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Finland Unveils Universal Basic Income Scheme

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Finland has become the latest country to experiment with a Universal Basic Income (UBI) policy, with 2,000 unemployed citizens scheduled to receive a guaranteed minimum monthly income of €560 (US$587) over the next two years.

The scheme was launched January 2, by Finnish social insurance agency KELA, in the hope it would alleviate poverty, reduce bureaucracy and boost employment in Finland; presently, 8.1% of the country's 5.5 million-strong population is out of work.

​Recipients, who are randomly-selected, are still entitled to receive the benefit even if they find work — a contrast to current rules, under which unemployed Finns lose benefits commensurate with their in-work income.

​Marjukka Turunen, head of KELA's Legal Affairs Unit, said the test-run was the first step in a planned series of experiments that would test a variety of basic income solutions:

"For someone receiving UBI, there are no repercussions if they work a few days or a couple of weeks. Incidental earnings do not reduce the basic income, so working and self-employment are worthwhile no matter what. People working part-time or temporarily do not have to report the number of hours they work or to fill in various forms. The income is paid in advance at the beginning of each month, so recipients can count on having the money at their disposal."

​Attempts to trial and implement UBI have been ongoing worldwide for some time. 

Bern - Sputnik International
Swiss Basic Income Vote Sparks Discussion Despite Failure to Pass

In June 2016, 76.9 percent of voters in Switzerland rejected its proposed introduction. Under the plans, every Swiss citizen of working age would receive a monthly guaranteed stipend of 2,500 Swiss francs, although the plans were branded a "Marxist dream" by critics, who foresaw sizeable spending cuts and/or tax increases to fund the scheme, and economic chaos arising from citizens quitting their jobs en-masse.  

In early 2015, the scheme was tested in Utrecht, Netherlands. In November 2016, a UBI scheme was launched universally in Ontario, Canada on a two-month basis, with each citizen receiving US$1,320 every month. The policy has increasingly gained in popularity in recent years, as the proliferation of automation and artificial intelligence threatens jobs in numerous sectors.  

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