Let’s pretend you’re not only head of the country’s tax authority, but also a state secretary in charge of tax issues. What do you do when the people of the town you were mayor of for eight years complain to you that petrol prices are too high? Any ideas? Well, if you're stuck, you should ask András Tállai, head of Hungary’s tax authority (NAV) and former mayor of Mezőkövesd. He will certainly sort you out.
Tállai’s idea was so ingenious that it has already made international headlines.
He boasts on his Facebook page about a successful "negotiation" with oil and gas group Mol that resulted in the reduction of fuel prices in his constituency of Mezőkövesd, a city of about 17,000 people 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Budapest.
I've attended to fuel prices in Mezőkövesd and its vicinity based on a citizen’s request
, Tállai said in a Facebook post on Saturday. The state secretary in charge of tax issues in Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government had previously obtained lavish state and corporate subsidies for the local first-division soccer team, Bloomberg reminded.
"We negotiated with officials at Mol and, as a result, gasoline prices have fallen 11 forint and diesel by 5 forint compared with October 31."
Of course, there could be major price differences at the pumps, the price reduction by Mol in Mezőkövesd at Tállai’s request compares with a national average increase of HUF 16 per one litre of unleaded petrol and HUF 11 for diesel across all brands this month.
"While Orbán has made energy price cuts a campaign theme before, the sudden focus on a single constituency shows the ruling party’s willingness to intervene in the economy for political gain," Bloomberg reported.
It added that Hungary is holding parliamentary elections next year, with Orbán’s Fidesz party in full campaign mode despite already leading by a wide margin in all opinion polls.
Tállai said the "equalisation" of prices was set to continue in the region. Update:
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was also asked about Tállai's move. Here's what he said: 14/11/2017 2:01pm
Hungary´s Orbán pats fuel price magician tax chief on the back