According to a new report released by Statistics Iceland on household finances of Icelanders [PDF link] 10.1% of households were behind on mortgage or rent payments in 2012 and 10.4% of households were in arrears with other loans during the same period. Moreover, in 2012, 48.2% of houses identified as having difficulty making ends meet, with 36% of households unable to cover unexpected expenses that were to arise.
While these figures don’t bode well for the financial health of Icelanders, the statistics point to a slight improvement over the state of households in 2011. More than 50% of households had reported having a difficult or very difficult time making ends meet in 2011. Arrears on mortgage and rent payments have remained stable over the course of 2011 and 2012, but arrears on other loans have decreased year-over-year. Single parents are more likely than other household types to be experiencing financial difficulties. Comparing single-person households, single men are more likely to be in arrears than a household run by a single woman. The study was conducted by a survey of 3,091 households around Iceland over a three-month period of March through May 2012.
An evacuation order went into effect yesterday in the area north of Vatnajökull glacier, in light of ongoing earthquake activity around the Bárðarbunga volcano, reports RÚV. According to Víðir Reynisson, department manager of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the evacuation has been a success though he could not be sure that some had not been left behind. “The evacuation has gone well so far,” Víðir told RÚV last night. “We don’t expect the evacuation to be finished until maybe 3 am… This sort of thing just takes time. There are bad roads and such. What will happen next is that the Icelandic Coast Guard will
Iceland’s government intends to increase funding to reforestation efforts around the country. RÚV reports that while recent years have seen government cuts to Iceland’s national reforestation efforts, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson wants to reverse that trend. The minister points out that even as demand for timber is growing, successive cuts over the years have made many tree planters worried about the impact the demand will have on Iceland’s forests. “The government has a plan to increase reforestation and revegetation for, amongst other reasons, the trapping of carbon dioxide,” Sigurður told reporters. “I expect that
One of Iceland’s captains of the tourist industry has proposed that tourism be given its own ministerial jurisdiction. MBL reports that Ásbjörn Björgvinsson, the director of the Icelandic Tourism Association, believes the time has come for the Icelandic government to devote at least part of a ministry to what is already a major revenue-generator for Iceland. “One of the things that the Icelandic Tourism Association has pushed for is that Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir be given the title Minister of Tourism, not just the Minister of Industry and Commerce,” the title she current holds, he told reporters. Ásbjörn believes the title
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson drew harsh criticism for remarks he made about an impending vote of no confidence against Interior Minister Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir. The Pirate Party announced earlier this week that they were considering submitting a vote of no confidence against Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir. They contend that her refusal to step down during police investigations of her ministry, amongst other things, has ruined the credibility of the ministry itself. Yesterday, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson told MBL that he believes Hanna Birna has acted appropriately throughout the matter, adding that he questioned the premise
A whole new angle on the ever-brewing Ministry of the Interior scandal came to light when it was reported that Interior Minister Hanna Birna had contacted then-Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, in person and by phone, in part to ask if police could be trusted with ministry files, and when their investigations would end. Cue media maelstrom, replete with Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson formally requesting the minister explain herself. At the time of writing, the Ombudsman is still waiting for a final answer from Hanna Birna, who had until August 15 to respond. Former Prime Minister Geir
New research shows an increasing number of bats in Iceland, most likely arriving via cargo ships. The research, published in the journal Acta Chiropterologica under the title “A Review of the Occurrence of Bats (Chiroptera) on Islands in the North East Atlantic and on North Sea Installations”, placed primary focus on newly discovered species of bats in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, and North Sea installations. Vísir reports that 40 separate bat sightings have been recorded in Iceland in 2012. Most of these bats were found in southwest Iceland, especially in the capital area. It