From Iceland — Economist: Ministers Could Have Reduced Damage

Economist: Ministers Could Have Reduced Damage

Published September 24, 2010

While the Prime Minister has contended that none of the four former ministers recommended by a parliamentary committee to be charged with negligence and mismanagement could have prevented the economic collapse, an economist contends that they could have taken measures to reduce the impact, and soften damage done to the Icelandic household. Over 60% of Icelanders want the ministers to stand trial, according to a new poll.
RÚV spoke with Guðrún Johnsen, a professor of economics who worked with the Special Investigative Commission (SIC). She told reporters that the prime minister is missing the point when she says the four ministers could not have prevented the crisis – the matter does not revolve around the economic collapse itself, but rather, irresponsibility and negligence on the job.
The SIC does not believe former prime minister Geir Haarde, for example, could have prevented the economic collapse, Guðrún said. But they do believe he did absolutely nothing to try and reduce the impact of the coming crash on the Icelandic household; on the contrary, he contended the economy was in fine shape until it wasn’t possible to contend this anymore.
Guðrún believes the ministers could have greatly reduced the costs of recovery by taking some action, any action at all. Instead, they did nothing, and watched the banks collapse. This, she argues, is at the heart of why they should stand trial.
In related news, 61.2% of those polled by the newspaper Fréttablaðið believe at least some of the four former ministers named by the parliamentary committee – former prime minister Geir H. Haarde, former foreign minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, former finance minister Árni Matthiesen and former business minister Björgvín Sigurðsson – should stand trial for negligence.
Divided by party lines, most Leftist-Greens and Progressives want to see charges pressed, while only about half of Social Democrats said the same. Scarcely 25% of conservatives favor the same measure.

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