On June 5, Switzerland will take a radical economic decision on whether or not its citizens and legal residents should get a guaranteed income.
If the Swiss vote in favour, everyone will receive a monthly income of USD 2,600 (or INR 1,74,000) and every child will get USD 650 (INR 43,500) free of taxes.
Supporters of the proposal unload a truckload of coins on a street in Bern. Stefan Bohrer / Wikimedia Commons
It is not that the citizens or legal residents will get the full amount in all circumstances. The Swiss government will pay whatever is over and above a beneficiary’s income up to the approved monthly income.
This means that anyone earning USD 1,500 per month will get USD 1,100 more from the government bringing his minimum income to USD 2,600. If a person does not earn any income, only then will he be granted the entire amount. Swiss regulations stipulate that for any proposal to be opened to the people for voting must first obtain at least 1 lakh signatures.
Backers of the minimum income proposal during a campaign. Denis Balibouse/Reuters
The proposal was backed by intellectuals and celebrities including publicist Daniel Straub, Zurich rapper Franziska Schläpfer and writers Adolf Muschg. But this overtly socialist policy is finding many critics in the Alpine country.
There are indications that the people of Switzerland might not support this proposal. Even the government is not keen on it because of the fear that it could affect the economy.
Though Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world, this proposal would mean an increase of USD 200 billion in annual expenditure for the country’s exchequer.
The government has already warned the people that there will be increase in taxes if the proposal gets a green signal. Moreover, the Swiss are generally hardworking people and are not inclined to stop working irrespective of what the proposal’s fate is. Surveys have indicated that there is, however, a small percentage of people who might not work at all.