Estonia's opposition Free Party decided to establish a working group aimed at analyzing opportunities to introduce basic income in Estonia and its possible impacts on society.
Chairman of the Free Party Artur Talvik said that for self-sufficient citizens in Estonia to be for or against the implementation of basic income, it is necessary to be familiar with the existing analyses and experiences of Alaska, Finland and Switzerland in this tfield.
Party board member Vahur Kollom, who is also chair of the working group, said that the discussion will involve visionaries, demographers, sociologists and taxatin specialists in order to reach a decision at the beginning of 2018 regarding whether and what kind of basic income would benefit the development of Estonia. On the subject of basic income, the party's leadership has in mind people's various opportunities to contribute tosociety and the living environment as well as take advantage of additional opportunities for self-development and life-long learning.
"Paying basic income is one option for modernizing the relationship between a scientifically and technologically developed state and a person and their surroundings," Talvik said.
He emphasized that the subject of basic income does not only belong to the left-wing worldview and noted that there was much to learn concerning the feasibility of basic income in Estonia from free market economy promoter Milton Friedman, who had recommended basic income as part of the fight against red tape, which has increased more and more with the system of benefits distribution.
"In modern Estonia, it is necessary in the name of further development to know and want to contribute more to the development of society, commit to charity work and nonprofit activities," Talvik said. "Basic income could be the basis for that."
Changes in tech, job market, population important factors
Dicussions regarding basic income in Estonia have seen a lot of different topics behind the term. Kollom cited as an example various benefits currently being paid out, which are dependent on age, health, employment and participation in in life-long learning. The fast development of technology and engineering, the disappearance of existing traditional jobs and a change in population are important factors when it comes to discussion about basic income.
"When analyzing opportunities for basic income according to the principles of free conservatism, we will likely find new additional values for the shaping of future activities," Kollom said.
The Free Party stands for self-sufficient and enterprising citizens and considers it important that all benefits paid are needs-based and will not create a poverty trap chain.
"If the analysis finds that basic income is not the right measure for the development of Estonia and for achieving a better place in the global happiness index, the same work may result in discovering some other option which will limit increasing red tape and promote taking the initiative," Talvik added.
Editor: Aili Vahtla