Lord mayor of the City of London offers some advice to Hungary

09-07-2004

Britain wants to improve its presence in Hungary - that was the message behind a visit by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Robert Finch to Budapest last week. Alderman Finch opened several business seminars and launched the days trading on the Budapest Stock Exchange.

His visit coincided with a new survey which says Hungary has the least corruption in central Europe. Gyorgyi Jakobi asked Robert Finch: having reduced corruption, what's next for Hungary?

"You've got to get your deficit down, you've got to get convergence organised. And they agreed yesterday I think in Brussels that they would see a converging economy in order for your aspirations to join the euro. There's no reason why you can't do it.

"And as for corruption, yes, I've head that too. In order to succeed in getting international capital into a country like Hungary, you've absolutely got to have a fair playing field; you've got to have complete transparency, and sensible corporate governance. As soon as corruption gets in the way you will not stand as good a chance as other countries."

There is an ongoing Hungarian festival in the UK called "Magyar Magic", which is a mainly cultural festival which will last until November. Do you think it is helping Hungary to be better known among UK citizens?

"I do think, and it's a message I can give to the mayor, or the deputy mayor, when I see him, I do think if you compare the marketing effort of Prague against the marketing effort of Hungary, and the attraction of Budapest compared to Prague, Prague are way ahead. Why is that?"

Why is that?

"Well, you don't spend time and effort enough - I'm not saying you don't spend time and effort, but I think there are even more means by which you can tell a wonderful story. You've got a wonderful city here and you've got good hotels. You need to sort out your marketing strategy.

"At the same you've got to get access for tourism into Hungary, by accession into Budapest airport of some of the low-cost airlines. For instance I believe it costs 30 pounds to get to Prague, but 150 pounds to get to Budapest. You've got to sort that out."

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