Ad hoc parliamentary committee to review privatization of sugar industry starts work

Parliament

An ad hoc parliamentary committee established to review the privatization of Hungary's sugar refineries heard testimony by industry insiders on Monday.

Istvan Kelemen, chief secretary of the National Sugar Beet Growers Association (CTOSZ), told the committee the privatization of Hungary's sugar industry was not entirely well thought out. Most professional investors brought their money to Hungary to get market share, he added.

Hungary used to have twelve operating sugar refineries, but all but one -- the Kaposvar sugar refinery, owned by Magyar Cukor, a unit of Austria's Agrana -- were shut down after the EU slashed sugar price subsidies and offered farmers and refineries incentives to get out of the business starting in 2006.

Today sugar beet is grown on just 13,000 hectares in Hungary, down from 64,000 when the country joined the EU in 2004.

Sandor Font, co-chairman of the committee, could not say when the body would meet next. That will depend on when documents it requested from ministries and farm offices arrive, he added.

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