Government of Iceland to Merge Ministries Skip to content

Government of Iceland to Merge Ministries

The Icelandic government is planning to decrease the number of ministries from 12 to nine. Ideas on how the project should be executed were discussed at a cabinet meeting yesterday and discussions will be resumed in the cabinet on Friday.

Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

“I hope that the government will finish this matter quickly,” Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir told Morgunbladid. “There was no conclusion at this meeting,” the PM added of yesterday’s meeting.

The two coalition parties, the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens, are not in agreement on how to proceed, and opposition leader Bjarni Benediktsson, chairman of the Independence Party, commented that “this matter stinks of a struggle between the coalition parties.”

Decreasing the number of ministries is part of the government agreement, which the coalition parties made after the 2009 election.

“Hopefully we will have conclusions [after Friday’s meeting]. It’s not just that this matter is included in the government agreement but also mentioned in the report of the Althingi’s Special Investigative Commission,” Sigurdardóttir said.

“There it was directly suggested that the ministries be strengthened. They are too weak to handle their projects. The same goes for a committee […] which looked into necessary changes to the cabinet following the Special Investigative Commission’s report,” the PM added.

Sigurdardóttir explained that merging ministries is also an extensive savings measure. The number of state-run institutions, which are currently around 200, will be decreased.

One of the ideas is to merge the Ministries of Fisheries, Agriculture and Industry into one ministry. The PM does not believe that the merger will undermine the affairs of fisheries and agriculture. “On the contrary, they would be strengthened with the move.”

Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, who is chairman of the Left-Greens, commented that before merging ministries and institutions it is important to prepare carefully and motivate everyone involved to be active participants in the process.

Click here to read more about the Special Investigative Commission’s report.

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