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Court may rule tomorrow on law to shield MNB spending

Issues

The Constitutional Court could rule tomorrow on whether to allow amendments that let the central bank and Post Office classify their spending of public money, the court’s general secretary, Botond Bitskey, told Hungarian news agency MTI late yesterday. If the amendments are allowed, they would overturn a decision today to force the bank to open up its books.

Hungarian President János Áder on March 9 declined to sign two measures to limit public information that were passed by Parliament on March 1: one allowing the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) to classify data on how it spends public money for its foundations and another restricting public access to information concerning the national postal service.

If the Constitutional Court tomorrow accepts the two measures, it will make redundant todayʼs Supreme Courtʼs decision, which says that the MNB must release data on all tenders managed by the Pallas Athene Domus Animae Foundation (PADA) up to the date of the data request by journalist Károly Csabai, according to reports. According to the Supreme Court, every organization that manages public funds must be accountable to the public in connection with these funds, and public money and property must be handled in a transparent way, MTI reported, adding that data relating to public funds and national assets are considered data of public interest.

After Parliament passed legislation that would keep the public spending of MNB and the Post Office confidential, the president asked for a ruling from the Constitutional Court, which has 30 days to decide whether the legislation is against Hungary’s Fundamental Law (Constitution). The president said that the legislation is not in harmony with laws regulating the handling of public money and providing public information, according to reports.

Áder noted that Hungaryʼs new Constitution “places special importance on constitutional requirements affecting public funding and public information compared to the previous constitution”, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

Áder cited the retroactive effect of the amendments to the postal act as justification for sending that legislation to the Constitutional Court, MTI reported.

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