March 8, 2016 / 3:14 PM / 4 years ago

Hungarian lawmaker criticises law concealing data from some central bank units

BUDAPEST, March 8 (Reuters) - A second Hungarian lawmaker has criticised a new law that declares some assets handled by units of the National Bank of Hungary are not public funds, saying it reduces transparency for how those funds are handled.

Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz, pushed a bill through parliament last week that limits public access to the financial data of companies owned by the central bank, such as the Budapest Stock Exchange.

Gergely Gulyas, head of parliament’s legislative committee and a member of Fidesz, said on Tuesday those assets constitute public funds, becoming the second senior public official in a week to criticise the new law. Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover also disapproved of it.

The central bank, run by Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy, has set up six educational foundations, funding them with about 245 billion forints ($872.63 million) in 2014. It also partly or wholly owns business units such as the stock exchange, in which it bought a majority stake last November.

The amended law says the foundations were fully controlled by their curators, hence their assets “no longer qualified as public.”

“What else would it be?” Gulyas said.

Nevertheless, Gulyas, as a member of Fidesz, voted for the new law.

“Given that this was a decision made by the parliamentary group, I voted in favour, regardless of whether I like this or not,” Gulyas said.

Hungarian President Janos Ader could decide within days whether to approve the amended law. He also has the power to forward the legislation to the Constitutional Court for scrutiny. Ader’s office declined comment on when he will make his decision. ($1 = 280.76 forints) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, editing by Larry King)

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