picture of László Parragh

“How many managers does it take to supervise employees at the Chamber of Commerce in order to fulfill a relatively simple data request?” sounds like the start of an odd-sounding and not-very-funny joke, but independent MP Ákos Hadházy unwittingly found out the answer recently.

The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), headed by President László Parragh (pictured), recently organized a conference on something called “digital tourism,” reports 444. The event was funded by MKIK, which had won a 6.4 billion Ft. (US $19.5 million) grant from the EU’s Modern Enterprise Program to put it on.

As Hadházy related on social media, he had asked the chamber for their data on all contracts over half a million forints connected to the program. The opposition politician was not even asking for the non-public contracts themselves, but only for the data about them. In Hadházy’s estimation, procuring this information shouldn’t take much more than simply a few mouse clicks for the body, which is obligatory for all Hungarian companies to join and pay dues to.

However, after several rounds of agreement with the opposition MP about his request for data, the chamber eventually demanded 1.3 million Ft. (US $3,956) for reimbursement of the burdensome work of producing it for him.

Justifying this cost, the Chamber of Commerce claimed that it would take no less than four office clerks three weeks to generate the data. Moreover, the clerks would have to be continually monitored by an additional four managers. The chamber set the hourly wage of the clerks at 2,600 Ft (US $7.91), and the chamber managers supervising them at 6,000 Ft (US $18.25).

“It is important to say that the MKIK (and the Chamber of Agriculture, which operates in a similar way) is useless in its current form and only good for its executives, who unconditionally support the government so that they can spend money they get from it on who knows what,” wrote Hadházy wrote in his post.

When the opposition gets into power, the MP added, “we absolutely have to end mandatory membership in these chambers.”

[444]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.