Prime Minister’s Bill Targets Conflicts of Interest

Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Government officials will have to disclose their financial interests and all lobbyists will be registered as such if a bill recently introduced by the Prime Minister is passed. The bill aims to prevent conflicts of interest among cabinet ministers and other higher-ups in the Icelandic government, Kjarninn reports.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has introduced a bill in parliament, the purpose of which is to “limit as far as possible the impacts of conflict of interest on the jobs of the highest executive authorities working within the government of Iceland.” The bill refers specifically to cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries, secretaries-general, and ambassadors.

The legislation would require all working in the aforementioned positions to state and explain in detail their financial and business interests, as well as those of their spouses and dependent children. Lobbyists who interact with politicians and government administration in that capacity would be required to register as such, a proposal the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) has previously opposed.

Chief government executives and their assistants would not be able to hold other jobs while they were in government and would be banned from working as lobbyists until six months after they stop working in government. They would also not be allowed to “use information the had access to through public service for their own or others’ unreasonable profit.”

If the bill is passed, it will take effect on January 1, 2021.

New Species of Red Algae Discovered in Iceland

Schizymenia jonssonii red algae Iceland

A previously unknown species of red algae or Rhodophyta has been discovered in Iceland. According to a press release from the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, the species was first found just before 1900 on the country’s west coast but was misidentified. It has now been proven to be a formerly unknown species with its closest relatives in the North Pacific.

The algae, which has been named Schizymenia jonssonii in memory of Icelandic phycologist Sigurður Jónsson, is bladelike and can grow to about 35cm (13.7in) long and 10-25cm (3.9-9.8in) wide. It is relatively common near the southwest and west coast of Iceland, along the Northwest peninsula, and has been found at one location along the colder north coast.

“The eastern North Atlantic is probably the best-studied ocean area in the world due to a long history of intensive scientific research in northern Europe,” the press release reads. “It was, therefore, a surprise that this relatively large and conspicuous species had not been identified before.”

MFRI is currently experimenting with growing the algae as a food supplement in collaboration with Hyndla ehf.

Most Flights Cancelled Today

Keflavík Airport

All domestic flights and most international ones have been delayed or cancelled today due to extreme weather across the country. Yellow and orange weather alerts are active across West and North Iceland as well as the Westfjords. Conditions are expected to improve by this evening in Southwest Iceland and tomorrow morning in the rest of the affected regions.

The vast majority of arrivals and departures at Keflavík Airport have been cancelled for the day. Domestic airline Air Iceland Connect has cancelled or delayed all morning flights and will re-evaluate flying conditions at 1.30pm this afternoon.

Gale or severe gale conditions are widespread across the West and North Iceland, with winds ranging from 18-25 metres per second in most of the affected areas. The winds will also bring snow showers to most of the country.