CEO of Canadian Magma Energy Ross Beaty said during the Capacent Glacier conference at Grand Hotel in Reykjavík yesterday that Icelandic ministers must change their attitude towards foreign investors.
Harnessing geothermal energy in Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Beaty said he had thought his company was given rather negative coverage last summer because of its investment in HS Energy, Morgunbladid reports.
He explained that Magma considered the investment a long-term project and was planning to develop a large company on a global scale. Their goal is not to steal Iceland’s natural resources, which is what some ministers had claimed.
“It can be difficult to deal with a left-green government, which doesn’t want foreign companies to invest in the country’s natural resources because of ideological reasons,” Beaty said.
He claimed that Magma hadn’t paid a low price for access to Iceland’s natural resources, in fact, some might find it unusually high.
“The best thing about Iceland is great human resources,” Beaty said, adding that he has no doubt Iceland will recover from the depression and Magma is keen on restoring the country’s economy through its investment.
According to a new survey undertaken by Capacent Glacier, both the Icelandic public and the executives of Icelandic companies are positive towards foreign investors, Fréttabladid reports.
The survey concluded that 86 percent of company executives who participated in the poll are in favor of foreign investments and 92 percent believe they are necessary for the economy.
The public is not as keen, yet 70 percent of respondents said they support foreign investments and 81 percent believe they are necessary.
CEO of Capacent Glacier Magnús Bjarnason said the attitude of Icelanders towards foreign investments has been more positive than expected.
However, people’s attitude towards foreign investments in the fishing and energy industries is rather negative.
At yesterday’s conference, the government was also criticized by its financial advisor, Mats Josefsson. “It appears that the restoration of the economy is not being prioritized by the government these days. Lack of political decision-making is the main hindrance in the restoration of the Icelandic economy,” he said, according to Morgunbladid.
Josefsson said he finds it bad that the restoration of the banking system has been turned into a political argument, where the main focus is on the blame game. He also criticized the government for lack of coordination.
Josefsson, who is a Swedish expert, was originally hired to assist the Icelandic government in restoring the economy by former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde. Earlier this year he threatened to quit because of how slowly things were going.