Switzerland considers paying people $3,500 monthly income for doing nothing

Switzerland considers paying people $3,500 monthly income for doing nothing

One of the world's richest countries could, in the near future, pay its residents a monthly income with no condition. Yes, you read that right - they could get paid for doing absolutely nothing.

Come June 5, the Swiss will vote in a referendum on the proposal of a basic income for all citizens. This income, according to CNN, would not be subject to any tax.

Although there is no amount specified in the submission, proponents have suggested that adults be given 2,500 Swiss francs (S$3,472) every month whether or not they have a job. They also suggest that each child receives 625 francs every month.

Those who support the idea argue that giving citizens a guaranteed income would not only eradicate poverty, it would also allow them the choice of walking away from jobs they did not want to be doing. The basic income, they argue, would also provide security to workers whose jobs could be replaced by technology.

One campaigner interviewed by Ruptly TV said that technology and robots should be used to do "hard work" for humans.

Opponents of the idea, however, point out that the basic income system would be too expensive to support, resulting in increased taxes and a shortage of workers, which in turn, forces businesses out of the country.

Not only that, the high cost would also make it difficult for the government to continue providing existing welfare or assistance programmes to those who need them, Bloomberg reported.

The Swiss government is among those who oppose the idea, saying it would damage the economy, and that the government would need 25 billion Swiss francs to fund the measure every year.

According to Bloomberg, a poll conducted in April showed that most citizens are not convinced by the idea of a basic income. Only 24 per cent polled said they supported the measure, while just 4 per cent said they were undecided.

At least two other countries have also considered the idea of a basic income system. Just last month, it was reported that Finland could replace its welfare programmes with a US$10,000 payout for residents every year. According to CNN, about 10,000 Finns will start receiving a monthly payout of 550 euros (S$844) for two years in a pilot programme next year.

Other similar testing programmes have also been considered in Ontario, Canada, and the Netherlands.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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