Hungary places its motorway network under a 35-year concession

Vehicles are seen on the M1 motorway, 80 km west of Budapest, on March 15, 2013. REUTERS / Laszlo Balogh

BUDAPEST, June 14 (Reuters) – Hungary to renovate the management of around 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of its highways and public roads, awarding a 35-year concession contract, according to a call for tenders published in the Journal on Monday official of the European Union.

The Tenders Electronic Daily publication, which was first reported by the local news website, states that the concession involves the planning, renovation, construction, control, operation and financing of the network for an annual fee.

The contract winner would build and renovate hundreds of kilometers of highways, including more than 100 bridges and other components.

According to a government statement, Budapest is following the lead of other European countries and expects the deal to be budget neutral, as toll revenues are expected to be sufficient to fund concession fees.

Infrastructure development has been rapid in Hungary in recent years under Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, and the Prime Minister has been criticized as many of his associates have received large pieces of public tenders.

This includes his childhood friend Lorinc Meszaros, a former pipefitter who became the richest individual in the country with a fortune well over 1 billion euros, according to several estimates.

Orban faces a hotly contested election for the first time since coming to power in 2010, as six opposition parties joined forces to overthrow him.

The government also ceded the management of higher education and decided to sell state-owned real estate at a reduced price, prompting critics to accuse it of selling state assets and d ‘try to ensure control beyond its mandate. Read more

The government has denied the accusations, saying it acted in the name of efficiency.

Meszaros won the construction of a railway extension on the Belgrade-Budapest line, a project led and funded by China that is part of the “One Belt One Road” initiative to facilitate China’s access to European markets.

Report by Marton Dunai; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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