The Icelandic parliament’s 2019 budget bill was introduced in a press conference this morning. The proposal prioritises healthcare, in particular the planned building of a new national hospital and the construction and operation of nursing homes, RÚV reports. Funding for social support programs, housing, and child benefits will also be raised in the next year. The budget further addresses the development of infrastructure, as well as increasing contributions toward combatting climate change.
Police will receive an additional ISK 410 million ($3.6m/€3.1m) to respond to the increased burden associated with a growth in tourism. The contribution will support increased road traffic monitoring, particularly in the Central Highlands, as well as increased monitoring of popular tourists sites, and hiring additional staff to response teams.
“The treasury’s position has not been stronger for many years and GDP has rised sharply,” stated Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson at the press conference presenting the budget this morning. The budget outlines an increase in expenditure of around ISK 55 billion ($475m/€410m) balanced by an increase in revenue of almost ISK 52 billion ($450m/€388m).
ISK 7.2 billion ($62.3m/€54.7m) will go toward the construction of the new national hospital, while contributions to healthcare will be increased around ISK 12.6 billion ($111m/€95.7m). Transportation expenditures will increase by ISK 5.5 billion ($48.4m/€41.8m), and the budget accounts for the purchase of new Coast Guard helicopters, which are expected to be delivered in 2022.
The budget allocated towards housing will increase by over ISK 900 million ($7.9m/€8.6m). This will be split into various areas, including housing benefits for low earners, the construction of public housing, and tax credits for first-time homebuyers.
Bjarni says Iceland is emerging from a period of strong economic growth which is set to slow in the near future. “That means that the government can’t sustain as much spending as before,” he stated. “There is still leeway ahead however, if we take certain actions, such as the sale of government assets.” To this effect, the government intends to sell a Maggini violin in the care of the Symphony Orchestra which which has not been used for many years. The instrument, however, will be replaced by one more suitable for the orchestra’s current purposes.