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Gov't seeks alternative financing for Metro 4

Hungary's government is examining how to avoid burdening the budget with its current financing arrangements for building Budapest's fourth metro line, and would like to find alternative methods such as drawing on Brussels funding, said national daily Népszava on Tuesday. The Ft 300 billion (€ 1.1 billion) metro line currently under construction, and planned to be completed by 2010, is being co-financed by Budapest's city council. In order to keep to the targets set in the euro convergence program, which was delivered to Brussels at the start of the month, the government will "sacrifice" the metro project and change its financing scheme, which is grounded on a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), said the paper. Instead it would look to EU funding in order to remove it from the budget. Budapest was earlier reluctant to negotiate such a refinancing plan, but its own interests are supported by keeping the convergence plan's pledges and the municipality is therefore ready to strike a sensible compromise, said the paper. This includes guarantees from the state that the project is carried through by the agreed target date of 2010 and that other important projects, such as the forthcoming Metro 5, are not sidelined because of depleted EU funding, deputy mayor of Budapest Imre Ikvai-Szabó told Népszava. (Mti)