D O L I N G W E L FA R E

If Fin­land’s plan to give 800 euros a month to cit­i­zens works, it will re­de­fine ‘wel­fare state’

The Financial Express - - COMPANIES -

It is an idea that could change the way coun­tries pro­vide sub­si­dies to cit­i­zens. In­stead of sub­si­dis­ing a va­ri­ety of ser­vices and the costs as­so­ci­ated with it, Fin­land plans to in­tro­duce a monthly univer­sal ba­sic in­come (UBI) of 800 euros tax-free to all adults in the coun­try start­ing this year. That would mean an an­nual spend of 52.51 bil­lion euros for the Fin­nish gov­ern­ment. The money will go to all cit­i­zens and can be used for any­thing they want. Un­der the pro­posal be­ing con­sid­ered by the Fin­nish So­cial In­surance In­sti­tu­tion (Kela), the UBI would re­place all other ben­e­fit pay­ments. Ac­cord­ing to re­search done by Kela, around 69% of the Fin­nish pop­u­la­tion is open to the UBI. In re­turn, wel­fare ser­vices will be with­drawn.

It all de­pends on what all could stop. Cur­rently, there are no tuition fees at uni­ver­si­ties across Fin­land, be it for lo­cal or overseas stu­dents, though there are plans to start charg­ing this year. It also has a gen­er­ous state-funded med­i­cal and wel­fare ser­vices glob­ally. As wel­fare pro­grammes stop, it is ex­pected to free up re­sources to fund the UBI. Sim­i­larly, the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who are re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that the wel­fare sys­tem works will no longer be needed. It is ex­pected to clean up the cur­rent sys­tem and gen­er­ate enough funds for the gov­ern­ment to pay cit­i­zens 800 euros a month. Also, once it starts work­ing and peo­ple pay for ser­vices, the amount could be in­creased. De­pend­ing on the suc­cess of the Fin­nish model, other coun­tries could fol­low suit soon. It is a model that In­dia needs to track closely.

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