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Home arrow News arrow Political News arrow Hungarian News arrow Did Hungarys economy minister bail because he doesnt want to be around when Malv crashes and burn
Did Hungarys economy minister bail because he doesnt want to be around when Malv crashes and burn PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Tamás Fellegi today took up his new position as minister without portfolio, following his request last week to stand aside as minister of national development. While there is ongoing speculation over his replacement, there is even more tittle-tattle regarding the reason or reasons Fellegi decided to publicly ask an apparently reluctant Prime Minster Viktor Orbán for reassignment. Let me add some my own!

 

Officially, Fellegi wanted out of his previous post so he can focus on the upcoming rescue talks with the IMF, which he rather than Economy Minister (and shamed IMF-basher) György Matolcsy, will be spearheading.

But within hours of his announcement – which, awkwardly enough, was made while Orbán was out of town – speculation began on the “real” reason for his move.

According to high-placed sources corralled by HVG, Fellegi’s position had been weakened in the government over the past few months for various reasons. One source said Fellegi’s managerial skills were patchy and he failed to communicate with his staff on a regular basis, while some big initiatives launched under his watch – including a much-ballyhooed opening to China – failed to amount to much. According to the newsmagazine, Fellegi was also locked in a bitter internal power struggle with influential business circles around Fidesz, mainly over his personnel choices and reshuffles. Meanwhile, other press sources speculated that with his appointment as chief IMF negotiator Fellegi will be gradually taking over the responsibilities of Economy Ministry György Matolcsy to clear decks for the latter’s quiet exit from government.

But I see another, more specific reason Fellegi may have bailed: He doesn’t want to be around when national airline Malév comes crashing down.

Malév’s obituary has been written so many times one always has to be cautious about saying this is really it. But it is increasingly looking like this is really it. The EU is apparently unyielding in its opinion that the years of open-ended subsidies not only must come to a halt, but that all these billions of forints will need to be paid back in full. Which, of course, Malév cannot do – a reality Fellegi has been refreshingly candid about. (Also refreshing was the government’s decision to omit any mention of the airline from the 2012 budget, though given past spur-of-the-moment Malév bailouts, that may have been not quite as candid.)

With the bankrupting of Malév now considered more or less inevitable, Fellegi had apparently been tasked with finding a new partner that would invest in a successor company committed to keeping something akin to Malév in the air. But the early great hope – Chinese airline Hainan – was dashed. Then, last Monday, just before he made clear his intention to quit the ministry in charge of keeping Malév alive, Fellegi said an unnamed “listed European” firm was now interested in stepping in. The company was subsequently identified by local media as the parent of Czech charter airline Travel Service. But in the week and a half since this press conference no one has said boo about the deal. Which makes one have to wonder if it’s going anywhere.

Not that it would be a surprise if it wasn’t going anywhere. Even if the airline industry in general weren’t one of the world centers of value destruction, running a heavily-politicized airline with a torturous history in Hungary, without the promise of public funds, would be a very dubious proposition.

Now, imagine for a second that you are Tamás Fellegi. Would you really want to be the “guy in charge” when the announcement is made that this time Malév really actually isn’t going to make it, and, by extension, that Hungary has suffered yet another painful blow to its national economic pride? Hell no – especially because whoever is the fall guy for the fall of Malév won’t even get to enjoy watching it actually crash and burn.

(realdeal.hu)

 
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