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More than half of eligible Hungarians apply for gas price subsidies

A little more than half of Hungarian households thought to be eligible for special gas price subsidies, which replaced universal gas price subsidies at the start of the year, have applied for the support.

So far about 1.2 million Hungarian households have submitted applications for the gas price subsidies, government spokeswoman Emese Danks said on Wednesday. As much as 70% of the applications have been approved, but some applicants have been asked to submit supplementary materials. Hungarians have until the end of March to submit applications for the subsidy. Even then, successful applicants will be eligible for retroactive subsidies from the start of the year.

About 2 million of Hungary's 3.8 million households should be eligible for a total of Ft 112 billion in gas price subsidies allocated in the 2007 Budget Act, according to the Ministry of Social and Labour Affairs. The subsidies are intended only for low-income households. Under the previous system of gas price subsidies abolished at the end of last year, consumers pay on average Ft 62 of the Ft 101 cost of retail gas price. These subsidies cost taxpayers Ft 160 billion in 2006 and would cost them more than Ft 220 billion in 2007, if the subsidy system had not been changed to make wealthier Hungarians ineligible for some subsidies. Under the new system, low-income households will pay up to 11% less for their gas, while wealthy Hungarians will have to pay up to 62% more. (Mti-Eco)