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2 Jun 2017

Stefánia Kapronczay, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, TASZ (in Budapest Business Journal)

NGO law Affects Business too, TASZ Warns

The director of a Hungarian NGO says she wants businesses to stand up for civil society rights..."A strong civil society is an indicator for stability in a country: The UN Special rapporteur, Maina Kiai has found that the presence of a robust, vocal and critical civil society sector guarantees, almost without exception, that a state also possesses a good business environment," says Stefánia Kapronczay, executive director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, TASZ...the draft Bill on the Transparency of Organizations Financed from Abroad would force NGOs that receive more than HUF 7.2 million annually from a foreign source to register as a "foreign-supported organization"..."This is really talking about the issues we represent; we represent people, mostly the people of Hungary. Some others represent migrants and refugees, but I think you can also serve the rights of Hungarian people by protecting the rule of law and the interests of the whole country. That is something that can be common ground with the business community."...

Kapronczay says the logic of the rhetoric behind the bill impacts foreign multinationals. "It says foreign funding is against the interests of Hungary. Many companies here are foreign funded, so what does it mean to them? And many companies have CSR programs to fund civil groups, so is that frowned upon? These are very direct consequences," insists Kapronczay. "What we would like to see from the business community is it taking a clear stance for these values.... NGOs are standing up for the values of the European Union, such as rule of law, which businesses operating in EU countries also benefit from. In my opinion, it is important that business also stands up for these, not only the free movement of capital. Moreover, standing up for values like human rights and democracy can have added value, because the customers who care about this do tend to have more money," she argues. "Our organizations stand up for a fully independent judiciary; that is not only important for human rights, but also for resolving business disputes. It protects businesses from corruption and cronyism."