Icelandic MP Unhappy With Appearance in Panama Papers Film

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson.

Being wrongfully implicated in the Panama Papers scandal in a recently-released Netflix film has been “painful and unbearable” according to Progressive Party Chairman Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson. A picture of the MP appears in the film The Laundromat, which was released on Netflix this past weekend, in connection with the Panama Papers. Sigurður Ingi himself did not appear in the Panama Papers. Then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð, however, did, and Sigurður Ingi took over as Prime Minister following Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s resignation in the wake of the scandal.

According to Vísir, The Laundromat features a screenshot of a Time article which reports that Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has resigned due to his name appearing in the Panama Papers. The article’s headline states that Sigurður Ingi has taken over the position and a picture of him appears with the article. No picture of Sigmundur Davíð appears in the film.

In a Facebook post about his unexpected appearance, Sigurður Ingi expresses his disappointment that his picture appears amid a discussion of “corrupt national leaders. As is undoubtedly fresh in people’s memory, the course of events was such that when then-Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð’s assets came to light in Mossack Fonseca’s tax havens, he was forced to resign. These were difficult times in Icelandic politics and Icelanders full of righteous anger and therefore a great challenge to sit in the Prime Minister’s chair,” Sigurður Ingi wrote. “Although I find it painful and unbearable to be connected to this corruption case in The Laundromat, the film will hardly be changed because of that.”

The MP thanked those who had written to him about the film, stating that some had even written to Netflix of their own accord to complain about Sigurður Ingi’s misrepresentation in the film.

Seal Hunting Ban in the Works in Iceland

seal

A ban on seal hunting in Icelandic waters could soon become a reality. The Ministry of Industries and Innovation published a draft of the proposed legislation online last Friday. The hunting ban would apply to all seal species, particularly the two that breed in Iceland: harbour seals and grey seals.

The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) send a letter to the Ministry of Industries and Innovation last summer following an assessment on the size of harbour seal stocks in the country. Research shows that the number of harbour seals has decreased greatly since 1980. According to experts, Iceland’s harbour seal stock should ideally number at least 12,000 individuals, but is currently around 21% lower. The Institute has thus proposed a direct ban on harbour seal hunting. It has also proposed ways to combat harbour seals landing in fishing nets as by-catch.

As for grey seals, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Iceland’s stocks are considered vulnerable. The Marine and Freshwater Institute has proposed a direct ban on hunting of the species, as well as requiring the registration of any hunting that is excepted from such a ban.

The MFRI believes the economic impact of banning seal hunting would be negligible, as the practice has been on the decline in Iceland for many years. Icelandic residents have until November 4 to send in comments on the proposal.

National Hospital Needs Additional ISK 1 Billion for Wage Hikes

Emergency room

The National Hospital of Iceland needs ISK 1 billion ($8m/€7.2m) in additional government funding to pay out salaries decided upon in previous wage agreements, RÚV reports. The Parliamentary Budget Committee is discussing how to address the issue. If more funding isn’t provided, say hospital representatives, it will be necessary to cut services or run the hospital with a deficit.

Ebba Margrét Magnúsdóttir, chairperson of the hospital’s doctors’ council, says the government undercalculated the hospital’s funding following the signing of recent wage agreements. According to information from the hospital, an additional ISK 500 million ($4m/€3.6m) in funding is needed per year to pay out wage increases laid out in doctors’ 2017 collective agreement. Double that amount is needed to address agreed-upon wage increases of all medical staff at the hospital.

Restructuring

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir stated that although ensuring healthcare funding over the long term is important, “we also need to organise it better,” and suggested the government’s new health care policy would play a part in addressing funding.

The National Hospital of Iceland has already undergone significant restructuring in order to address its operational deficit. Directorial positions at the hospital have been reduced, and nurses’ and midwifes’ shift premiums have been cut. According to Ebba, however, these are measures the hospital shouldn’t have to take. “The people on the floor have pretty much had enough,” she stated.