Questions to the narrator
- 00:12Why did you decide to set up a business of your own?
- 00:28What, tell us about this boiler you invented?
- 00:54Can you tell us about how trying to help an old lady repair her boiler was one of the things that brought you into being a private businessman?
- 03:13In general, like companies in the state sector, in the sort of same area you’re in, are they, how efficient are they compared to your sort of company?
- 04:57Can you briefly give me one or two examples of the problems you have had as a businessman, with the local bureaucracy?
- 06:34Can you tell us about the time you were investigated by government authorities?
- 09:21What’s it like to be a businessman, a private businessman in Hungary today?
- 10:35Do you think the party really wants to encourage and support private businessmen like yourself?
TranscriptPlease note that this transcript is based on audio tracks and doesn't have to match exactly the video
Why did you decide to set up a business of your own?
There are many reasons. Amongst others, because I did not find what I was looking for within the state sector.
What, tell us about this boiler you invented?
This boiler, really, was developed to suit the all-time needs of the coal that can be found in Hungary, which is not of first-class quality and calorific value but this boiler was going to burn this coal to its best ability, to cater for the all-time needs.
Can you tell us about how trying to help an old lady repair her boiler was one of the things that brought you into being a private businessman?
With pleasure. So, this was not a boiler, but a hot water cylinder used in bathrooms. So, what happened was that here, in Gyöngyös, I had to visit 24 Petőfi Street, still working for the state firm as a supervisor, and had to estimate what state of repair this hot water cylinder was, after a request for repairs was lodged. I established that this fault, unfortunately, was not the result of simple wear and tear, but it was caused by the elderly lady, whose bathroom it was in. So, then I told her that for 250 forints, this happened a long time ago, when 250 forints was a lot of money, somebody will put it right for her. I gave the old lady somebody’s visiting card, belonging to one of the private repairmen. I was financially interested in this myself, to be absolutely honest, because I was paid 50 forints for each repair job I sent to this private repair business. After this, the old lady started to wail, that she gets 360 forints as disability, old-age pension, so then for a whole month she won’t be able either to eat, or to have a bath. So, I took pity on her, and, as I was entitled to, I gave her a claimant for a new hot water cylinder, which was duly installed, but the managing director realised that I authorized to change a hot water cylinder after only 3 years of use, and he accused me of receiving back-handed payment. Although, truth be told, I even left 50 forints with the old lady, not my payment from the private repairman, but my own 50 forints. So I was deducted 1500 forints so-called ‘mobility allowance’, I used to use my own car, or buses and taxis, to go checking these calls, as I was responsible for the equipment in the town. So, basically, this was which made me decide that certain leading figures are not exactly at the moral height of their position. But these people were in minority, who then happened to be heads of firms.
In general, like companies in the state sector, in the sort of same area you’re in, are they, how efficient are they compared to your sort of company?
About one and a half, two years ago, with the intention of selling my boilers within Hungary, and for selling the technology, I needed four factories to manufacture all my products. Because of this my lady colleague and I visited 240 Hungarian firms, so I have quite a wide experience of what is the situation with Hungarian companies. It has to be said that there are very good and honest experts, and very good and honest workers. All they would need is some incentive to interest them in being more productive. These firms, in my experience, also have the right conditions to compete, in my opinion, with any other company in the world. I can see only one problem, that in many, many companies not the right managers are in the right positions. At the same time, our foreign trade organizations somehow have the monopoly, while individual companies should have independent foreign trading rights, those that have direct interest in the sale of their goods under correct circumstances, anywhere in the world. In these two fields, the managers themselves are not exactly standing at the peak of professionalism, and at the same time, the link that should pass Hungarian goods onto the world market, I somehow think there it is not the most appropriate.
Can you briefly give me one or two examples of the problems you have had as a businessman, with the local bureaucracy?
Within Hungary the old laws still operate. The spirit of these old laws, the possibilities allowed by these old laws, are not exactly good foundations for today’s needs, and for the faster exchange of goods, in other words, business trade and business possibilities. Just because of this, the narrow possibilities allowed for by the law create an awful lot of obstacles for the person wanting some in other words, they are obstructive. How are they being obstructive? First of all the officials themselves, whom you have to come up against if you want to do something, and want something new, the officials will reject it out of hand. Why do they reject it? Because they do not know themselves what should be done, and they are too lazy to make enquiries from higher authorities what to do in that given situation, so they rather reject it out of hand. So, then if someone goes around them as I tried to by-pass the system, that has many, many consequences, a great deal of difficulty, irregularity and even skirting the edges of illegal actions could be involved, if you really wanted to achieve something.
Can you tell us about the time you were investigated by government authorities?
Well, to tell the truth this whole mix-up started 5 or 6 years ago, when in Esztergom, the leaders of the Esztergom council officially appointed me to renovate a sports hall. To be precise I had to do all the building engineering work, but in the meantime, because of my personal contacts, and because of jobs I have done earlier, they asked me to help out the council with all other aspects the job entailed. We finished all the work at the sports hall in 4 to 5 months, work that has been left unfinished for 10 years, because the company that had overall responsibility for the renovation had to be disbanded for other reasons, in other words, it was liquidated. We finished all the work at the sports hall, then I was given the freedom of the city, I was given a certificate and a certain sum of money with it, which was left there, as it paid for the cocktail party. The important part of this is, that all the leaders of the county were at this cocktail party, amongst others members the county leaders of the Central People’s Supervisory Commission who immediately decided to start to investigate how this sports hall was realized, as it appeared odd to them that a small, private organization carried out this job that was worth millions of forints, which, compared to the earlier, ten years earlier, costing was 10 to 15 million forints in access. But of course, ten years have passed since the earlier estimate, and, in real terms, our work was less expensive than the original price. The result was that the work lasted 4 to 5 months, and I had to visit certain authorities for two years for them to clear up exactly what has happened. The only other thing that has to be mentioned is that I took 14 craftsmen with me to work there, I was the only one left who stayed in the private sector for a while, and all the others had their permit for running a private business withdrawn, all sorts of criminal charges were brought against them. Later on, because of the many visits to different offices and for being constantly interviewed I threw a typewriter, complete with writing paper through a closed window at the office of the Central People’s Supervisory Commission, and because of this they brought up the excuse that ten years earlier I was practising my trade without the necessary permit, so two years after the sports hall was finished, my permit was withdrawn. So, finishing the job at the sports hall in four months cost me my permit, and I still have my letters that once, when I fell ill, the work on the sports hall came to a halt.
What’s it like to be a businessman, a private businessman in Hungary today?
Today, I can happily say, the situation is different. Three or four years ago something happened amongst our leaders in high positions, something changed, and I think that they really want to help all those people, who want to do something. Consider my situation. What’s been happening in the last three to four years cannot even be compared, and the helpful attitude, not of the local authorities, in other words, amongst the less important, local leaders, but higher up the ladder something has happened, and I think, they saw the vision of how worthwhile it would be to help those people who want to do something by regulations, or by individual permits, or by special permits, not only by tax incentives, but, by other relaxation of principles. I am also in this situation myself, that my possibilities became limitless, and I think I put more hard currency, and much more besides onto the Hungarian state’s table. I can thank the different attitudes of today’s leaders for this.
Do you think the party really wants to encourage and support private businessmen like yourself?
Naturally, I think they do, what’s more I am experiencing it myself, as, I have just said, four, five, no, maybe it has not been that long, three, four years ago something happened, and they discovered the possibility, that the success of the individual has to be brought to the surface, and then the possibilities of the whole collective state will increase. I think the school I would like to set up for the education of inventors and entrepreneurs, just in this place, it will be absolutely free but will cost us 10 million forints per year, they gave permission for it and are supporting both the idea, and the practice, so I think the school will be able to start this September.
Morvai Ferenc (1946)
Ferenc Morvai, businessman, inventor and politician, was born on October 22, 1946 in Nagyréde. His parents were poor farmers, taking care of him and his three brothers. He had three children from two marriages.
He finished primary school in Nagyréde. He began his secondary school studies in Esztergom, then from 1962 to 1964 he attended the Ferenc Erkel Industrial Training Institute No. 214 of Gyöngyös and passed the vocational examination for water and heating installation. He later graduated from the engineering department of a night school with a degree in mechanical engineering, and then obtained a secondary qualification in security technology.
From 1968 to 1971 he worked for the Heves County State Construction Company, and from 1972 to 1974 he was employed by the real estate management company in Gyöngyös. He was fired from the real estate management company for political reasons and became a private entrepreneur. Eighteen of his patents are related to heating systems and boilers.
In 1989, he established Megamorv Ltd., which employed more than two hundred people; he managed his company as an executive. He went bankrupt due to the austerity measures of the Bokros package, liquidated his business, and only wanted to deal with politics from then on. In 1989, he took part in the organization of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, he also supported it financially, but did not join the party. In 1989, the Petőfi research in Siberia was launched, he was the main organizer of it and provided significant financial support, and became the head of the National Petőfi Committee.
In November 1993, in order to protect the interests of the citizens and for the joint actions of politicians and citizens working for a real regime change in the interests of Hungary, he established the Citizens' Advocacy Association. He joined the Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party in 1994, and this year he won a parliamentary mandate from the tenth place on the Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party’s national list.
After four years of parliamentary work, he returned to the business world, restarted his boiler plant after ten years of liquidation and litigation, and was twice nominated for an Innovation Grand Prize for his latest invention: energy production from sewage sludge and oil sludge.