Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

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  • Politics

    Left-Green led Grand Coalition unveils first budget: Debt to drop below 25% of GDP

    By Staff

    Ministry of finance Government debt is projected to drop to below 25% of GDP by 2022, thanks to healthy budget surpluses. Photo/Iceland Mag.

    Yesterday the newly formed Left-Green led coalition government revealed its first budget bill. The government intends to increase spending on health care, education and infrastructure investment. Despite this the budget for the fiscal year 2018 envisions that after interest payments the budget will have a significant surplus of 3.5% of GDP. The budget has to be approved by parliament before the end of the year.

    Read more: Report: New Left-Green led Grand Coalition enjoys 78% approval rating

    At the same time as the budget for 2018 was revealed the Ministry of Finance unveiled the long term budget plan for 2018-22. The plan lays out the broad outlines of the fiscal policy of the government. According to this the budget will continue to have a large budget surplus, allowing the government to pay down debt. By the end of 2020 government debt will have dropped below 30% of GDP, and by 2022 government debt should not exceed 25% of GDP.

  • Business

    Strike at Icelandair looming: Airline mechanics demand a 20% wage hike

    By Staff

    Icelandair As many as 10,000 passengers could be affected in the first day of a potential strike at Icelandair. Photo/Anton

    No progress has been made in negotiations between the Union of Airline Mechanics and Business Iceland on a new wage agreement for Icelandair mechanics. According to the CEO of Business Iceland the mechanics are demanding a 20% wage hike. If an agreement is not reached before Sunday 6 AM mechanics at Icelandair will go on strike. 

    Read more: Icelandair airline mechanics threaten strike on Sunday: Negotiations deadlocked

    The CEO of Business Iceland, Halldór Benjamín Þorbergsson  told the National Broadcasting Service RÚV that it was impossible to meet the mechanics' demands. A wage agreement based on these demands would be the costliest in the history of Business Iceland, and would upset all other wage agreements. 

    The chairman of the Mechanics' Union told RÚV that the mechanics are preparing for a strike. A strike would only affect Icelandair. Passengers who have booked flights with Icelandair after 6 AM on December 17 can expect delays or disruptions. Other airlines, including WOW air and foreign airlines who fly to Keflavík should not experience any disruption.

  • Culture

    December 15: Spoon licker, the fourth Yule Lad comes to town

    By Staff

    Þvörusleikir This is how the popular cartoonist Halldór Bjarnason imagines the fourth Yule Lad. Photo/Halldór Bjarnason

    The Yule lads (Jólasveinar) are trolls who live far away from humans high in the mountains or highlands, but come to visit to town in December. The total number of the Yule lads varies in old stories, but in the 19th and early 20th century the tradition of 13 lads became universal.

    Rather than rushing to town as a group the Yule Lads travel alone, coming to town one by one each night, wreaking havoc and causing nuisance. The first Yule lad arrives in the early morning of December 12 and the last on the 24th. They then depart in the same order as they arrive, each spending 13 days with us humans. The fourth Yule lad to arrive is Þvörusleikir, or "Spoon-Licker". As his name implies Spoon Licker licks people's spoons!

    This is how Þvörusleikir is described in the popular Yule Lad poem:

    The fourth was Spoon Licker;
    like spindle he was thin.
    He felt himself in clover
    when the cook wasn't in.
    Then stepping up, he grappled
    the stirring spoon with glee,
    holding it with both hands
    for it was slippery.

  • Crime

    Foreign traveller returns to Iceland to retrieve his stolen camera

    By Staff

    The lucky traveller Brandon returned to Iceland to retrieve his camera. Photo/Police in Suðurnes district

    When Brandon wand his wife visited Iceland last week they suffered the misfortune of having their camera stolen. Not only was the camera and other camera equipment quite valuable (valued at more than 10,000 USD), the camera contained most of the photos the couple had taken during their European vacation. 

    During their last night in Iceland the couple had left the camera in a bag in their rental car, but had forgotten to lock the car. When they came out to the car the following morning they discovered the bag and  other valuables had been stolen from the car. The couple reported the theft to the Police in Suðurnes district, which covers the Reykjanes peninsula and Keflavík Airport. 

    Fortunately the police was able to track down and arrest the burglar who handed over the camera and other valuables he stole that night. Brandon made a special return trip to Iceland just to recover the camera, posing in a photograph for the Police before he returned. The Police in Suðurnes shared the photograph on their Facebook page, using the opportunity to urge people to lock their cars:

    "The moral of the story is of course that you should always lock your car, especially during the holiday season when cars fill up with presents. Nobody wants to discover all their Christmas presents have been stolen."

  • Economy

    GDP per capita in Iceland 28% above European average, 5th highest in Europe

    By Staff

    Doing great Per capita GDP in Iceland is now fifth highest in Europe. Photo/Vilhelm

    As the Icelandic economy continues to recover from the 2008 financial crash, Iceland surges up the list of GDP per capita. According to data from Statistics Iceland the per capita GDP of Iceland in 2016 was the fifth highest in Europe. In 2015 Iceland was in tenth place, and eleventh place in 2014. GDP per capita in Iceland in 2016 was 28% above the EU28 average. 

    GDP per capita was highest in Luxembourg, where it was 158% above the European average, followed by Ireland, where it was 83% above the average, Switzerland where it was 61% above the average and Norway in fourth place, where GDP was 48% above the average. Statistics Iceland notes that the figures for Luxembourg should be taken with a grain of salt, as Luxembourg has a large number of people who are employed there and contribute to its GDP, but are not included in the resident population, thus skewing the per capita GDP upwards. 

    GDP per capita 2014-16
    GDP per capita 2014-16 Statistics Iceland

     

  • Animals

    Motorists warned to keep an eye out for reindeer wandering on the Ring Road in East Iceland

    By Staff

    Reindeer The reindeer population in Iceland is estimated to be 4,000 animals. Photo/Vilhelm

    At this time of year reindeer who live in the mountains and central highlands of East Iceland will start to make their way closer to the coast, visiting towns and farms. This also means drivers need to be extra vigilant!

    Read more: The story of the wild reindeer herds in the Eastfjords

    The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority and the East Iceland Nature Research Center, which monitors the reindeer flocks in East Iceland, have issued a warning to drivers to be on the lookout for reindeer in the Eastfjords and South East Iceland, east of Öræfajökull glacier. Drivers in the area area are also asked to show caution due to icy conditions on the Ring Road.

     

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