Photo: Courtesy of johan10
Barbados is ending 2021 with a bang. First, Barbados severed ties with the British monarchy. Then, it crowned Rihanna (a Barbadian native, as well as a global star and one of Barbados' most high-profile philanthropists) as an official national hero. Now, the country wants to give all of its citizens a universal basic income (businessinsider.com).
Universal-basic-income (UBI) programs differ from typical welfare programs in that they are government initiatives in which every adult citizen is given a regular set amount of money with no strings attached (businessinsider.com). In response to the financial strain the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for people with low incomes, UBI programs have surged in popularity recently worldwide (businessinsider.com). A true UBI program like Barbados is proposing allocates funds to all of its citizens, not just a targeted income group (businessinsider.com).
According to a recent comment on Facebook by Avinash Persaud, the special envoy to the prime minister of Barbados on investment and financial services, the Barbadian government intends to regularly give back to its adult citizens some of the income produced by the country (businessinsider.com). Because Barbados, like many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, has suffered financially from the pandemic, "Persaud proposed that citizens receive regular payments through a citizen's dividend, which typically gives residents sums of money based on government investment in natural resources" (businessinsider.com). For example, the Alaska Permanent Fund gives Alaskan residents of the United States yearly stipends based on profits from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., which is owned by the state and funded by oil revenue (businessinsider.com).
As Business Insider reports, "Persaud suggested that a citizen's dividend for Barbadians could be combined with the annual reverse tax credits that residents already receive to form a universal basic income. Barbadians who earn less than 25,000 Barbadian dollars a year—about $12,386—are eligible for a reverse-tax-credit grant of 1,300 Barbadian dollars, or about $644, a year" (businessinsider.com).
In a World Bank survey of Caribbean and Latin American households released December 2021, at least half the respondents said they had not reached their income levels before the pandemic (businessinsider.com). The implementation of a UBI program will hopefully fill this gap for Barbadian citizens.