Authorities withhold reason for giving away Hungarian highways for 35 years

Despite a court judgement, the National Concession Bureau (NKI), established in September 2020 but still lacking a website, will not release the calculations underlying the 35-year motorway concession in response to Transparency International’s (TI) data access request and will try to appeal. [Shutterstock/Barat Roland]

The Hungarian National Concession Bureau will go to the Supreme Court (Kúria) to withhold the release of the calculations underlying a 35-year concession contract of the country’s motorways to a consortium linked to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Telex reported via Radio Free Europe.

Despite a court judgement, the National Concession Bureau (NKI), established in September 2020 but still lacking a website, will not release the calculations underlying the 35-year motorway concession in response to Transparency International’s (TI) data access request and will try to appeal.

With this contract, awarded at the beginning of May, the state excluded competition from the market for the entirety of the period in the areas concerned.

The winner of the tender – Themis, a consortium of private equity funds where the ultimate beneficiaries are obscure but are allegedly linked with childhood friend and Orbán ally billionaire Lőrinc Mészáros, – will have to maintain a total of 1,662 km of motorways as well as build hundreds of kilometres of additional highways in exchange for benefitting from collecting tolls.

TI requested documents to see what preliminary considerations the state has made to determine that this solution is the most cost-effective.

The NKI had previously refused to release the requested calculations, claiming that the contract was not yet awarded. After losing the case on appeal, it is now planning to go to the Kúria, the country’s highest court, according to the press reports.

Last July, TI turned to the European Commission to investigate the compatibility of the 35-year motorway concession with EU law. According to Radio Free Europe, the Commission is waiting to examine the signed concession contract.

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