The new government, which comprises of new ministries and two new ministers while the overall number of ministers dropped from 12 to ten, will focus on 20 issues this winter, as Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir and her coalition partner Finance Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon announced yesterday.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir at a different occasion. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
These tasks include stability in the employment market, creating an overall policy on energy issues, reviewing the laws on the control of fisheries and a national referendum on the fishing quota system if an agreement cannot be reached otherwise, ruv.is reports.
A statement from the chairpersons of the coalition parties, PM Sigurdardóttir of the Social Democrats and Finance Minister Steingímur J. Sigfússon of the Left-Greens, says that in the 19 months that the parties have worked together, they have managed to turn the country’s economic situation around.
Economic growth has been recorded in the past six months, more than half a year earlier than expected, the statement argues. At 7.5 percent, unemployment is lower than expected, inflation has dropped from 18.6 percent to 4.5 percent and hasn’t been lower in three years, while the key interest rate is down from 18 percent to seven percent, the lowest it has been in six years.
The Icelandic króna is appreciating and hasn’t been stronger in a year and a half. The representatives of the Confederation of Icelandic Employers, the Icelandic Confederation of Labor, the Central Bank of Iceland, the International Monetary Fund and others have declared that the crisis is over and optimism is growing within the community, the statement reads.
Chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson, the largest opposition party, said in parliament yesterday that the government cannot take credit for the economic upswing as it is a consequence of the policy of the previous government, Fréttabladid reports.
However, there are many difficult tasks ahead, the government’s statement points out, listing 20 points that will be emphasized and executed in the coming months:
1. Lay basis for stability in the employment market and continued collaboration with parties of interest.
2. Establish a new and overall policy in matters concerning energy and natural resources.
3. Decrease and merge ministries, reorganize and strengthen entities within the administration.
4. Review laws on fisheries control on the basis of the conclusion of a committee of conciliation and changes to the constitution (joint ownership of natural resources) guaranteed. Call for a national referendum on the quota system prepared if acceptable reconciliation cannot be reached.
5. Approve framework program on preservation and harnessing.
6. Approve Europe’s new law on water and water directive.
7. Take the next step in abolishing currency restrictions.
8. Complete the third and forth review of the IMF program with emphasis on completing the program no later than at the end of the summer of 2011. Review the need for foreign currency loans.
9. Eliminate the uncertainty on the loan issues of companies and individuals, strengthen information distribution, introduce resources and significantly strengthen the office of the Ombudsman for Debtors.
10. Complete the review of the social security system and legalize changes.
11. Execute further projects on the basis of an action plan to strengthen the position of children and teenagers.
12. Legalize a new action plan against gender-based violence approved and legalize the Austrian method.
13. Legal amendments made to adopt a new policy for hiring personnel and change the administration at the Government Offices of Iceland, among other items in light of the Special Investigative Commission report.
14. Complete the relocation of matters concerning the disabled to municipalities and speed up preparations for the relocation of matters concerning senior citizens.
15. Support the preparation and work of the Constitutional Parliament and systematically work on the creation of a new constitution.
16. Look into the establishment of a National Welfare Institution.
17. A strategy in employment issues “Iceland 20/20” executed and further actions taken to improve the situation of the long-term unemployed and young people without employment.
18. Form a cultural policy for the future.
19. Complete an action plan on greenhouse gas emissions.
20. Make a plan for human rights issues based on a Nordic example.
Click here to read more about the changes to the cabinet.