Alþingi is currently engaged in its annual marathon of debates, votes and meetings in the run up to the Christmas break. This morning, after a half-hour debate on the subject, the government’s bill to shut down the Icelandic International Development Agency was passed. Its role, funding and responsibilities will be transferred to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson celebrated the passing of the bill along with other coalition MPs—telling reporters the aim of the bill is to make Iceland’s international development activities even better and more streamlined than they already are.
A minority of the Alþingi foreign affairs committee had tabled an amendment to the bill that would have seen the Icelandic International Development Agency become a department within the foreign ministry and that staff would not be forced to move. However, that proposal was rejected and the Agency will instead be completely disbanded.
Former foreign minister Össur Skarphéðinsson says he is saddened by the result and accused his successor of actions tantamount to voting for war when peace was on the table.
Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leader of the Left Green Movement, said the government’s dismal record on international development is only worsened by today’s decision, while leader of Bright Future, Óttarr Proppé, said the result shows the government’s lack of ambition in development issues, RÚV reports.