The confidence level of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)Â dipped sharply in June, figures released last Thursday by Ecostat, the research arm of the Central Statistical Office (KSH) showed. Ecostat said that the SME business confidence index dropped to 39.7 points from 46.2, the lowest since September 2006. The drop marked the end of a steady eight-month rise in confidence. Regarding the future of their own business, only 11% of the managers were optimistic, as opposed to 26% in May. Some 45% of managers expressed pessimism, a sharp hike on the 29% in May.
A National Association of Entrepreneurs (VOSZ) survey has found that the inflationary pressure on wages is only due in a small part to government efforts to whiten the economy. Deputy Chairman of VOSZ Tamás Gláser told business daily Napi Gazdaság that only 20% of the rise was due to whitening, while up to 60% was up to real wage increases. The government has claimed that this date showed it was making great strides in tackling the black and grey economies. Hungarian National Bank Governor András Simor, while explaining the bank’s surprise rate cut last week, said that increases in gross wages were in part due to the whitening of the economy, and thus represented a smaller-than-thought inflationary risk.
The jobless rate fell to 7.3% in March-May from 7.5% in February-April, the Central Statistical Office said last Thursday. There were 307,700 jobless in March-May, down from 314,300 in Feb-April.
The European Court of Justice is set to rule in the autumn on whether Hungary’s local business tax complies with EU regulations after it finished hearing the case last Thursday. Complainant companies claim that the tax is turnover-based, while EU regulations allow only one such tax (VAT), and want their payments since Hungary joined the EU in May 2004 reimbursed.
The daughter and one of the sons of US Ambassador to Hungary April Foley were caught up in bar scuffle in District VIII, Kossuth Rádió reported. Budapest Police spokesman Tibor Jármy said that a fight broke out after two groups of people got into an argument, resulting in light injuries to one person. US Embassy spokeswomanÂ Kate Byrnes refused to comment on the issue, saying it was a private family matter.
A zoo in the town of Veszprém (north of Lake Balaton) has adopted a two-and-a-half tonne white Rhino called Pablo. The safari park in Hannover, Germany where the humungous herbivore lived no longer had enough room for him, explained a spokesman last week. Veszprém zoo has built a special one-hectare enclosure for Pablo, and plans to find him some friends to share his new home with in the near future. Spokesman Lajos Endredi said the zoo will be participating in a programme to save the critically endangered species. Hungary’s other famous rhino, the calf that become the first white rhino to be born after artificial insemination, is doing well, Budapest Zoo said last week. Layla, who was born on 23 January this year, is already approaching 300 kilograms.Â
A policeman unintentionally shot a colleague last Thursday at the Teve utca headquarters of the Budapest police, the daily Népszabadság reported last week. The exact circumstances surrounding the shooting are unclear, but it appears that detectives were kitting up for shooting practice when a gun was accidentally fired. The bullet passed through a plasterboard wall and a colleague on the other side – who was also getting ready to brush up his marksmanship – was wounded in the arm. The hapless victim was operated on at the Uzsoki hospital, and his condition is said to be not serious. An inquiry into the incident has been launched.
Sopron’s eclectic VOLT festival expected
to attract 60,000 fans British
dance band The Prodigy, US rockers Korn and “organic” rappers The Roots will
headline this year’s VOLT Festival in Sopron from Wednesday to Saturday (4 to 7
Mathematicians break world recordÂ More than 30 years after Hungarian building engineer and architect Ern? Rubik patented his six-sided puzzle in 1975, mathematicians, with the help of a new theory and a high performance computer, have broken a world record, proving that the Rubik’s cube can be restored to its original state from any position in just 26 moves.
Bank fools the analysts
the Monetary Council’s rate decision last Monday, analysts were almost
unanimous in expecting that the Central Bank would not lower the base rate in
June from 8.0%. Although analysts predicted a total rate cut of around 0.75% to
1.0% in the remainder of the year, the timing of the current 0.25% cut came as
An MSZP councillor in
the southern county
of Bács-Kiskun was named
as a suspect in a case of misappropriation of funds amounting to some HUF 50
million (EUR 200,000) by weekly news magazine HVG last week. The State
Prosecutor’s Office has been investigating seven foundations and organisations
that applied for and received government funding, of which over HUF 50 million
(EUR 203,205) seems to have disappeared.
Minister of Defence Imre
Szekeres appeared to be snubbed on a visit to Moscow last week when his Russian counterpart
Anatoly Serdyukov claimed he was too busy to meet him. Szekeres later said that
the visit was unofficial and that he had known in advance that Serdyukov could
not meet him.
threatens to get really cross next year with Bulgaria
European Commission last week reprimanded the EU’s newest members Bulgaria and Romania for doing too little to
combat corruption and organised crime, but chose not to impose any sanctions on
the two states.
reports are a reality check. They show how the Bulgarian and Romanian
governments are tackling judicial reform, corruption and organised crime,” the
President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said last week.
Barroso added that there now needs to be more emphasis on implementing laws
rather than just passing them.
corruption is still one point of weakness. Both governments are aware of this,”
Franco Frattini, the Italian Commissioner for Justice and Home said at a press
conference shortly after the Commission adopted the six-monthly progress
reports on both countries.
Despite the Commission’s reluctance to impose any
kind of punishment beyond the reprimands in the progress reports published last
week, it stated that it might if there were still problems next year.
Communist past still to divide the nation has been highlighted again over the
past fortnight. On 21 June, the news broke that Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány
wants to bestow the nation’s highest state honour on one of his predecessors,
Gyula Horn. The award of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic
was to mark the 75th birthday (on 5 July) of the man who will be remembered for
his role in rupturing the Iron Curtain in 1989, when he was Foreign Minister in
the last Communist government.