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Viewing cable 09REYKJAVIK175, MINISTERIAL CHANGES IN ICELAND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09REYKJAVIK175 2009-10-05 15:03 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0260
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0175 2781537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051537Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4180
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000175 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IC
SUBJECT:  MINISTERIAL CHANGES IN ICELAND 
 
1.  (U) On October 1, the division of responsibilities within 
several Ministries changed as part of the ruling coalition's effort 
to streamline the government.  Plans for the changes began May 10 
when the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement 
formed their coalition and announced intentions to reduce the number 
of Ministries.  The Icelandic parliament passed legislation 
September 3 to implement some of these ministerial changes.  An 
official at the Prime Minister's Office told EmbOff that, the 
process is not complete. 
 
2.  (U) Four ministries were renamed to reflect more accurately 
their new roles. The Ministry of Business Affairs became the 
Ministry of Economic Policy and Business Affairs.  The Ministry of 
Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs is now the Ministry of Justice 
and Human Rights.  The Ministry of Communications is now the 
Ministry of Communications and Municipal Affairs.  The Ministry of 
Education is the Ministry of Education and Culture. 
 
3. (U) The Ministry of Economic Policy and Business Affairs 
strengthened its role and assumed responsibilities from other 
government offices and has the lead on setting economic policy.  It 
now oversees the Central Bank and Statistics Iceland, which both 
previously came under the Prime Minister's office.  The Economic 
Department of the Ministry of Finance, responsible for surveys of 
the economy and fiscal revenue forecasts, joined Statistics Iceland. 
The Ministry of Economic Policy and Business Affairs also took over 
the Ministry of Finance's responsibility for rules on auditing, 
bookkeeping and annual reports.  According to an official from the 
Prime Minister's office, the changes leave the Ministry of Finance 
with no policy formulation responsibility, but management of such 
government assets as the State Broadcasting Agency and the 
quasi-government agency in charge of the former NATO base.  Also 
under the Ministry's control is the State Bank Handling Company, 
established by legislation in August to manage the State's shares in 
financial institutions.  The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights 
assumed responsibility to administer municipal elections and real 
estate valuations and also now handles consumer protection, which 
various ministries had previously shared. 
 
4.  (U) The September 3 law renaming and reallocating 
responsibilities among ministries, however, only implements part of 
the government's planned changes.  The coalition agreement states 
that the government also intends to merge all of the "occupational" 
ministries, presumably the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of 
Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries into one Ministry and to 
merge the Ministry of Communications and Municipal Affairs with the 
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.  The agreement also identifies 
goals of strengthening the leadership role of the Prime Minister's 
Office, increasing cooperation between ministries and increasing the 
government's cooperation with labor market parties and other 
interest groups. 
 
WATSON