HUF 6.9 billion of loans at the end of June, all denominated in forints, deputy mayor Mária Branyi told MTI. Working capital loans accounted for HUF 2.9 billion of the stock, she added.

The city's debt-to-revenue ratio is 30.6%, excluding interest.

The local government of Somogy County has debt of more than HUF 10 billion, mostly in bonds, press chief Zoltán Veres told MTI. None of the debt is denominated in Swiss francs, he added.

Somogy County's debt-to-revenue ratio is 31.7%. The cost of servicing its debt is equivalent to 1.43% of revenue.

The local government will start repaying principal on its bonds in 2013.

The city of Kaposvár has HUF 11.9 billion in loans and has issued CHF 43.5 million of bonds, city press chief Orsolya Répás told MTI. The city's debt-to-revenue ratio is 89.93%, she said.

The 20-year bonds were issued in 2007. The city will start repaying principal on the bonds in October of this year.

The city of Szolnok had debt of HUF 27 billion on June, including HUF 19.4 billion of bonds, more than HUF 3.7 billion of investment loans and HUF 3.8 billion of overdrafts, spokesperson for the mayor's office Éva Gyuricska told MTI. About HUF 19.7 billion of the loans are denominated in Swiss francs. About 35% of the proceeds from the bond issues were used as working capital, she added.

The city of Szeged has debt of HUF 23.2 billion, including HUF 2.6 billion of bonds, said local council spokesperson Ágnes Vécsey. The city has CHF 8.4 million in Swiss franc-based loans, or about HUF 1.87 billion at the HUF/CHF 222.68 rate in the municipal budget. Repayments of principal on the loans have been made since December 2005.

Szeged's debt-to-revenue ratio is 34.5%.

Part One