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The Icelandic government presents its new super-duper budget proposal

SDG og BBYesterday the Icelandic government presented its first budget proposal of this election term.

Here are the highlights:

  • Reduction in the “fishing fee” – the tax the fisheries moguls* must pay into the common coffers
  • Reduction in the “accommodation tax” – a nominal fee that the previous government had placed on the booming tourism industry
  • Reduction in the tax on electric power that heavy industry must pay [power that it already gets at a massively reduced rate]
  • Reduction in subsidized heating for homes in areas that cannot utilize geothermal energy
  • Abolition of subsidies for transport of goods to rural areas [making it even more difficult to  live outside of Reykjavík]
  • Reduction in funds for the purchase of needed medical equipment for the National University Hospital
  • Implementation of inpatient fees – a charge for each night spent in hospital
  • Cuts in allocations to universities
  • Increase in the “registration fee” at the University of Iceland [effectively a tuition fee] by 25%
  • Abolition of plans to lengthen maternity leave from nine months to twelve
  • Cuts in allocations for the arts, including a cut of ISK 335 million to the Icelandic Film Centre [the film industry being one of the most up-and-coming industries in Iceland at this time *headdesk*]
  • Substantial cuts in allocations for the Office of the Special Prosecutor [no surprise]
  • … in addition to the usual suspects, such as higher fees on alcohol/tobacco etc.

On the upside:

  • More funding for the police [ISK 500 million additionally]
  • ISK 35 million additionally to combat organized crime
  • Slight reduction in the “insurance fee” that businesses must pay, and which is effectively hidden income tax

So, yeah. Not exactly stellar.

The most contested among these is undoubtedly the new fee for inpatients – for the first time people must pay for each night they spend in hospital, a charge of ISK 1.200. Which may be not such a huge deal for people who are working and relatively healthy, but which can be disastrous for chronically ill patients, to say nothing of the mentally ill. In fact, it is such a f*cked up notion that one begins to suspect whether they just stuck it in there so they can later remove it and hold that up as an example of their gentleness and compassion for the ill and infirm.

No, really. You have to wonder.

* Needless to say, perhaps, these are the folks who back the coalition parties financially. 

[pic borrowed here]

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  • Michael October 2, 2013, 1:48 pm

    No, certainly not stellar and I do wonder …!? Sounds a bit like helplessness after lots of promises. Obviously, more austerity and no investment. RUV it seems wasn’t cut but gains modestly ? … and a tax (if legal?) on the old banks compensates for losses in the moguls’ fisheries taxes leaving me to wonder how the creditors will react.

  • Katharine Kroeber October 2, 2013, 3:43 pm

    How do we ensure that *no one* gives these a$$hats any new clothing for Christmas, so the Christmas Cat will eat them? 🙁

  • Katharine Kroeber October 2, 2013, 3:51 pm

    Sadly, it doesn’t sound helpless at all to me. It sounds cold and calculated and greedy.
    About 25 years ago I was reading of cattle-barons in some South American countries. It had been shown their their methods of cattle-raising would destroy the land. (Let alone the destruction caused by creating grazing land in the first place.) They could expect about 20 years of good grazing that would make for solid cattle, and then the land would start to give out and it would be all down-hill from there. It was not sustainable, and would in fact be a disaster. These guys shrugged and didn’t care… because their plan was to reap the big rewards in those 20 years, sell out to others, and *leave the country* to live comfortably elsewhere and leave the disaster to their former countrymen to suffer with. And guess what? That’s exactly what they’ve done. Their actions weren’t the result of ignorance, they were calculated. (And in my book, calculated *theft*.) I look at the smirking faces in power in Iceland, and I see the same damn thing. It’s not like they didn’t know what they were doing when they broke the economy, after all. I wish I could be more upbeat, but I can’t. 🙁

  • Michael October 2, 2013, 6:21 pm

    @Katherine one: Good question but I wouldn’t know the answer. Don’t try and smear them with Hákarl because all cats would decline.
    Ps.: What is a X-mas Cat anyway ?

    @Katherine two: Trust we agree. But once an “elite” turns democracy into a plutocracy into a cleptocracy only the people could send them to the Bastille. The paradox is that the people just voted for that same “elite”!?
    Ps.: We’d have to look at the Bastille because the new budget just put construction of a new prison on halth and cut the budget of the SPO.

  • Katharine Kroeber October 2, 2013, 6:54 pm

    @ Michael:
    Jólakötturinn (“the Yule [Christmas] cat”)is the pet of the giantess/troll Grylla (the mom of the 13 naughty Yule Lads), a giant black cat. Grylla looks for children to eat; supposedly if one isn’t given at least one piece of new clothing for Christmas, you will get eaten by jólakötturinn. A couple years ago Jón Gnarr said he wanted to find the largest cat in Iceland to put on display in the Reykjavík Zoo at Yuletide as jólakötturinn.

  • hildigunnur October 2, 2013, 10:20 pm

    I could cry.

    not that I expected anything better, though.

  • dinahmow October 2, 2013, 10:25 pm

    All around the world, the rabid right…

  • Mirra Sjöfn October 2, 2013, 10:54 pm

    Don’t forget the best part of it all, the are reducing fundings to the church (ISK 45 million a year) … !!

  • Katharine Kroeber October 2, 2013, 11:37 pm

    @hildigunnur — you’re right, it was to be expected. But it’s still awful seeing it in print. Anything that helps the general populace and builds up society, that gets cut. Anything that benefits a rich-empowered few, that gets boosted. And people actually voted these robbers in. Sigh. Weep.

  • Rakel October 2, 2013, 11:46 pm

    Reducing funds to the church? I thought it was quite the opposite. That they were taking our money and giving to the church.

  • Mirra Sjöfn October 7, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Yes they are giving the church 45 millions more than before.