The party group of the Reform Party convened yesterday to discuss the report on Icelanders’ offshore assets, made public Friday, RÚV reports. During the marathon meeting, the party group spoke with Independence Party Leader Bjarni Benediktsson via conference call, but he expected to lead the new coalition government to be announced today. It will be a coalition of the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future.
In the wake of the report’s publication, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has been harshly criticized for failing to present it to Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, prior to the October 29 election, even though it was handed to his ministry on September 13. The report, authored by a task force he appointed, revealed that the Icelandic state is likely losing ISK 2.8 to 6.5 billion (USD 25-57 million, EUR 23-54 million) annually because of Icelandic tax payers’ offshore assets.
Reform Party Group Leader Hanna Katrín Friðriksson told RÚV the report and discussion about it had triggered some questions. Fréttablaðið quotes a Facebook post from yesterday by Reform Party Leader Benedikt Jóhannesson, in which he writes, “Our party group heard from B[jarni] B[enediktsson] today and based on his account, I believe this was a case of clumsiness and lack of judgment [rather] than intentionally keeping the information hidden. That does not change the fact that in my (and every party group member’s) opinion, he should have made the report public right away.”
Reform Party Vice Chairperson Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir told RÚV, “In our view, this is a major issue which we believed right to examine and leave no stone unturned.”
Reform Party MP Pawel Bartoszek admitted the report issue had been a matter of great concern for the party group. Speaking of Bjarni’s explanations, he remarked, “I judged the explanations he gave at the meeting as proof that he could be trusted to lead the next government.”
He continued, “When all had been evaluated, it was my opinion we should let Bjarni enjoy the benefit of the doubt.”