SPAIN is preparing to roll out a universal basic income in a bid to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19.
Economy Minister Nadia Calvino revealed the plans during an interview on La Sexta last night, saying it will help families suffering severe financial losses owing to the pandemic.
But Calvino also said the move could become a permanent fixture of the Spanish economy.
She said it could be something that ‘stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument.’
That would be a first for Europe after Finland went as far as trialling UBI for two years but stopped short at making it a permanent policy.
UBI sees every citizen given a monthly stipend from the government, with amounts often varying on factors such as age or where the person lives.
On a global level, there have been several trials but they have only lasted for short periods and were designed for a particular portion of the population.
Only Iran has had some form of a long-term UBI programme, with money being transferred into individual family accounts on a monthly basis since 2011.
It is not yet known when the UBI relating to COVID-19 will be rolled out in Spain, but the country is set to remain on lockdown until at least April 26.
Meanwhile the economy has taken a battering, with April among the most important months for tourism revenues with dozens of festivals and Holy Week celebrations cancelled.
Sevilla alone has lost more than €1 billion in tourism losses due to the cancellation of its Feria de Abril and Semana Santa, which usually attract millions of tourists.
There are a growing number of advocates of universal income lately in the mainstream (Elon Musk, Bernie Sanders) and nowadays when automation is taking over jobs it might be the right direction. If Spain decides to implement this (and with success) I wouldn’t be surprised if other countries would follow a similar path.