An increasing number of British newspaper publishers and columnists are beginning to challenge the overall national perception of the week’s events regarding the President of Iceland’s decision to send the Icesave Bill to the nation. According to Michael Hudson in The Financial Times, Icelanders have been offered a way to describe their fears that the country could literally be ruined by taking on irresponsible or unnecessary levels of debts and interest rates.
The common misconception in earlier news coverage has been that the President’s rejection of the Icesave Bill is a refusal to pay the debt and uphold the country’s obligations. On the contrary, the Icelandic nation has already agreed to compensate the UK and Netherlands. The decision by Olafur Ragnar Grimsson stems from the fact that over 70 percent of Icelanders find the terms of the current deal unreasonable.
Jon Danielsson, a commentator for The Independent, says that the overall amount involved might not seem excessive – around GBP 3.5 billion – but with only around 300,000 people living in Iceland, that equates to about GBP 40,000 per family. The annual interest alone, if adjusted for population size, would be the equivalent of the UK paying over GBP 40 billion a year, almost half the cost of the National Health Service (NHS).
David Prosser, The Independent columnist, says that Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister, often talks about how politicians must take tough decisions, “but he will not have faced up to many dilemmas like the one that’s troubled Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in recent days,” he said.
In the meantime, the readers of The Guardian’s website are voting on an informal poll entitled ‘Should Iceland be forced to pay?’
The poll was due to close today but has been extended for another three days and only one vote is allowed from each computer. Over 87 percent of respondents have so far chosen “No, it’s only a small country, give them a break” over the alternative, “Yes, a debt is a debt”.