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Govt merges interest coordination bodies

The government is reorganizing Hungary's three interest coordination bodies and will combine them in a single body called the National Economic and Social Council (NGTT), the National Economy Ministry said on Friday.

The new body will unify the National Interest Coordination Council (OÉT), the Economic and Social Council (GSZT) and the Economic Interest Coordination Forum (GEF), all of which now operate in parallel.

With the change, the government wants to replace an "obsolete" system of interest coordination with a new, more efficient system that covers the entire economy as well as society, the ministry said. The members of the NGTT are to include, in addition to unions and employers, representatives of business chambers, social and scientific civil organizations, and of Hungary's historical churches.

"The government doest not wish to take a defining role within the framework of the reorganized interest coordination," the ministry said. The main actors at consultations will be members' delegates, while the government's representative will be a permanent guest, it added.

András Pásztóy, one of the OÉT's secretaries, wrote in a circular email sent to union chiefs on Friday afternoon that all three of the body's secretaries had been relieved of their duties by the head of the Employment-Management Department of the National Economy Ministry because of the OÉT is being wound up.

Union heads told MTI late Friday they thought the reorganization was a step backward.

János Borsik, chairman of unions association ASZSZ, said the new body would not be capable of taking over the functions of the OÉT. The move goes against generally accepted European norms, he added.

LIGA Unions head István Gaskó said workers have separate interest coordination forums all over Europe. From the details revealed thus far, it appears "the government does not want to continue separate talks with laborers," he added.