A bill from the prime minister to reduce the number of ministries from twelve to nine through merging some of them is now being reviewed by the coalition. A joint letter from a multitude of fishing and agricultural groups urging that the reduction not be made has also been submitted to parliament.
The proposed changes would merge the ministries of fishing, agriculture and industry into one Ministry of Employment; merge the ministries of health and social affairs into one Ministry of Welfare; and merge the ministries of justice and transportation into one Ministry of the Interior. At the same time, the Ministry for the Environment would become the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. It would serve to advise the Ministry of Employment on how and if natural resources should be utliized for employment.
Sources close to Eyjan report that while both the prime minister and the chairman of the Leftist-Greens agree with the merge, many within the Leftist-Greens are unsatisfied with the idea. The complaint seems to revolve mostly around the fact that many would like to see former Minister of Health Ögmundur Jónasson come back to some ministerial position, while at the same time, they don’t want to see current Minister of Agriculture and Fishing Jón Bjarnason lose his position. They would also like to see the cabinet’s two non-politically-affiliated minsters – Minister of Business Gylfi Magnússon and Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir – replace with someone from the parties.
Meanwhile, a joint letter signed by numerous agricultural and fishing groups, including the Farmer’s Association of Iceland – itself a powerful lobby – objects to the proposed merger on the grounds that there has been little discussion about the merger, what it will mean, and what effects it would have; rather, they contend, the government seems keen to roll the bill through into law.
Sources close to Eyjan from both the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens have said the proposed merger will not likely happen before this fall.