President wonʼt sign bills that would shield public spending

Issues

Hungarian President János Áder 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, according to reports.

In connection with the MNB legislation, 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.

The MNB legislation was passed by Parliament at the beginning of March after the Budapest City Courtʼs ruling that the MNBʼs Pallas Athéné Domus Animae Foundation must publish information on the flow of public money, amounting to approximately HUF 260 billion. Socialist MP Bertalan Tóth had gone to court requesting this information, and won the right to have it published, but the new legislation would have annulled the Budapest Courtʼs ruling.

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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