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Ousted retailers could be compensated

| May 10, 2013

The Hungarian government is considering what it should do to compensate tobacco-product retailers who missed out when tobacco retail licenses were recently put out to tender, according to an All Hungary Media Group story (AHMG).

Legislation passed in September last year provided for the establishment of a state monopoly of the retail sale of tobacco products from July 1, 2013. The process, overseen by the National Tobacco Trade Non-profit (NTTN) organization, has involved putting out for tender a limited number of tobacco retail concessions.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban apparently told public radio Kossuth the government was working to ensure that people whose livelihoods depended on selling tobacco products, but who had failed in their bids for licenses, stayed in business.

And ruling Fidesz party group leader Antal Rogan said he supported the idea of compensation.

But asked whether plans were afoot to ban family members of local council officials from getting licenses, Rogan said such a move would create more problems than it would solve.

Meanwhile, NTTN has refused a socialist MP’s request for access to documents containing bids submitted for the recent tenders.

The company rejected Csaba Toth’s request to view the bids, arguing that even though NTTN was publicly owned, it was not a state agency and so it did not have to disclose such information.

Toth said he would appeal to the National Development Ministry.

Opposition parties have sharply criticized the government for the tobacco tender, alleging that Fidesz party members had influenced the process.

Earlier this year, the NTTN was forced to announce a second tender in 1,417 communities from which no applications had been received during the initial tender.