Orban bows to pressure to kick "mega offices" into long grass (adds state secretary reaction)
<p>Budapest, September 3 (MTI) - Viktor Orban, Hungary s prime minister, has bowed to pressure from several of his ministers and decided to ditch a plan to merge several government offices as part of a reform of public administration, according to national dailies on Friday.</p>
State secretary in charge of public administration and elections Erika Szabo told MTI that the plan to set up local government offices in counties was not in danger. The decision to set up the government offices has been made and the list of bodies to be integrated has been "clarified" but "some agreement that has yet to be made", she said, declining to reveal any further details.
The original plan was to fuse 16 branches of the government, a move which has the support of Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter and Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, but which is vigorously opposed by the five other members of the Fidesz-led centre-right cabinet, according to Nepszabadsag and Magyar Nemzet.
So-called county government offices are to appear from January 1 next year and the 16 branches of government such as the health fund and the public health authority were to have been integrated into the new system. They will now continue to operate as stand-alone organisations, the papers said.
The dissenting ministers were worried that the reform, aimed at creating efficiencies and saving money, would cause serious disruptions to public services.