Government Coalition Platform

Platform of the Coalition Government formed by the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future

1/11/17

Translation from the original version (Icelandic) 

Introduction

Balance and foresight are the guiding principles of the government of the Independence Party, the Reform Party and Bright Future. Iceland should be an attractive option for all those who wish to take part in the future structuring of Icelandic society. Human rights, equal opportunities, diversity, freedom and responsibility and respect for different views of life constitute a strong basis for this.

Iceland's competitiveness must be strengthened. The government will promote the development of social infrastructure, transportation, health and education and a dynamic and competitive economy that will benefit people all over the country. A prerequisite for progress towards improved living standards is economic stability so that the country's resources and its current economic recovery will also benefit future generations.

The government will prioritise health issues. Emphasis will be placed on all inhabitants having access to good health care regardless of their financial situation and place of residence.

Economic diversity will be increased through investments in, or other incentives for, creative industries, green industry, such as environmentally friendly technological development and manufacturing, intellectual property and knowledge-intensive industries and increased research and development.

The nation's prosperity and development of the knowledge society depends on a strong educational system that offers varied programmes and supports the economy. 

The government supports broad consensus in the labour market, responsibility in state finances and stability in the exchange-rate policy and monetary matters. Prudence must be exercised in public finances and disciplined and transparent procedures must be applied at all times in public policy-making and administration.

Work will be undertaken to build trust in the fundamental institutions of society, including the Althingi and the judicial system. Care must be taken to ensure that representatives of different opinions have sufficient time to present their views before legislation is finalised and passed. Access to the administrative organs of government, and their responsiveness towards the public, will be improved, decisive steps will be taken to open up the state's accounting, and public entities will be placed under a greater obligation to provide information to the public. In all its functions, the government will observe good governance practices and administrative transparency.

Health Issues

Reliable and high-quality health care services regardless of people's financial situation or social position, will be a priority of the government. A health policy will be formulated that coordinates and strengthens health-care services, improves public health and promotes overall health.

It is aimed to reduce the proportion of the costs of health-care services borne by  private individuals. The building of a new National University Hospital of Iceland will be accelerated to the extent possible with the treatment centre completed in 2023.  Access to specialist services in the rural areas is to be improved through measures including the development of distance health-care services.

The position of primary health-care clinics as the first stop for patients will strengthened. Access to mental health services will be increased, including the provision of psychological services at primary health-care clinics and in secondary schools. Greater support will be provided for children of parents with mental health issues and psychological services will be brought under the social insurance scheme in stages.

A special effort will be launched to shorten the waiting period for services in the health-care system.

Policy-making and planning by the authorities will take into account the impacts on the health and well-being of the public. Direct and indirect future costs for society as a whole will be reduced by putting greater effort into preventive measures and public health.

Greater emphasis will be placed on the development of geriatric services, especially residential care and nursing homes. Work will be undertaken to increase the number of places in day rehabilitation for the elderly and to shorten waiting periods.

Social Security

Measures will be taken to ensure that all those who suffer a reduction in working capacity due to illness or accidents will have the opportunity to pursue vocational rehabilitation once medical treatment and rehabilitation is completed, with the goal of increasing quality of life and participation in the community. A work capacity assessment will be adopted and the disability pension system thus made more flexible to encourage participation in the labour market. Effort will be made to increase the independence of people with disabilities, both as regards labour participation and transportation. The government will resolutely support the introduction of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Client-controlled personal assistance will be passed into law as one of the forms of service for people with disabilities, in collaboration with the local authorities. At all times, an effort is to be made to give people with disabilities the choice to direct their own services.

The retirement age will raised in stages. Through the adoption of flexible retirement as a principle, the elderly will be able to utilise their working capacity and experience. The tax-free level for income earned by recipients of the old-age pension will be raised.

Equality and the Family

Equality in the broad sense is an integral part of a just and fair society. Labour-market equality is a an important aspect of this. In order to fight gender-based wage discrimination, any company with 25 or more employees will be required to qualify for equal pay certification each year.

No effort will be spared to ensure that services for children, adolescents and families are always at the highest level possible and that Icelandic society is child-friendly. Society should support different household types and encourage parents who do not live together to raise their children amicably. The right of children to be registered as having a split residence is to be ensured, and the position of the parent with access rights and the parent with whom the child resides should be equalised.

The ceiling on parental leave payments will be raised in steady steps during the electoral term. 

Education

A solid education, regardless of financial situation, is an important prerequisite for each and every individual being able to reach their full potential. The educational system plays a key role in preparing citizens for participation in democratic society and knowledge, culture, the arts, innovation and science are crucial in the development of the economy and raising the quality of life. The government will endeavour to strengthen all levels of education.

The universities shall be supported in maintaining high standards and upholding competitiveness at international standards, at the same time as cooperation and coordination between Icelandic universities and scientific institutions will be increased. The mathematical models of the educational system need to be revised with regard to cost differences and a diverse student body.

The needs of primary and secondary schools must be taken into consideration so that greater emphasis can be placed on the teaching of creative subjects, computer programming, design and vocational training, along with a special focus on traditional subjects. Distance teaching will be developed further to meet the different demands and circumstances of pupils. Greater support must be given to the teaching bilingual pupils in their mother tongue, in parallel with the teaching of Icelandic as a second language.

Pupils must be ensured equality and freedom of choice by means including the support of  schools operating under different structures and enabling them to utilise technological innovations. Opportunities are to be increased for older pupils to finish their secondary school education in cases where they do not manage to complete it within thetraditional time limits. This entails joint benefits for the individual as well as society as a whole as opportunities for empowerment and welfare are created.

A scholarship system based on the Nordic model will be adopted and lending from the Student Loan Fund will be based on full cost of living support and incentives for academic progress. Consideration will be given to the social role of the Fund.

Teacher training must be upgraded to respond to falling numbers of teachers and fewer applications for teacher training programmes at the pre-primary as well as the primary and secondary level.

Decisive steps must be taken to guarantee children places in pre-primary schools or in day-care when parental leave ends, through a common effort by the state and the municipalities.

Culture

Culture and the creative industries are continually becoming a more important part of the economy and the creation of value in Icelandic society. The government will strive to build a quality framework and a good working environment for the creative industries. Ample support will be provided to research and development and the role of competitive funds will be expanded to encompass research in the creative industries. Legislation must be reviewed to keep pace with developments in technology, equipment, copying and distribution of copyrighted materials.

The Icelandic cultural heritage must be fostered and also the opportunities to participate in a creative environment, and emphasis will be placed on bringing culture to as many as possible regardless of their financial situation or place of residence.

The Icelandic linguistic area is small and support is therefore vital. The language technology project will be continued in collaboration with academia and industry. The state will increasingly transfer the publication of educational materials to independent publishers, who play an important cultural role through publishing activities of various types.

Sports and youth activity must be fostered, since their contribution to public health, substance-abuse prevention and the general well-being of the population is of great value. It is vital to give Icelandic high-level athletes effective support.

Law and Order

Law enforcement is to be enhanced, particularly in view of the increased demands on the system all over the country as a result of rising numbers of tourists, and border control is to be upgraded. The capacity of the police and the prosecuting authority to respond to sexual offences and domestic violence is to be enhanced. Emphasis will be placed on the implementation of the action plan for improved procedures for handling sexual offences and it shall be proposed to the Althingi that sexual violence in the cybersphere be defined in the penal code. The victims of human trafficking shall be given adequate legal protection and support. To reduce recidivism, the focus in policy development in this policy area shall be on reform.

Immigrants and Aliens

A multicultural society contains human capital and a variety of experience that enrich social interaction. It will be made easier for immigrants to become full and active participants in Icelandic society.

Great care will be exercised in the regular reception of quota refugees with the goal of accepting more refugees. Funding will continue to be ensured for emergency assistance organised by international institutions.

The implementation of the new Foreigner Nationals Act must be supported in order to ensure its efficiency in relation to the relevant institutions and services. Humanitarian consideration shall be the guiding principle in the processing of applications for international protection, in accordance with obligations resulting from the UN Refugee Convention, and processing times shortened without compromising the quality of the procedure.

The granting of work permits to people from outside the European Economic Area will be simplified. Immigrants' educational qualifications shall be given due recognition and steps will be taken to ensure that they way they are received in Iceland will make the country an attractive place for them to settle in the long term.

Economic Matters and Stability

Through restraint in public expenditure, the sale of properties that came under Treasury ownership following the banking collapse, and by reducing the national debt there will be continuing support for strong state finances. Emphasis will be placed on an open and transparent procedure in the sale of assets.

The state should make better use of common public procurement to reduce spending. Timed objectives will be set for better management and increased productivity in the public sector. The goal is for all permanent expenditure decisions to fit within the economic cycle. The long-term goal is that net public debt will be nil within ten years.

A stability fund will be established to manage dividends from energy resources owned by the Treasury, ensuring that future generations will benefit from commonly-owned resources, and counteracting cyclical fluctuations in the economy.

Labour-market stability is an important prerequisite for balance and economic growth. A single labour market with equalised pension rights and other general rights is a key factor in bringing about increased transparency in wages and terms. The government will support the social partners in further reforms of the Icelandic labour market model, based on the Nordic model, which have been drafted in the SALEK agreement.

Taxation

The function of the taxation system as a revenue-generating instrument to meet common expenses will be strengthened and tax enforcement enhanced. Tax evasion, including the use of tax havens, will be systematically opposed. A fair tax environment reduces the need for concessions and exemptions from public levies to increase the international competitiveness of companies.

Special account needs to be taken of the tax environment of self-employed individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises with simplification and a reduction of the social insurance tax in mind.

A coordinated system of green taxes needs to be established to impose normal duties on polluting activities and also create incentives to reduce emissions and to take other countermeasures. To this end, work will continue on the application of taxes to vehicles and fuel.

The Future of the Banking System

In the long term, it is not ideal for the state to own a majority of the share capital in the commercial banks. Therefore, it is important to reduce the state's ownership in small steps and in accord with a broad consensus. Emphasis will be placed on an open and transparent process in which special care will be taken to ensure as much dispersion of ownership as possible. With that in view, the goal will be for the public to be able to receive a particular ownership share free of charge. 

Fisheries

The current fisheries management system has yielded great macroeconomic benefits. A great deal of streamlining has taken place in the fisheries sector and the sustainability of the utilisation of Iceland's fishing grounds has been secured. The safety of seamen has also increased considerably.

The government considers that the benefits of the catch quota system are important for continuing creation of value in the fishing industry. Attention will be given to the benefits of basing the system on long-term agreements rather than allocations without time limits; at the same  time, other possible choices will be examined, such as market-linking, a special profit-based fee or other methods to better ensure that payment for access to this common resource will be proportional to the gains derived from it. The long-term security of operations  in the sector and economic stability in the rural areas must be ensured.

Agriculture

Emphasis will continue to be placed on the production of wholesome local products by an environmentally sound and competitive agricultural sector. Animal welfare will be a guiding principle. Effective monitoring of farm animals and the manufacturing processing of food products will be ensured, and measures will be taken to secure consumer protection.

Amendments to the Agricultural Agreement and the Agricultural Products Act will be directed towards increased productivity, the interests and freedom of choice of consumers and farmers, and product variety. The competitive position of Icelandic agriculture, taking into account the country's geographical location, weather conditions and limitations of agricultural land will also be borne in mind. Clean agriculture, in terms of both produce and the environment, and reductions in carbon emissions will, along with the aforementioned factors, be the guiding light of the government's agricultural policy. Emphasis must be placed on maintaining efficiency and continuing to support the equal standing of farmers as far as possible.

A review of the Agricultural Agreement will be the basis of a new agreement with farmers which is expected to be finalised no later than 2019. The government will encourage the increase of more general support, e.g. for cultivation, investment, innovation, environmental protection and new farmers, while decreasing support for specific agricultural sub-sectors. The allocation of import quotas must be revised and the premise for the dairy industry's derogations from competition law must be analysed and suitable amendments made. 

Tourism

The importance of tourism as an occupational sector is to be  reflected in the administration's tasks and long-term policy-making. In the years to come, emphasis will be placed on projects that will be conducive to harmonised management of tourism, research and reliable gathering of data, increased profitability of the sector, the spread of tourists to all parts of the country, and rationalised levying of fees, e.g. in the form of parking fees.

Innovation and Development

Ample support will be provided to research and development and the role of competitive funds expanded to encompass research in the creative industries. Ways will be sought to increase access to growth capital for innovative and creative ventures, as well as access to foreign markets and necessary foreign expertise. Thus, support will be given to sophisticated research and development activities and Iceland's competitiveness will be improved.

Environment and Natural Resources

The use of terrestrial and marine resources should at all times be balanced so that future generations can enjoy the same quality of the environment as those now living. The government stresses that companies in Iceland should enjoy conditions that will give them an opportunity to pursue varied and environmentally sound commercial operations.

Allocation of rights of usage of publicly owned natural resources is to be be transparent. Individuals' rights of ownership and entitlement to utilisation shall not be abridged unless this is urgently required in the public interest. A framework programme for the protection and utilisation of natural areas will be presented to the Althingi for adoption as a forward-looking and professional compromise between different points of view on utilisation and protection. A special plan will be drawn up for the protection of the central highlands. There will be no new concessionary investment agreements for the building of polluting heavy industry. An ownership policy will be developed for the National Power Company of Iceland, the aims of which will include the maximisation of the value of generated power and having the company operate in harmony with environmental considerations and public opinion.

A climate action plan will be made in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Amongst other things it will include green incentives, forestry, land reclamation and substitution of energy sources in transportation. Efforts will be made to strengthen the green economy.

Transport

The transport system has come under substantially increased strain in recent years, due especially to the growth of tourism. In the light of this, more effort will be put into the development of transport in all areas. A good transport system is a key element in improving living conditions and increasing employment opportunities all over the country.

Emphasis will be placed on improving road safety and supporting efficient and easy mobility throughout the country by making use of the diversity and possibilities offered by the transport system as a whole. As a result, the transport system will be better able to serve the population as a whole and make it possible to spread tourist travel more widely over the country and to strengthen and support job creation in as many places as possible. More varied ways will be sought to finance the transport system, including pooled funding when that is feasible. Priority will be given to close cooperation with local authorities all over the country in the development of a transport infrastructure designed to meet the needs of the local inhabitants. The possibility of cooperation with the local authorities in the metropolitan area in constructing a “City Line” will be explored.

The government will use its influence to resolve the decades-long disagreement over the future of Reykjavik Airport by instigating formal talks between the transport authorities, the health authorities, the City of Reykjavik, other local authorities and interested parties. A decision will be made regarding the available options following an assessment, so permanently securing the infrastructure for domestic flights and emergency medical air services.

Regional Development

The government regards it as a priority to take deliberate action to strengthen regional development all over the country. Heating costs are an obstacle to residence in areas without geothermal heating systems. The establishment of broadly comparable living costs in terms of public utilities like electrical power and telecommunications is an important factor in a constantly developing regional policy. Regular reviews will be made, in cooperation with the local authorities, of access to services, amongst other things with a view to levelling the costs of legally mandated basic services. A special metropolitan policy will be developed in cooperation with the City of Reykjavik and other local authorities.

Steps will be taken to increase democratic citizen involvement by means including regional action plans. The project for laying optical fibre cables all over the country will be completed during the electoral period and an effort will be made to increase availability of jobs in economically disadvantaged areas through better telecommunications connections.

Exchange Rate and Monetary Issues

Efforts will be made to decrease the range of fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Icelandic krona. Such fluctuations cause instability and are one of the reasons why interest rates are generally higher in Iceland than in other countries.

The prerequisites of Iceland's monetary and currency policy will be reviewed, taking account of the changes that have taken place in the country's economic situation with the massive expansion of tourism and fast-growing foreign-exchange reserves. A Committee of Ministers will consult with the parliamentary parties and work closely with the Central Bank of Iceland, the social partners and external specialists, when appropriate, through the platform of the Economic Council. This work will be based on the findings of a report by the Central Bank of Iceland from 2012 on the country's options regarding the currency and exchange rates. This included an assessment of the implementation of the inflation target, a currency board, a fixed exchange-rate policy and various other options. The results of this work shall be made available during the first year of the electoral period.

The easing of the restrictions on the movement of capital will go hand in hand with the more robust and healthy economic situation of the country. One of the government's priority objectives is to take further deliberate steps in the programme for the liberalisation of capital controls.

Foreign Affairs

The pillars of Iceland's foreign policy are cooperation with other western states, European and Nordic cooperation, membership of the United Nations and NATO, the Defence Agreement between Iceland and the United States of America, and cooperation in the field of peace and security, in accordance with the newly-adopted National Security Policy. Partnership in the Arctic region must be considered carefully, especially within the Arctic Council. Continuing emphasis will be put on the liberalisation of trade and international cooperation in the fields of security and development. 

The government will base its cooperation with the European Union on the Agreement on the European Economic Area. Developments in the European Union must be closely monitored in the coming years and Iceland's interests must be safeguarded in every way in terms of the situation at any given time. Special attention must be paid to the possible exit of the United Kingdom from the Union.

The Althingi will closely monitor developments in Europe and strengthen ties with its counterparts in other European states.

The government parties agree that if the subject of a referendum on accession negotiations with the European Union is raised in the Althingi, the issue will be put to a vote and finalised towards the end of the electoral period. The government parties may have different opinions on this matter and will respect each other's views.

The Constitution

A review of the Icelandic constitution will be undertaken on the basis of the wide-ranging work that has taken place in recent years. The government will invite all parliamentary parties to nominate a representative for a parliamentary review committee which will collaborate with the most skilled specialists in the field of constitutional law in order to reach the best possible agreement on a proposal for amendments, which will be put forward no later than 2019.

It is an important goal that all amendment proposals should be thoroughly publicised and discussed before they are submitted to the Althingi and they should be given thorough treatment in parliament, in open meetings as appropriate. Consideration will be given to a review of constituency boundaries in the light of the experience gained from the most recent changes made. In parallel with this, electoral legislation will be reviewed with a view to simplifying it and increasing equality in the weighting of votes.