“I don’t believe I need a Plan B,” said Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir yesterday, asked at a press conference about the government’s plans, should Althingi, Iceland’s parliament not pass the Icesave bill. Visir.is reports this today.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
The Prime Minister said that it hadn’t even occurred to her that the bill might be rejected. “I have every confidence in the bill. And should any such problems arise, we will solve them when that time comes,” Sigurdardóttir added.
Yesterday, confidentiality was relieved from 68 documents pertaining to the Icesave case. Additionally, members of Althingi gained private access to 24 other confidential records, which the Prime Minister said was impossible to make public due to demands of Iceland’s contracting parties.
“Lifting confidentiality from these files demonstrates the government’s great emphasis on making as much data as possible official, so that the public, members of parliament, reporters and others can thoroughly study everything relating to this large issue,” Sigurdardóttir said.
“I am convinced that when all the data has been examined, it will have become clear that the government had no other choice than making these agreements and, as far as I and the government are concerned, there was no other way out.”
Jóhanna does not agree that by the Icesave-agreement, the debts are being passed on to the next generations, even if they certainly will prove a heavy burden for the nation. “Calculations demonstrate that Iceland’s debt load will be the heaviest in the years to come, before we must start to pay the Icesave loan,” she explained.
Minister of Finance, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, is convinced that a better deal could not be reached, should Althingi reject the bill.
“I am greatly worried about the situation that would arise should this settlement be rejected and we were forced to try to start over. It is not even certain that we would be able to begin at level zero. I suppose the reception [from our counterparts] would be rather cold should we run away from the results after such a long and hard negotiation process,” he said.
Sigfússon points out that there is a great risk involved in having such a long term loan at changeable rates. As that is the case for so many other loans taken by the Icelandic people, the risk had multiplied. Long term interest rate had reached a historic low when the Icesave deal was made.
“Every forecast assumes – and they are getting stronger these days and weeks – that interest rates will go up because of the massive deficit in state treasuries around the world, and the economies’ enormous need for capitalization due to this running at loss.”
Sigfússon also said clearly the Icesave dispute could not have been settled with legal action without the consent of the Dutch and the British people. “It was not an option,” the Minister of Finance said. “A political agreement must be reached. It was already more or less carved in stone in October and November.”
Click here to read more about the Icesave debate.