Media investigate Icelandic ministers’ public funding

grunnskóli-siglufjarðarDespite the current restriction in Iceland’s state budget, individual MPs are still distributing funds to their constituencies for concerts and sports clubs. Since the banking collapse, MPs have allocated around ISK 80 million from their budgets in this way, as was revealed in current affairs programme Kastljos last night.

Individual funds for MPs have been a part of the national budget for many years and are intended to cover unexpected costs. Since 2000, MPs have distributed some ISK 800 million for a wide variety of projects.

The television show looked particularly at funding grants given by Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Jon Bjarnason and Communications Minister Kristjan Moller. An example used was Bjarnason’s ISK 500,000 cash injection to Holar University, where he was once Rector.

Since the banking crisis began, Kristjan Moller has granted ISK 4.6 million in funding – of which half has gone to his own constituency, Northeast Iceland. The money in the Northeast was partly spent on a choir concert, a ISK 200,000 grant for the priest in Siglufjordur to complete his Master’s thesis, and funding for Siglufjordur Elementary School to take part in the national schools’ sport and fitness championships.

In the five months Arni Mathiesen was Minister for Finance following the banking collapse, nearly all of his funding was spent in his South Iceland constituency.

Kastljos also reported that neither of the two unelected government ministers (Minister for Industry, Energy and Tourism Katrin Juliusdottir and Minister for Economic Affairs Gylfi Magnussson) has yet used any of their funding allowances at all.

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