The Government of Iceland presented its 2013-2015 investment strategy at a press conference yesterday, to which ISK 34 billion (USD 265 million, EUR 208 million) is to be contributed in addition to the budget. Among industries that will benefit from the strategy are filmmaking and tourism.
Funding has been secured for the first stage of the strategy through dividends from financial institutions; ISK 10 billion is to be invested in projects in 2013, RÚV reports.
“We consider it natural that dividends that we’re receiving from financial institutions won’t go directly into the state’s operations but rather to projects that are in growth,” commented Minister of Finance Katrín Júlíusdóttir.
The goal of the investment plan is to create jobs and support growing industries; ISK 1.41 billion (USD 11 million, EUR 9 million) will go towards the Icelandic Film Fund, for example.
Vice-chair of the Social Democrats Dagur B. Eggertsson explained on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós that creative industries that are in growth and have the potential to grow further will be supported through the investment strategy.
The government is also investing in the infrastructure of tourism. Capital will go towards the Development Fund for Travel Destinations to develop tourism projects around the country and to take necessary measures in locations considered too crowded by tourists, national parks and sensitive areas, Dagur elaborated.
ISK 2.5 billion is to be spent on tourism projects. There have been active discussions lately about the accessibility and sustainability of various areas in light of the growing popularity of Iceland as a travel destination.
Dagur also mentioned that companies that are environmentally friendly or are striving towards that goal will enjoy support from the state, as part of a new policy called ‘The Green Economy.’ ISK 3.53 billion will be invested in making the economy greener.
Other projects that will benefit from the investment plan include a new prison on Hólmsheiði, to which ISK 2.5 billion will be attributed, and ISK 2.14 billion is to be spent on ferry transport between the Icelandic mainland and the Westman Islands.
However, the investment strategy has undergone amendments since it was first presented last spring, when the total amount to be spent on investments was ISK 39 billion.
Two projects have been postponed: maintenance of state-owned real estates and contributions to the equity of the Housing Financing Fund.
The opposition generally welcomes new investments initiated by the government but criticizes the timing of the launch of the investment strategy.
The Social Democrat primary is starting today and with the parliamentary election coming up in the spring, the three-year plan will tie the hands of a new government, they argue.