Iceland’s Finance Minister shoots down idea of ‘basic income’

Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has described the idea of a universal ‘basic income’ to be paid by the State to all citizens of Iceland as “one of the most completely ridiculous ideas I have heard in a long time”.

The idea of an unconditional ‘basic income’ to all citizens is being actively looked into by Iceland’s Pirate Party and is also under discussion in countries across the world, including Finland.

“The idea of ‘basic income’ is for all adults to receive a State payment, irrespective of whether or not they are in work – even well-paid work – of have other means,” writes Benediktsson, who is also the leader of Iceland’s centre-right Independence Party, on his Facebook page.

“It is one of the most completely ridiculous ideas I have heard in a long time.”

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson is not impressed with the idea.

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson is not impressed with the idea. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert Jóhannesson

“The national purse is not limitless and money should therefore rather be directed to those who really need support.”

“Should we reach a point in time when we have succeeded in providing generous support to those with less and dealt with other important matters (there are still many to go), then it is clear what we should do – cut taxes,” he concludes.

The Pirates moved a parliamentary bill just under a year ago to set the ball rolling on bringing in an “unconditional basic payment, aimed at bolstering people’s economic and social rights and eradicating poverty” and “wipe out certain in-built inequalities in society”.

The bill is now with Iceland’s parliamentary committee for welfare.

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