Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) also known as Alaska Dividend is the closest policy to basic income in the world today. It has been paying dividends to all citizens (residents who have lived within the state for a full calendar year and intend to remain a resident of Alaska) of Alaska since 1982. The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), a portfolio of diversified assets, was created in 1976 and the government annually invests small part of the state’s oil revenue in the fund. PFD derived from the returns of the APF’s investments is essentially universal, individual, non-conditional, uniform, regular, and provided in cash. The annual payment fluctuates from year to year in line with the markets and is small relative to the measures of poverty.
In 2010, Iran became the first country to introduce basic income to its citizens, a policy that emerged as the country reformed its system of oil subsidies. It shared some features with the Alaska model in that it was based on oil as a natural resource. Oil subsidies were partially cut by raising prices of fuel products and the Iranian government decided to earmark part of the net proceeds (oil revenues) to finance an unconditional cash transfer program to every Iranian residing in the country and was equivalent to around US$40-45 per month. However, the scheme started facing difficulties within a year of introduction and the comparatively well-off citizens (2.5 million) were asked to voluntarily opt out. These withdrawals did not prove effective in halting Iran’s growing budget deficit and another 3.3 million Iranians were removed from the programme (based on assessment of their financial situation) in January 2016. Later in April 2016, the government approved a bill that would result in loss of cash payment to one-third of the Iran’s population (would be cut off between September 2016 and March 2017).
Brazil was the first nation in the world that has passed a law on basic income; its National Congress approved a law to institute an Unconditional Citizen’s Basic Income. The BolsaFamilia (Family Grant) programme was launched in October 2003, by combing 4 different cash transfer programmes that had been implemented till then. This includes The Bolsa Escola (School Grant), the BolsaAlimentação (Food Grant), the AuxílioGás (Cooking Gas Grant), and the CartãoAlimentação (Food Card) programs. This scheme mainly targets children and women as beneficiaries and families must ensure that children attend school and are vaccinated and regular health check-ups are also recommended. The scheme has enabled a reduction in poverty and a World Bank survey finds that it did not discourage working, but in fact encouraged harder work and entrepreneurship. The ReCivitas Institute, a non-governmental organization based in Brazil has also undertaken projects in basic income in Brazil. During 2008 to 2014, 100 residents of the Quatinga Velho village were given a basic income of 30 Brazilian Reais (about US$ 9) per month, in cash. ReCivitas launched a new project, Basic Income Startup In January 2016 and as of January 16, 14 residents of Quatinga Velho have basic incomes of 40 Reais that they will retain for at least 20 years.
In Namibia, a Basic Income grant pilot project was carried out (at Otjivero), wherein all residents received a basic income. The project results were excellent, and resulted in reducing child malnutrition, better clothing, and transportation, reduction in crime and rise in entrepreneurship, resulting in a local multiplier effect. In spite of the outstanding results, the approach has been changed and a programme called Harambee Prosperity Plan has been launched.
In June 2016, Switzerland held a vote on basic income (the first country to do that). The proposal was to guarantee every adult citizen and long-term resident an unconditional monthly income of 2,500 Swiss Francs and each child an income of 625 Swiss Francs. The higher amount reflects the high cost of living in the country. The referendum was overwhelmingly rejected with little more than three-quarters (77%) of the voters opposing the plan. The reasons for rejecting the referendum and included concerns on budgetary implications, against the principle of giving people money for doing nothing.