Members of parliament are requesting explanations as to why a controversial celebratory meeting of parliament at Þingvellir this summer in honour of the hundredth anniversary of Iceland’s sovereignty was allowed to go way over budget, RÚV reports. The cost of the event was just under 87 million ISK(795.101$, 679634,40€), more than 40 million over budget.
Most of the budget went towards building platforms and pathways, around 39.1 million. Just over 22 million went towards lighting, 9.2 million was spent on design and consulting and 4.6 million on electric cabling. According to the parliament’s website, the cost was allowed to go over budget because lighting and sound had to be of the best possible quality because the event was televised live and because the work that went into fixing walking trails in the park will have future benefits for visitors to Þingvellir national park.
The cost of lighting the event has especially raised questions, Vísir reports. According to Exton, the company in charge of the lighting, dozens of people worked on the lighting. In order for it to be bright enough, and to overpower the natural daylight, powerful and expensive lighting equipment had to be transported to Þingvellir on 6x6 ATV’s and helicopters.
The cost is not the only controversial aspect of the celebratory event. It was expected that several thousand guests would attend but only 300 people showed up, and among them were several protestors and tourists visiting the national park, according to Vísir. Another controversy was the decision to invite Pia Kjærsgard, president of the Danish parliament, to address the meeting. Kjærsgard’s politics are known to be divisive and her attendance was protested heavily in the Icelandic media. MP’s from the Pirate party did not attend the meeting to protest Kjærsgard’s attendance.