Procurement in Times of Corona – Part 1

  • December 27, 2021
  • István

Before I start with the topic, I want to return for a moment to the topic I covered in Gambled Away. Up to now there was always a reason to build a new stadium, no matter whether there protests of citizens or there was no money for the important things a state has to pay for, or how useless it has been. Now during the holidays the arena, planned for a 2nd class club in Pécs, has been cancelled ►HU! Things must be really bad!

Public procurement is a structural problem since Orbán took power. Bad enough we got used to the fact that corruption is part of our lives and our taxes as well as EU funds are not used for the benefit of the people, but to the benefit of the elite ruling our country. But as always Orbán decided to prove that he can do worse and in the pandemic he went into a higher gear.

We all might remember the purchase of 16 863 ventilators at inflated prices, whereof we still don’t know exactly how many arrived in Hungary at which time. 13 404 should be in storage ►HU last June for monthly costs of 15 000 000 Forint (40 700 €), 3 288 distributed. During the 3rd wave were the most Hungarians using ventilators, about 1 530. This means that in fact the more than 2 000 ventilators already in Hungary before the pandemic were enough. Of course it is better to be prepared, better to have all hospitals to be equipped at the maximum of their individual need than transporting material or even patients, but 16 863 is completely out of all proportions, especially since the worst case scenario expected not more than 8 500 totally needed ventilators. Germany planned to double the intensive care units if needed, Hungary bought ventilators for eight times more. Not to forget the extremely bad prices Hungary paid. Direkt36 has shown with data based on Eurostat import statistics ►EN comparing the weight and price of imported goods that Hungary has imported a only a little less weight than the Netherlands, while Germany imported nearly twice that freight. However, Hungary paid more than 15 times more than Germany, although they imported twice of their goods, the Dutch paid about half the German value, which is pretty fair seen the fact that they bought half the weight only. So effectively Hungary paid roughly 30 times more per kilogram than Germany or the Netherlands did. Of course there is a difference between the quality of goods.

Just before the holidays direkt36 published a very interesting article about the quality of the ventilators purchased ►EN. There were ventilators that started smoking when connected to the grid, others were not brought to work at all, some hospitals decided it would be the best to leave them in storage, others just open another box when a ventilator doesn’t function. It was already in May 2020 clear to the responsible authority that the ventilators bought are mostly useless. Some can’t be used by wrong connectors for oxygen and vacuum – and missing adapters. Even the ventilator regarded as the best choice among those bought by the regime has controversies in the manual and needed software problems to be solved. Usable, but not good an expert said.

But not only the quality of the ventilators was terrible bad, the conditions of the purchase were as well. While other public purchases included the usual measures to guarantee usability and a warranty, a penalty if not met and so on, the purchases made by foreign affairs lacked these conditions, payment in advance, including waiving penalties for defect machines. From a jeweller company ventilators were bought with only mentioning the brand Shangrila. One contract clearly stated that the product is missing CE certification for technical safety, which makes import into the EU illegal. Maintenance? There are contracts stating that no maintenance is available in Europe.

It is typical for products coming from China that some are good and many are crap. Obviously medical equipment is no exception on this rule. The UK bought Shangrila 510 ventilators (remember, the jeweller sold the Shangrila brand as well, type 510 arrived in Hungary as well) and in opposite to Hungary the NHS tested the ventilators before use and decided not to use them at all, because the life of the patients could be at risk. The Guardian reported ►EN already in April 2020 about this fact and in Hungary this has been hidden until now.

It took also half a year to reveal that there were Hungarian companies involved in the most shady deals, the company with the worst deal had direct connections to the centre of power ►HU. This company had a 216 times higher turnover in 2020 and the profits exploded from 47 000 000 Forint in 2019 onto a bit over 17 000 000 000 Forint (from 128 000 € to 46 195 000 €,) more than a third of the turnover! 90 % of the profit has been paid to the owners, 13.8 billion alone to a single private person. Now this company is in liquidation ►HU. Other companies saw such an explosion of profit ►HU as well, all with a return on sales beyond imagination. The ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade did not reveal all information in the accounts of 2020, there is an amount of 517 billion Forint (1.4 billion Euro) left out, the purchase of ventilators is not included in the accounts, although paid on expense of the ministry ►HU. The missing amount is about 72 % higher than the earlier known amount of 300 billion.

How does the government solve the problem with the unused and unusable ventilators? Everywhere minister Szijjártó flies to he tries to give the country a couple of ventilators as present to dispose them. Last August he even travelled to Mongolia with 3 planes, one Airbus was used for transporting his present of 33 ventilators ►HU.

The other remarkable procurement of the Orbán regime is the vaccine procurement. The newest developments in part 2.

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December 27, 2021 13:20

So nothing has changed in the almost 60 years since my wife started to work in the önkormanyzat. The stories she tells …
Corruption seems to be a Hungarian way of life.
What could nave been done with all this money to shut at least some of the holes in the abominable health system?
I pity and of course admire the people working there in horrible conditions.
And now we’re waiting for the next wave of Covid.
The level of vaccination in Hungary still seems to be one of the lowest in the EU – is there no way to make people understand?
And don’t mention the number of deaths …

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
December 27, 2021 16:23

Leaving aside the on going corruption of Fidesz and Orban which most of us know about. I feel compelled to turning to Magyar Nemzet” prediction today of the demise of what is now called Unity for Hungary the name apparently adopted for the opposition and endorsed by Péter Márki-Zay. Needless to say the name Unity was used as a theme by Magyar Nemzet in its article today ( The Fidesz media goes on and on about the disunity in the opposition, and Péter Márki-Zay provides plenty of ammunition for Fidesz. Most of what Magyar Nemzet uses comes from a radio discussion in which Péter Márki-Zay appeared on the morning program of Spirit FM on December 21st. The next day Péter Márki-Zay said similar things on the ATV program Straight Talk which became the focus of a Telex article ( 

Péter Márki-Zay who has lived in the USA and saw how the media here destroys politicians who put out accusations without providing evidence, surely is aware that it can happen in Hungary too. When Telex and Magyar Nemzet agree on some fundamental aspects of a critique of Péter Márki-Zay, there is trouble ahead. 

Telex transcribed some of the ATV discussion which I found more amazing reading it rather than watching it. Part of it focused on the opposition poll that was leaked to Here it is, his ATV interviewer notes Márki-Zay has said there are traitors in the opposition. She then asks directly: “Are you waiting for them to be active? Why don’t you come up with names?” Márki-Zay replies “We are not going to commit collective suicide now. I would add, it is not me who will come up with names, they will come out when Fidesz presses the button and activates them. Anyone who slams this ship down, in which we all sit, does so for the sake of Fidesz.” Interviewer: “Do you have names?” Márki-Zay: “Of course, I see signs like that, of course. And I want these people to think a lot about what they’re doing. Because this country does not have four more years to fill opposition ranks with MPs who are having a great time in opposition ranks … The end of the world is that if Fidesz gets four years now.” Interviewer “Did you talk to them?” Márki-Zay: ”I’ve talked to someone, they’re talking to someone in the press, I don’t care. It’s not my job to take care of each traitor personally, but to try to keep this team together and get him to victory.” (my translation of transcription by Telex)

It appears based on this interview at least Márki-Zay is implying that the “traitors” could be elected opposition MPs. His entire interview relating to the so called fake poll and traitors is totally undisciplined and just opens up more and more nightmares for the opposition. It has become very clear that Márki-Zay does not sit down with a team of media advisers prior to talking, he just babbles away. It seems obvious he could have discounted the poll in many other ways rather than claiming it is the work of Fidesz operatives inside the opposition it self. Indeed if he is not bullshitting and there are Fidesz operatives inside the opposition who are too important to expose because it could be a form of collective suicide for his campaign the situation is dire. 

December 28, 2021 00:45

Thanks Istvan for carrying on! Really appreciated. Frequent reader of Hungarian Spectrum, I am happy to see that We will still see news from Hungary in English… I never did comment on HS (lack of time) but as regular reader of Hungarian news, I hope I will be able to provide some input through comments. Thanks again Istvan and thanks to Eva for all the work done during these years. Sadly, I never took the time to thank her while she was still amongst us 😞

December 28, 2021 08:56

Quite fascinating story. The fact that not only the Hungarian government bought equipment without even testing it but that they even went as far as giving up on any form of real warranty or maintenance is astounding. Amateurism at the highest level but what can you expect with such a corrupt regime where loyalty is the condition to get an official position, not competence or even having the proper qualification.

December 28, 2021 21:06

Totally OT:
Is it my fault or something’s wrong/been changed on the site?
I have problems logging in

December 28, 2021 22:23
Reply to  István

Thanks, István, seems it was my mistake.
And again thanks for the chance to discuss what’s going on in Hungary, even if it doesn’t look too good and it seems that too many people just don’t care anymore.
But we have to see and hope this will change as we get nearer to the elections..
The good news:
My wife says she has the feeling that Fidesz is going crazy already, spending even more on stupid propaganda and that might have an inverse effect on people.