Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hoped that the Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme mooted by the Economic Survey will be implemented over the next one year in some parts of the country at least on experimental basis. The Economic Survey, authored by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, had suggested that the Centre may come out with UBI scheme under which the government should provide a minimum cash to poor people to meet their basic needs. Speaking at a function to release the book ‘India 2047 Voices of the Young’, Jaitley said under the proposed system UBI could be given to people and subsidies can be done away with.
“His (Subramanian) Economic Survey has been unconventional, very different from the past. This year, he wants to do away with the current system of subsidies altogether and substitute it with the UBI.
Let’s hope, by the time he publishes his next Survey, at least in some part of the country, his idea of the UBI gets experimented and therefore we start thinking on steps which overnight, at least where it is experimented, can bring poverty rates down. I think that will help us in reaching the destination 30 years from now,” Jaitley said.
In his first Economic Survey last year, Subramanian had flagged the issue of subsidies meant for poor benefiting the rich, an idea which Jaitley said had generated a “good debate”.
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The Minister further said that with the current pace of reforms it would be possible to significantly reduce poverty, create world class infrastructure and achieve high level of global competitiveness.
He, however, expressed concerns over issues like rising insurgency and social and caste divide which has increased since 1970s.
“In terms of growth, economic development, our place in the world — we can look at far more positive 30 years down. But the jury would still be out whether we would be able to get rid of these baggage (insurgency, social, caste divide). Because in last 30 years this is one area in which we have actually slided down on the index,” Jaitley added.