Iceland's 2019 Budget: More To The Church, Less For The Environment - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland’s 2019 Budget: More To The Church, Less For The Environment

Published December 27, 2018

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

The government budget for 2019 has been made public, and it includes a few surprises.

As Fréttablaðið reports, the budget was approved on December 14, and most categories overseen by the government saw an increase in funding.

The Directorate of Immigration will get an overall increase of funding to the tune of about 530 million ISK; funding for parental leave will increase by about a billion ISK; and funding to numerous sectors of health care—including health clinics, paramedics and ambulatory services—will increase by 750 million.

Most striking, however, is the contrast between funding for the National Church and funding for environmental matters. While the church will see an increase of funding of 857 million ISK, funding for environmental matters will be cut by 52 million ISK—especially perplexing, considering the government is led by a party called the Left-Greens.

As reported, trust in the National Church is down to 33%, and the majority of Icelanders want separation of church and state. In addition, more people have been leaving the church than joining for several years now.

Nonetheless, the national church is still enshrined in the Icelandic constitution as having the right to government support. In addition to the parishioner fees that are automatically deducted from registered members. The Bishop herself earns over 1 million ISK per month, while parish priests usually earn about half a million, in addition to what they might charge for services such as weddings, baptisms and confirmations.

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