The Icelandic government’s budget for next year was passed by the Alþingi parliament last night.
The bill made it through parliamentary vote before 22.00 last night, despite severe misgivings among the opposition about portions of the financial allocation. Opposition parties were particularly concerned about workplace matters and funding for the national broadcaster, RÚV. In both cases they managed to get small amendments to the bill.
Parliament traditionally debates and passes the next year’s budget during its last session before the Christmas break, and this was the case last night. After the budget there were nine further bills on the agenda and the meeting started up again just before 22.00. MPs are now on holiday.
Finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson celebrated the bill, RÚV reported, saying he is happy to have managed to pass a second budget under which the country will run a surplus, at the same time as increasing funding in many areas. Important services are being maintained while the national debt is being eroded, he said.
The deeply political bill was not welcomed by the opposition however, with parties claiming that the budget includes increased costs to patients for healthcare, the cutting of rights for the long-term unemployed, restrictions on further education establishments and increased tax on food and books.