"I think it's unbelievable"

Jakobsdóttir talking to some of the employees working on the …

Jakobsdóttir talking to some of the employees working on the bypass hot water pipeline yesterday. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Prime Minister Katrín Jakóbsdóttir tells us that with a provision on purchase prices based on 95 percent of the fire insurance value of buildings in Grindavík, the so-called Grindavík housing bill has included consideration of equal treatment for those who have damages at the Icelandic Natural Disaster Insurance and have a certain amount of own responsibility.

“The law [on natural-disaster insurance] also includes a fire- insurance value assessment, so we’re trying to ensure equality with those who have been damaged by natural disasters both before and after,” says Jakobsdóttir, who had been in Svartsengi yesterday when mbl.is caught up with her yesterday evening.

She points out that the bill is open for comments in the Government’s consultation portal until tonight “and we’ll hopefully try to work on it a little bit, of course, there are all kinds of comments coming and it’s hard to say that one size fits all in this”, the minister says, and says the government have been thinking about the residents’ interests in the making of the bill. “We’ll try to ensure equal treatment before and after natural disasters.”

The housing bill for the residents of Grindavík is now …

The housing bill for the residents of Grindavík is now open for comments until tonight. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

People’s circumstances are very different

When asked about a note about transferring loans to other assets, Jakobsdóttir replies that the idea was to reach an agreement with the financial companies, and the banks are part of this agreement. “This means that they are involved in financing the project, and that means that people don’t transfer the loans with them,” Jakobsdóttir says. “But of course, people’s circumstances are very different, and some people have taken out loans at very favorable terms, it’s different between individuals,” she continues.

The bill that has been presented is the result of the Government's work and comments on it will now be considered. "They will be given an account when the matter reaches Parliament and then we will have to see what changes it will make in the way it is handled by parliament," the minister says.

Part of the ideology behind the bill is that the project is being funded in collaboration between three parties, Nature-Disaster Insurance, the government, and the banks. “It would be complicated to deviate from that ideology [...] and it could well be that this bill will take some changes, but this is of course a fundamental part of the structure, that the banks will be involved in the funding.”

What about employers and legal entities in the region?

“It was clear when we introduced these measures that we would prioritize the population and that is our primary obligation, and, the same priorities that are generally applied in connection with natural disasters, the same laws that have been applied to the Flooding Fund, for example,” the minister replied.

Working on the new bypass hot water pipeline.

Working on the new bypass hot water pipeline. mbl.is/Eyþór

Temporary operational support

On the other hand, it is necessary to look at the continuation of the project. Jakobsdóttir says that the government has introduced temporary operational support to companies. “Then it is necessary to look at how this will be carried out in the future, because this operational support is of course only temporary,” she says, and then answers that the next task is actually to look at what time frame will be there. When the housing bill becomes law, it is time to look at that part of the matter.

The final question to Jakobsdóttir is how she can relate to all the events that happened in Grindavík in such a short time.

“I think it’s unbelievable. It’s incredible to see this lava field, but also to see what’s been done here in practice. Man’s struggle with the forces of nature can be seen here, and it’s truly impressive to see it with your own eyes,” says Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

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