Hungary's new economy minister steps down

Hungary's new economy minister steps downBudapest  - The designated economy minister of Hungary's interim government stepped down on Thursday, a day after local media reported a large fine for anti-competitive practices against his former software company.

Media on Wednesday replayed a decision by Hungarian competition authorities three years ago to fine Vahl's company 690 million forint (over 3 million dollars at the time) for collusion with IBM Hungary in a public tender.

IT manager Tamas Vahl, who led the software company SAP Hungary, resigned saying: "Only by my resignation can I remove this burden from the shoulders of the government of experts being formed."

Vahl, an economics expert, was to have been a member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, who was elected by parliament on Tuesday.

A government spokesman said Bajnai would name a replacement for Vahl within a week.

Former economy minister Bajnai was voted prime minister in a parliamentary vote Tuesday which at the same time expressed no confidence in Ferenc Gyurcsany, voting the socialist premier out of office.

Parliament last week had initiated a constructive vote of no confidence against Gyurcsany with the motion for Tuesday's vote, signed by 92 MPs calling for his replacement by Bajnai.

Immediately after Tuesday's vote, Bajnai - who has no party affiliation - said he would reshuffle the cabinet and bring in experts who were also free of party affiliations to take over the key finance, economy, social welfare and energy ministries.

The Vahl resignation marks the second of Bajnai's cabinet choices not to meet general approval. On Wednesday, the country's security committee rejected the designated minister for oversight of the secret services, Adam Ficsor.

The 29-year-old Ficsor was turned down for symbolic reasons, as he was head of the Gyurcsany cabinet and is considered a close confidant of the previous premier.(dpa)