No apology — Hungarian pensions delayed due to “glitch”

It would be a tad hypocritical to lambaste the Hungarian government from across the pond in Canada, for what appears to have been a technical glitch resulting in a delay in pension and various social solidarity disbursements. Canadian readers will recall the Phoenix payroll debacle. Tens of thousands of federal civil servants were underpaid, not paid at all or in some cases overpaid and the chaos dragged on for months. In Hungary, pensioners were to have their pensions deposited in their bank accounts early in the day last Friday. Many pensioners, however, went through the weekend without any funds. According to a report in, some elderly Hungarians are still without their pensions as of Monday afternoon. The Hungarian Treasury claims that electronic payments were sent on 11 January 2019 and the cause of the delay appears to be a technical glitch somewhere in the system. These sorts of mishaps can happen and usually they can be rectified relatively painlessly. But what is rather so typical for the Orbán regime is their singular inability to apologize, take any responsibility and demonstrate even a flicker of empathy.

A Hungarian pensioner.

The delay in the disbursements of pensions at this time of year caused hardship for many Hungarians, as the last pension payment was sent out forty days ago, on 3 December, and of course the Christmas holidays and the heating season brought with it increased expenses. Mrs. Györgyi Némethné, President of the National Alliance of Hungarian Pensioner Associations, noted that nobody from the government has accepted responsibility, nor demonstrated any understanding at all of the difficulties that the delay caused for tens of thousands of Hungarians on modest fixed incomes. As of late 2018, the average Hungarian pension stands at roughly 134,000 forints per month (approximately C$634).

The Democratic Coalition (DK) has called on the government, and specifically Minister of Finance Mihály Varga and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to issue an apology to pensioners and give a fulsome explanation of what went wrong. DK recommended that a Monday press conference would have been the ideal venue for such an apology and explanation. No such press event took place and no apology was forthcoming from the government.

While the delay in pension disbursements adversely impacted tens of thousands of Hungarians and made headline news Friday and Saturday, Hungary’s public broadcaster, now nothing more than the explicit propaganda wing of the ruling Fidesz party, decided that this was not newsworthy at all. In the hour-long Saturday evening news broadcast, the M1 television channel had nothing to say about the payment problem. Instead, the talking heads reported on the following far more important news items:

  • With whom in the world George Soros has held meetings recently, and how many times;
  • What Member of the European Parliament Tamás Deutsch thinks of the people that George Soros is meeting and how many times they are meeting;
  • A live report from a Hungarian ski slope.

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