For the first few months of their political comeback, the ministers of the Icelandic Independent Party/Progressive Party coalition – none of whom had previously been in a ministerial position – frequently said something which was retracted the next day by someone else, usually the PM, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. For instance, Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson’s remark about the government doing away with the environment ministry completely was corrected next day by SDG.
Now the draft budget for next year has been released and the opposition is angry, especially about the plan to charge patients a (albeit modest) fee for a hospital stay, which is on the cards. “Oh, but we don’t mean everyone will have to pay,” said the health minister, Kristjan Thor Juliusson, a few days later. The previous government had allocated a special grant for hospital equipment for this year, but that no longer exists.
Icelanders remember well the PP’s promise pre-election of vastly increased sums for the beleaguered national university hospital in Reykjavik, Landspitalinn, not to mention immediate help for home-owners who are often having to pay more in loans than their property is worth. But now Vigdis Hauksdottir, a PP member who is chair of the Althingi’s finance committee and part of the committee that was tasked with finding our how budget cuts could be made, has come up with a new definition of “immediate”. Because a government is elected for four years, “immediate” could be defined somewhat flexibly. she says.
So there you have it.