From Iceland — Party Chairmen Respond to Economic Crash Report

Party Chairmen Respond to Economic Crash Report

Published April 12, 2010

Chairmen of all five parties responded to the conclusions of the parliamentary Special Investigation Commission’s report on why the economy failed.
The report itself lays a great deal of responsibility on the Independence Party and former Central bank chairman Davíð Oddsson for essentially being incompetent in or unwilling to properly reign in Iceland’s titans of industry. Grapevine’s own highlights of what has come forth can be read here.
The first casualty of the report appears to be Social Democrat MP Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, who resigned as party manager in light of the reports findings. Sigurðsson was Minister of Business in the time leading up to the economic collapse. He would resign from that position shortly thereafter.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir said that Sigurðsson’s decision was an admirable one. She added that the report’s findings should help Icelanders, as a people, come to terms with how the economic collapsed was caused. She added that the matter should be examined carefully before reaching any conclusions about what should be done.
It was then the turn of Independence Party chairman Bjarni Benediktsson. In his response to the report’s findings, he said, “I have previously said that freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin and neither can stand alone. So it seems the bank managers acted on their freedom without taking responsibility.” He added that his party is ready to make the changes necessary to prevent such a collapse from happening again.
Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon added that greed had taken over the government during this time period, but that the people will work their way through it. Sigfússon pointed out that warnings signs of the economy struggling were present in 2006. In fact, Standard & Poor’s told the Grapevine in 2006 that the economy was “overheating”, and that the government needed to intervene in the economy immediately.
Progressive Party chairman Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson said that all parties need to examine themselves, admit their own mistakes, and learn from them before moving forward. Birgitta Jónsdóttir of The Movement was more direct, saying that the economic collapse was the result of nothing less than “treason”, adding that she does not believe the other four parties have learned anything from the collapse, as they had recently decided to continue to accept financial contributions from private companies.
No formal charges have yet been filed against anyone in light of the report. Not a single Icelander that Grapevine spoke to believes anyone will be charged, let alone face prison time.

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