The best BIG is jobs

22 October 2020 | Opinion

The idea of a basic income grant (BIG), where the fundamental premise is that government gives every citizen a regular infusion of free money with no strings attached, has been around since the 16th century.

Not a single country in its entirety is known to have successfully implemented this idea. In the USA, it has been implemented in states like oil-rich Alaska and, in fairness, it has helped eradicate 'extreme poverty'.

A few years ago, the BIG Coalition in Namibia tried the idea on a pilot basis and it worked for selected communities.

Proponents of the idea argue that it is the best weapon to fight poverty.

But in our view, job creation is the absolute panacea to ending destitution in our country.

Namibia's vulnerable groups such the elderly, orphans and the disabled already receive their monthly grants.

And these safety nets have proven to be noble, but largely unaffordable. They have also diverted so much money from what would have been investments into productive sectors where employment could be created for those falling outside of the above-stated categories.

The danger with a blanket injection of cash into every citizen's pocket is that it would rob our economy of productivity, as many people would feel no need to work, even for themselves, if free cash is guaranteed every month-end.

Government can channel that cash towards subsidising basic necessities for citizens such as education, food and medical care, while still investing in job creation.

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