Tuesday, 08.05.2018

Panel Discussion: Universal Basic Income

Unconditional basic income for everyone: for a long time, it was considered an idealistic utopia and impossible to implement in any society. However, this time seems to be behind us as the concept gains more and more attention again. This leads us to questions that need answering.


On 8th of May, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted its first event about the topic of a universal basic income in Latvia. As a public event, members of the audience were heavily engaged as well and contributed to the discussion with their own thoughts and ideas.

The following questions were in the center of concern: Is the universal basic income a good way to replace the benefit system? Is it not going to create an even bigger gap between the poor and the rich? Can universal basic income promote job mobility and encourage people to acquire new skills? Is it a solution for the shrinking job market due to the development of artificial intelligence? What is the international experience?

After an introduction by Christian Krell (FES Nordic Countries) Boriss Cilēvičs (MP, Social Democratic party "Harmony"), Roberts Putnis, (Chairman, Political party „Progresīvie”), Feliciāna Rajevska (Associated Professor, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences), Jānis Reirs (Minister of Welfare, Political Party "Vienotība"), Ģirts Rungainis (Investment banker), and Pēteris Viņķelis (Chairman of Ethics Committee, Political party „Kustība Par!”) exchanged their thoughts and ideas in a lively debate.

While glancing over to Finland and their experiment with a basic income, the discussion was mainly concerned with the question on whether a basic income would decrease motivation to engage in the labour market and learn new skills. Of course, funding is a big issue as well, therefore this was a particularly heavy discussed point.


Photo: Providus

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