Initiative launched for guaranteed income

Signatures are being collected for a proposal aimed at introducing an unconditional basic income for everyone living in Switzerland.

This content was published on April 12, 2012 - 16:03 and agencies

Organisers of the initiative, launched in Bern on Thursday, consider a guaranteed income a civil right and stressed it was neither a redistribution initiative nor a call to abolish social welfare.

The group, including a former senior government official and an ex-chief economist of a leading Swiss bank, has 18 months to collect at least 100,000 valid signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

They believe that with a basic income of SFr2,500 ($2,730) – children would receive a quarter of that – everyone could live in “dignity and freedom”, without being plagued by existential fears.

Organisers estimate costs at SFr200 billion a year. Of this, some SFr110 billion would come from a tax on consumer spending and SFr70-80 billion from savings on social services. They left open how the remainder would be paid for.

However, opponents argue the initiative is far too expensive and encourages people to be lazy.

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