The Ministry of Finance’s budget department has issued harsh criticism of Fisheries Minister Jón Bjarnason’s new bill on changes to the fishing quota system—their evaluation states that the bill may be at odds with the Icelandic Constitution.
Icelandic trawlers. Photo by Bjarni Brynjólfsson.
The quota bill which Bjarnason has submitted to parliament is in two parts. The larger covers extensive changes to the fisheries control system, while the smaller concentrates on the increase of the fishing permit fee from almost ISK 3 billion to 5, ruv.is reports.
The latter also discusses how the fishing permit should be allocated, among other resources through a new system called byggdarpottur, or “a settlement pool”.
One fifth, approximately ISK 1 billion (USD 8.7 million, EUR 6.1 million), is to be distributed among regions in the proportion of the experience fishing vessels have in each settlement.
The capital region is only entitled to ISK 60 million thereof. The West Fjords would thus receive 50 times more per inhabitant than the capital region. Non-seaside towns, such as Hveragerdi, Mosfellsbaer and Egilsstadir, would not receive one króna of these funds.
The Finance Ministry’s budget office points out in the evaluation that fish stocks are the joint possession of the nation. According to law, the state’s income of this resource has gone straight to the treasury.
An arrangement where people enjoy the benefits from a joint resource depending on where they live may be in violation with the constitution’s principle of equality.
The evaluation asks whether it can be considered natural that revenue from energy resources only go to municipalities where power plants are located, whether taxes from retail should mostly go to the capital region and taxes from fuel mostly to the southwestern region because it has the most traffic.
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