Orban: Changes to road toll system to benefit Hungarians

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The planned changes in the road toll system will work to benefit Hungarians and the introduction of optional e-stickers for individual counties will be an improvement on the whole, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. Mr Orban told public radio Kossuth that drivers will have the option to pay an annual HUF 5,000 for using the motorway within a county instead of the annual HUF 41,000 charged earlier for the whole country. Commenting on the introduction of a toll on the M0 Budapest bypass and its connecting roads, he said the aim is not to impose a tax on the agglomeration. The move comes as a part of the introduction of the county-by-county toll system, he insisted. He said he was in agreement with the mayor of the Obuda district in northern Budapest that the Megyeri bridge over the Danube was a city bridge and this stretch of the bypass could be handled differently. The county stickers will benefit Hungarians and those living here, but will not be an option for those crossing the country and they will now pay in the Budapest agglomeration too, the Prime Minister said when asked whether the changes would generate additional revenues to the budget at all. Government sources told journalists on Thursday that the cabinet expects revenue from the changes to come to HUF 20bn. Mr Orban said that at present they have only estimates for the revenue because it is yet to be seen how people adjust to the move. He added that the plan is based on studies. Every penny is needed, as the 2015 budget is still planned with a deficit, and caution will be needed even if the budget reaches a balance in future, the Prime Minister said when asked how much next year’s central budget needed the extra HUF 20bn expected from the move. “…We cannot get to a zero-balance budget in one go”, he said, noting the deficit reduction over the years. Discussions on the subject have been on for years, he said when asked about complaints by the affected mayors in the Budapest agglomeration that they learnt of the plan from the press. The development ministry confirmed press reports on the planned changes in the road toll system, to be introduced from the start of 2015, on Wednesday.