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Category Archives: Basic Income Guarantee

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King talks climate, economy and highs and lows in Part 2 of his year-end interview with The Guardian – The Journal Pioneer

Posted: January 3, 2020 at 7:41 am


One issue that was on the minds of Island residents this year, as well as a hot topic around the world in 2019, is climate change.

And the most notable climate story in P.E.I. was the effects of post-tropical storm Dorian.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King told The Guardians political reporter Stu Neatby in a year-end interview that the storm provided a learning opportunity for the new government.

Part 1 of the interview appeared online and in the Dec. 30 edition of The Guardian. The following is Part 2, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Guardian: Looking at the impacts on the Island, what lessons did we learn in terms of how to manage emergencies, climate storms like that?

Dennis King: This was a big one. It impacted a broader area than we had first anticipated.

On Sunday, Monday morning (after the storm) we thought, "oh, well we seem like we've missed the brunt of this." But if you've ventured outside the city of Charlottetown and you drove all the way to Tignish, to Souris and you knew the impact of the Trees.

The one thing I would say I hope we learned from this is, as much as you possibly can be, you have to be extremely flexible in this. You have to be able to pivot quickly. But you also have to keep the Islanders informed to the best extent that you can because we live in an age where everything is immediate.

But I do think we did an amazing job as a province with the first responders getting done what we needed to get done in a short time. It was a horrible mess. Luckily, we didn't have any lives lost, we didn't have any major infrastructure or buildings that fell down. We'll just learn from it and try to take from it what we need to and prepare for the next storm, which we know is coming.

TG: You're likely to start negotiations on carbon pricing with the federal government in 2020. Do you imagine Prince Edward Island will see a similar backstop from what you've seen for provinces like Ontario or Manitoba or will we continue on with a drop in excise taxes?

DK: The agreement we inherited from the previous government was probably an ease into the process of the carbon levy and how that will be applied going forward. I would probably suggest that we will evolve a little bit from that current one.

I would like us to continue to make investments to incentivize Islanders to make sure that we work to become more environmentally friendly on carbon reduction. But I think Islanders are in a better position to be open to accepting a greater responsibility when it comes to carbon reduction.

But also, I think there's a greater opportunity for Prince Edward Island to find the economic opportunities connected to the changing environment. Probably early in the new year I will be wanting to put together some kind of a task force to be a little more aggressive when it comes to finding the new economic opportunities wrapped within the environment.

All of that, I think, will be included in that carbon discussion going forward. I think there is probably a fair expectation from the federal government that we be a little more open to carrying more of that burden going forward.

TG: The economy is humming, job growth is up, but still people feel there's a disconnect. Why do you think some people feel they've been left behind by the strong economic performance of P.E.I.?

DK: I think it's a phenomenon that you see on the national scene as well.

But if you spend time, as I do, walking around, talking to people, there's a sense and a feeling that people at the upper middle part of that are doing very well. But there's a sense that there's people under that who don't feel that they're getting as big a piece of it.

You'll probably see in the weeks ahead that we'll do some more sharing of some of the revenues with some people at the lower end and social services. You're going to see another increase in the minimum wage.

I do think we have to find a way to make sure that more of our economy is shared.

TG: It almost sounds like you're talking yourself into a scheme like a basic income guarantee. Do you think that's the sort of thing we need to address some of the challenges out there?

DK: I've been very impressed in the premise of a basic income guarantee. I've been doing a lot of studying on papers from the U.S. about a job guarantee. Is there a hybrid model for P.E.I. that we can follow or chart the course for? I don't know.

I would like to find a made-in-P.E.I. way to do this. I think we're small enough to be able to do that. There is a flicker of interest at the federal level to be open to seeing what we could do. I'm hoping to exploit that a little further in the new year.

TG: Recently, your minister of agriculture introduced changes to the Land Protection Act. There will be more transparency around shareholders, an increase in fines for people who violate the provisions of the LPA. Do you think these changes were enough to close what some people have called the loopholes in the LPA?

DK: I think they're a positive first start. I think we've been committed since the beginning that this is an issue that successive governments have kicked down the road for a long time. So, I think these are important first steps that we're taking to close some of the most glaring loopholes, if that's what we want to call them. But there's much more to be done.

Look, agriculture's our biggest economic contributor. It's a huge, huge boost to the tax purse. That's how we're able to fund social programs, all the things that we've been doing. So, we have to be very careful in how we proceed with this. But it is evident to me and it has been for a long time that Islanders want to see some changes here.

TG: In 2019, you became premier, you became head of your political party. What's been the highs and lows?

DK: At my very root I'm a political junky as well. That I went to the lieutenant-governor and she asked me to form a government, that was pretty exciting for me. I would have never thought a year before that was even possible.

In terms of lows, the pace at which government works makes it difficult to do things quickly. There's lots of things I'd like to do more quickly, but I'm finding (with) a bureaucracy of thousands of people spread out across P.E.I., it's difficult.

But I love the fact that we have a minority government. I think it's the greatest gift I've been given. I love the way we're operating. I'm very, very proud of that and I'm really excited to see what it brings.

It's (a) minority, so I don't know if we'll be here in a year or if you'll be with somebody else. I have no idea. But I'm going to just take every day as it comes and just try to do the very best I can for Prince Edward Islanders and to make their lives a little bit better.

Due to technical issues, the online portion of Stu Neatby's interview with Premier Dennis King will not be available until later in January. Watch The Guardian for confirmation of the date.

RELATED:Dennis King reflects on year one of P.E.I.'s 'grand experiment'

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P.E.I. Premier Dennis King talks climate, economy and highs and lows in Part 2 of his year-end interview with The Guardian - The Journal Pioneer

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We need to test whether our millions in education aid is actually working – Financial Post

Posted: at 7:41 am

By John Richards and Shahidul Islam

Canada is back, the Liberals told the world on returning to office in 2015. Henceforth, Canada would play a meaningful role in world affairs, including providing effective development aid. Gender equity headlined the press releases but not much attention was paid to the best means of creating equity, namely quality schools accessible to both boys and girls. In 2016-17 Canada spent nearly $400 million on development aid to education, most of it in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Was it effective? It did allow for the building of schools, buying of textbooks and training of teachers. But whether more children learned to read and do basic arithmetic no one knows because, to our knowledge, Canada undertook no learning assessments on any projects.

Coincidentally, 2015 marked the end date of the UNs campaign to improve social outcomes in the developing world. The first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG1) was to eradicate extreme poverty. The second (MDG2) was universal primary education. Good quality primary education is arguably the most important prerequisite for a low-income country aspiring to get to middle income. After completing the primary cycle, most children should be able to read and write the common language and do basic arithmetic though this will happen only if the education system is of reasonable quality.

In the case of the health MDGs, aids effectiveness can be evaluated unambiguously. For instance, measuring the success of MDG4 a two-third reduction from 1990 to 2015 in a countrys under-five mortality rate is relatively easy. Measuring outcomes in education is more complex. Realizing this, many governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the regions with the worlds weakest school systems, gamed MDG2. For instance, in 2009, in India, the national government enacted a right to education act. The result has been higher enrolment, higher completion rates, fewer dropouts and worse outcomes.

In South Asia, government spending on primary schools is typically too low. But there is no guarantee a donors cheque to a national education ministry improves outcomes. In four of the five major South Asian countries Sri Lanka is an honourable exception ethically dubious interest group politics poses a major obstacle to quality education. It is common in much of South Asia for politicians and bureaucrats to oblige applicants for a government teaching position to pay the equivalent of US$10,000 for the job. In exchange, supervision is lax and teachers frequently offer their students private tutoring for a fee. Applicants who get the jobs typically receive little training and are unlikely to be those most devoted to teaching children.

In India, the most widely accepted measures of quality in basic reading and numeracy are random in-home surveys conducted bi-annually for over a decade by Pratham, a large NGO. In the 2018 survey, 400,000 children ages six to 16 were assessed on reading and arithmetic items from the Grade 2 curriculum. Only 50 per cent of the national sample of Grade 5 students could read a short story while only 28 per cent could solve subtraction and division problems. Those results are, respectively, six points and nine points lower than in 2008. Its no surprise that the decline occurred in the years immediately following the 2009 legislation, as state-level governments increased enrolment with little concern for school quality.

Further evidence of quality problems is that families with modest incomes are abandoning government schools. One-third of Indian children now attend low fee private schools while others attend NGO or faith-based schools. Some of these schools have worse outcomes than government schools but, on average, outcomes are superior at these non-government schools.

Atishi Marlena, a prominent Indian education reformer, has boiled down the essentials for a good public school system to three imperatives: provide quality school infrastructure; ensure a system to identify and hire motivated teachers; and focus on objectively measured learning outcomes and minimum levels of learning for all children. Perhaps the key determinant of improving the persistently low quality of education in government schools, she concludes, is political will. Until political elites decide education outcomes matter, South Asias next generation both boys and girls will remain poor relative to East and Southeast Asia.

If Canada wants its $400 million of education aid to be effective, it should be insisting on independent assessment of what children actually learn in aid-supported projects.

John Richards teaches in Simon Fraser Universitys School of Public Policy and works extensively in Bangladesh. Shahidul Islam served in USAID missions in Bangladesh and Afghanistan and is currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto.

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A modern method of cutting poverty: Investigating what Universal Basic Income will mean for Northern families – Mancunian Matters

Posted: December 13, 2019 at 3:16 pm

As part of a radical reimagination of the welfare system in Britain, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has announced plans to roll-out Universal Basic Income (UBI).

The scheme, which will entitle every British citizen to a monthly tax-free allowance, will likely be trialled in the north of England if Labour were to win the upcoming General Election.

UBI trials in Finland, the only advanced economy to launch such a widespread scheme, found that those who had benefited under the scheme had reported significantly higher feelings of self-worth and stability than they had before.

Curiously, it appears that the policy itself seems to have support from across the political spectrum.

Indeed, economists on both the left and the right have argued for UBI as a source of personal empowerment, providing citizens with more choice over work, education, training, leisure and caring.

Practically speaking, for those on the left, UBI would be a modern method of cutting poverty and inequality in a way that is fitting for the 21st century and, for those on the right, it could guarantee a less bureaucratic and, therefore, more streamlined welfare system.

With jobs in many sectors looking increasingly under threat with the rise of technology and automation which experts forecast could threaten up to a third of current jobs in the west within 20 years UBI could help to keep families afloat financially while breadwinner earners retrain or enter full-time studies, for example.


Some critics, notably John Kay, the former director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, fear that UBI would be too expensive.

Kay said: If you do the numbers, either the basic income is unrealistically low or the tax rate to finance it is unacceptably high. End of story.

However, Mr McDonnell remains convinced of the benefits.

He said: The reason were doing it is because the social security system has collapsed. We need a radical alternative and were going to examine that.

We want to do it in areas that have been hit hard by austerity.

Well look at options, run the pilots and see if we can roll it out. If you look at the Finland pilot it says it didnt do much in terms of employment but did in terms of wellbeing things like health. It was quite remarkable.

And the other thing it did was increase trust in politicians, which cant be a bad thing.

The think tank Compass has suggested the total cost of the UBI would be as high as 300bn, however, under the changes to taxation outlined in Labours fully-costed manifesto, it is likely that this will be well-covered. For them, UBI can deliver social justice in a manner that is fit-for-purpose in a modern economy.

Compass have stated: The basic income would update the British system of social security for the 21st century. All households would enjoy greater certainty about future income, directly tackling growing economic and social insecurity.


For shadow chancellor McDonnell, the north appears to represent the perfect testing ground for the scheme.

Id like to see a northern and Midlands town in the pilot so we have a spread, he said.

I would like Liverpool of course I would, Im a Scouser but Sheffield have really worked hard. Ive been involved in their anti-poverty campaign and theyve done a lot round the real living wage.

I think those two cities would be ideal and somewhere in the Midlands.

Studies conducted by HMRC in 2017 concluded that Manchester has one of the highest rates of child poverty by local authority area in the UK, with 35.5% of children under 16 living in poverty.

Alarmingly, this figure is concurrent with the situations facing a host of cities in the north of England. In Liverpool, the same report claims that 32.7% of children under 16 were living in poverty, with the figure in Sheffield around 25%.

McDonnell does concede that the idea is undoubtedly left-field, however, he feels with the right strategy the scheme could make a real difference to families in the North.

Of course its a radical idea, he said.

But I can remember, when I was at the trade unions campaigning for child benefit and thats almost like UBI you get a universal amount of money just based on having a child.

UBI shares that concept. Its about winning the argument and getting the design right.


Some have argued in the past that such a programme would effectively lead to the dismantling of the welfare state, however, these fears were quickly rebuffed by experts such as Guy Standing, the founder and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network.

He is in favour of maintaining benefits for the most vulnerable people in society even with the introduction of McDonnells scheme, something he stresses is affordable.

There is no reason why a city or country could not afford to have a basic income for everybody, says Standing.

In Britain, tax reliefs for the wealthy and corporations come to about 400bn a year this by itself could be used to pay for a basic income for everybody.

Its not something that is unaffordable its a matter of priorities.

Although no fee has been disclosed regarding how much those involved in the pilot stand to receive per week, it is worth noting that in March of this year, McDonnell came out in agreement with a proposal put forward by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) think tank who posited that a figure of 48.08 a week should be paid to every adult over the age of 18 earning less than 125,000 a year.

The NEFs proposal outlined that the cash would not replace benefits and would not depend on employment, something Guy Standing confirmed was entirely achievable.

The NEFs blueprint, which forecasts that some 88% of all adults would see their post-tax income rise or stay the same while helping to lift 200,000 families across the country out of poverty, has also been welcomed by the Green Partys Caroline Lucas.

In Manchester, currently 1 in 47 children are homeless according to the housing charity Shelter. Nationwide, at least 135,000 children are expected to be homeless or in temporary accommodation across Britain on Christmas day the highest number for 12 years.

Perhaps, UBI could offer the catalyst for turning the tide in this most appalling of situations.

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The Guardian view on Finlands new PM: a different type of leadership – The Guardian

Posted: at 3:16 pm

The worlds happiest country, according to an international survey two years in a row, is now one of very few to have a female leader. Finlands Sanna Marin, who is 34, will become the youngest serving prime minister when she is sworn in later this week. In setting this record, the Social Democrat follows in the footsteps of another young, progressive PM New Zealands Jacinda Ardern, who was 37 when her Labour party won the 2017 election, and the first woman to give birth in office since Pakistans Benazir Bhutto (the male, 35-year-old prime minister of Ukraine, Oleksiy Honcharuk, was the worlds youngest PM for three months in between).

Finland, which was the first country in Europe to grant women the vote in 1906, is often regarded by those on the left as something akin to utopia or at least a shining example of what a big-spending, socially liberal government can achieve. Its well-funded universal education system is among the most successful in the world. Between 2017 and 2019 it ran one of the first trials of universal basic income. This summer a new left-leaning government pledged to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035 a target accurately described by Finnish Greens as probably the most ambitious in the world.

The four other parties in the new coalition are all headed by women, three of them in their 30s. New Zealand has more than 40% women in its House of Representatives (compared with 32% in the UKs last parliament). But should we make connections between the personal characteristics of a countrys leaders and its political culture as a whole? Is it a coincidence that these two nations, often viewed as progressive beacons, both have women in charge (while Ms Marin will become Finlands third female prime minister, Ms Ardern is New Zealands third)?

A female leader is certainly no guarantee that a country, or a party, has a progressive outlook. The UKs two female prime ministers have been Conservatives. Angela Merkel is a Christian Democrat. The French far right is led by Marine Le Pen. Neither are female voters or politicians necessarily any more liberal, social democratic or environmentalist than men. While Ukip and the Brexit party have never been as popular with UK women as they are with men, national populist parties in continental Europe do not have the same problem, and 53% of white women in the US voted for President Trump.

But at a time when the political life of so many nations (Brazil, India, Hungary) is being reshaped by leaders in a strongman mould, Finland and New Zealand are reminders that there are alternatives. Academic evidence on the impact of more diverse representation shows that previously marginalised groups do gain as a result of an increased focus on policies to advance their interests. Far from feeling hamstrung by her reliance on coalition partners, Ms Ardern told the Guardian that building consensus is an aspect of her job that she enjoys. To suggest that all female politicians are more adept at this style of working would be to stereotype. But just as Greta Thunbergs leadership has given new energy to the climate movement, it is heartening to see a new generation of women in government to address some of the many challenges that we all face.

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Want to Retire in Harmony? Make Sure All Parts of Your Plan Are in Sync – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Posted: at 3:16 pm

A retirement plan is a lot like an orchestral score, and when all the pieces come together it can be a beautiful thing. Are you making music, or could your plan use a tuneup?

If you love music, and symphony orchestra performances especially, youve no doubt reveled time and again at how the whole thing comes together so magnificently.

The strings, percussion, woodwinds and brass sections each have their part all equally important. But without the conductor, I suspect most concerts would be chaos. Its the conductor who makes sure each instrument comes in at precisely the right time fast or slow, soft or loud as he or she interprets the score. To do that, the conductor must learn every part of every piece of music to be played and have a fundamental knowledge of every instrument and artist who will play it.

You can probably guess where Im going with this.

So often, when I meet individuals and couples who are planning for retirement, theyre doing it on their own and without much thought to what they need or when theyll need it. They might have a jumble of investments, each of which sounds good on its own, but those instruments arent necessarily working together to create the retirement theyve envisioned.

Much like an orchestra conductor, this is when a financial planner could come in and help turn the chaos to harmony. The right adviser should have a fundamental knowledge of all the investments and strategies available, as well as the ability to put together a comprehensive retirement plan that addresses each individual clients needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses.

There are five important parts in a comprehensive retirement plan that should play well together.

Many pre-retirees I meet have been diligently saving money in a tax-deferred retirement account (such as an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.). Some may also have a pension benefit through their employer. And, of course, theres Social Security. But as they near retirement, most people need guidance on how to combine those income streams to create a reliable paycheck to replace the one they received while working. If you were told youd need less income in retirement, that isnt necessarily true particularly in the early years, when people generally are more active. Younger retirees usually have plans to travel, golf, dine out and do the things they couldnt do when they were employed. An income plan will help determine whats possible. And if your income will drop in retirement, a plan could help stretch your dollars further.

Your portfolio should work hand in hand with your income plan. Its important to be sure your investments are allocated appropriately based on your risk tolerance and your short- and long-term objectives. While saving for retirement, your goals may have been more focused on growth and accumulation and you may have felt more comfortable with a higher exposure to risk. But in retirement, your allocation should be significantly different. If not, you could be in for some sour notes during a market downturn and if a big loss happens just before or after you retire, it could be devastating to your nest egg.

Pre-retirees often underestimate how much theyll end up paying in taxes in retirement. If you dont prepare a long-term plan, taxes could take a sizable chunk out of your nest egg. Your adviser should make tax strategies a priority and be able to tell you how the money you withdraw from retirement accounts, including required minimum distributions (RMDs), could affect your tax bracket from year to year; if (and how much) your Social Security benefits will be taxed; and if your income could cause you to pay more for Medicare.

People tell me all the time that they dont ever want to become a burden to their families, and yet, they often fail to plan for expensive health care and long-term care costs. According to the 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the national median cost of a home health aide in 2019 is $4,385 per month, a private room at an assisted living facility was $4,051 and a semi-private room in a nursing home was $7,513. Those bills are seldom covered by Medicare, and they can quickly deplete a retired couples resources. Looking at options to offset those costs before they get out of hand can make a big difference in the quality of care retirees receive and lower the possibility that they might have to rely on others for help someday.

I think most people hope to leave some sort of legacy to their loved ones or favorite charity. But making those wishes a reality is far more complicated than simply telling your children what you want them to have. The most basic estate planning tool is a will, and thats all it takes for some families. But a will often must go through the probate process, which can be expensive and invasive and doesnt guarantee your wishes will be followed. Though it isnt always necessary, a trust may be a better option for you and your family. Its definitely something you should discuss with a financial adviser and/or an attorney. Dealing with a death is difficult enough. Whatever your plan includes, it should be as clear and issue-free as possible.

When all the parts of a retirement plan work in sync, its a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. But its a lot to think about especially if youre still working and dont have time to research every investment tool and strategy. A knowledgeable and experienced financial adviser could help fine-tune your portfolio and lead you through each new and necessary movement, whether its the markets that are changing or your life in retirement.

Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. A Registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cooper McManus, a Registered Investment Advisory Firm. Link Financial Advisory, Cooper McManus and Securities America are not affiliated.

Richard London is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and founder of Link Financial Advisory ( As an independent financial planner, he goes into the market and finds the best solutions and strategies for his clients. Richard grew up and lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children, and he holds a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

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Broadband for All could revolutionize wifi in UK, if it’s possible – Inverse

Posted: November 30, 2019 at 10:22 am

The British Labour Party wants to provide the United Kingdom with free, full-fiber broadband by 2030. Its a plan that could revolutionize how internet is used in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which combined have a population of over 66 million people but whether it can deliver is a hot topic of debate.

On Thursday, the party unveiled its manifesto for the general election scheduled for 12th December. Its plan for government includes a large-scale shift to renewable energy by 2030, strengthened workers rights, a referendum on a renegotiated Brexit deal and a large-scale investment program. But on top of plans to nationalize water, energy, mail and rail, four pledges previously included in the parts 2017 election manifesto, it also included a plan to part-nationalize telecoms firm BT and offer broadband internet for free.

When the party announced the policy seven days prior, it sparked widespread discussion. Conservative Party prime minister Boris Johnson derided it as crackpot and BTs chief network architect Neil McRae dismissed it as broadband communism. Commentator Ash Sarkar noted in The Guardian that the National Health Service, which offers free universal healthcare at the point of use, was met with similar derision prior to its launch in 1948.

When Inverse asked Alzbeta Fellenbaum, principal analyst for IHS Markit, a Londonbased data broker, what Labours plan is and how it differs from the current setup, her first reaction was to laugh.

Its kind of hard not to look at this and see it plainly as an election spiel and a stick to wave into the electorates face, Fellenbaum says. I would say that it is quite challenging to achieve [] to nationalize a broadband network and to provide a free broadband service on top of it.

It could prove a long shot. With elections held at least every five years, theres no guarantee that Labour would remain in government long enough to even complete its planned rollout.

But in a country where just eight percent of premises have access to full-fiber broadband, it could spark the interest of the 92 percent without access and help support other future technologies like 5G. And while some argue for a universal basic income to cope with rising job losses from A.I. and automation, experts like Steve Wells argue instead that the focus should be on providing universal basic services for all naming broadband as an example of an ideal basic service.

Unlike the United States, its best to consider broadband access as coming from two different entities: the infrastructure provider, and the actual service provider.

To understand the British broadband market, we have to take a dive into a company called BT. The firm calls itself the worlds oldest communications firm, dating back to 1846 as the Electric Telegraph Company, which gradually expanded to include other telegraph firms. In 1870 these firms were nationalized and taken under the control of the General Post Office. In 1982, Margaret Thatchers government formed and privatized British Telecom to open telecommunications up to private competition.

The countrys communications regulator, Ofcom, decided in 2005 that BTs position was unfair. The company owned and operated the phone network, limiting the choices of consumers that wanted to get online. Openreach was formed in 2005 to enable fair network access to third parties, and in 2017 it became a separate company fully-owned by BT.

This makes the current broadband setup quite different from the United States. In the U.S., internet providers maintain the infrastructure that provides services directly to the home. This creates a monopoly in some areas, and in others leaves consumers with little choice about who to use as a broadband provider.

In the U.K., over 640 communications providers offer services through Openreachs network. A 2018 government report found that Opeanreach-powered providers cover 80 percent of the market: BT with 37 percent, Sky with 23 percent, TalkTalk with 16 percent, and the rest on four percent.

In 2010, Openreach started upgrading its old copper network to fiber-to-the-cabinet connections. These offered higher speeds, but the use of copper between the cabinet and the home limit their performance. Openreach has started rolling out a fiber-to-the-home network, which currently covers around 1.5 million homes. As of January 2019, around 95 percent of British homes could access broadband of at least 30 megabits per second.

So what if you dont want to use the Opeanreach network? There are two main exceptions to this. The first is Virgin Medias network, which uses its own cable network. Its available to 45 percent of homes, and the company commands 20 percent of the market. The other is fiber-to-the-home networks more akin to the American model, where firms like Hyperoptic sell internet access directly to the consumer. These comprise less than one percent of the market.

The partys manifesto states that it would establish a new, publicly-owned firm called British Broadband. This would have two arms: British Digital Infrastructure, essentially taking on the role of Openreach, and the British Broadband Service, which would offer the actual internet service to consumers.

The manifesto states that it would bring broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership, generally assumed to refer to Openreach. As part of the transition, Labour would also offer a jobs guarantee for all workers in existing broadband infrastructure and retail broadband work. Openreach alone employs around 32,000 people.

Apart from some parts of London and some of our major cities, everywhere I go, theyre saying, oh, weve either not got broadband or the speeds that we need, its holding our economy back, John McDonnell, the partys shadow chancellor, essentially the financial spokesperson, told the BBC.

The party is aiming to offer free full-fiber broadband to all, assumed to mean fiber-to-the-home. BDI would be tasked with rolling out the final 90 to 92 percent of this network and acquire the needed rights to existing infrastructure. The rollout would start with those worst served by current networks.

Labours supplementary funding booklet cites figures that suggest operating costs would equate to around 230 million ($297 million) per year due to efficiencies in fiber. This would be covered by a tax on big tech firms, calculated as a percentage of sales in the U.K. and global profits, estimated previously by McDonnell to raise up to 6 billion ($7.7 billion).

Taking a firm under public control, the party claims, would be fiscally neutral as bonds would be exchanged for shares like in previous nationalizations. McDonnell told Channel 4 that the parliament would set the price of compensation.

The party would raise the current governments planned 5 billion ($6.5 billion) broadband strategy to 20 billion ($26 billion), using funds from the planned 250 billion ($323 billion) Green Transformation Fund.

As for the consumer? Its expected to save them 30 ($39) per month.

Labours plan is essentially two ideas: free broadband, and a full-fiber rollout by 2030.

I think it is feasible, Fellenbaum says, referring specifically to the rollout of full-fiber by 2030. I think, actually, it does not differ from the previous Conservative governments plan, which was [to deliver] nationwide [fiber-to-the-home] coverage by 2033.

One case study that has become a regular point of comparison is Australia. The National Broadband Network, or NBN, was launched in 2009 with the goal of full-fiber to 93 percent of homes for $49 billion ($33.4 billion). Its since expanded in cost and reduced in size, and Bloomberg decried it as the blunder down under. The Guardian, however, notes that Australia is 32 times larger with one-third less people, and the NBN was started when the vast majority only had copper connections. British Broadband would be taking over at a point when fiber-to-the-cabinet is commonplace, which brings it much closer to the end goal.

Proponents of the privately-owned model argue that Openreach has helped improve the end product for consumers. Matthew Howett, founder and principal analyst at Assembly, said in a statement that the almost cut throat competition between broadband rivals has meant faster speeds, improved coverage and lower prices for consumers up and down the country. Its important to note, however, that research from price comparison site Cable ranked the U.K. 21st out of 29 in terms of cost-per-megabit internet access.

A report from consultants Frontier Economics analyzed the prospect of a fully-nationalized full-fiber network. It found that it could result in a lower cost of capital, but with lower quality and innovation and potentially challenging to implement.

However, there are some question marks around the free British Broadband Service. What would happen to the competing internet providers? McDonnell suggested after the announcement that they could be nationalized as well: We will come to an agreement, if necessary they can come within the ambit of British Broadband itself.

Fellenbaum notes that flicking the switch could be easier said than done. With firms like TalkTalk and Sky having invested in the Openreach network, she suggests the government may have to offer buyouts or even face legal action over those firms suddenly losing their market. Indeed, the Frontier Economics report noted that there could be a three-to-five-year waiting period before the rollout gets fully underway.

Prime minister Boris Johnson pledged over the summer to roll out full-fiber broadband to every home by 2025. This was seemingly revised by September to simply gigabit-capable networks to the hardest-to-reach 20 percent of the country, which can also cover technologies like 5G and DOCSIS 3.1 cable communications. Its expected to cost 5 billion ($6.5 billion) over the stated period. The Conservative Party has not released its manifesto for the forthcoming election at the time of writing.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have pledged a less precise program of installing hyper-fast, fiber-optic broadband across the UK with a particular focus on connecting rural areas.

Whether Labour will be able to implement its proposal is unclear. At the time of writing, the Britain Elects poll tracker has the Conservatives on 41 percent, Labour on 29 percent, and the Liberal Democrats on 15 percent.

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California higher education hangs in the balance as UC, Cal State search for new leaders – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 10:22 am

In a rare confluence that will shape the future of California higher education, the states two top university jobs are open, high-profile vacancies that position its leaders as national pacesetters because of the size and status of the two systems.

The dual searches at the University of California and California State University have generated a daunting list of desired job qualifications. The new chiefs will be expected to figure out how to meet enormous admission demands, increase student diversity, raise academic achievement, lower costs, secure stable sources of money and deal with fierce politics. All this while improving the quality and prestige of two of the nations most popular and renowned public university systems.

And this must be accomplished with limited state funding and salaries well below their comparable peers.

They probably are two of the most important institutions on the planet in terms of their role and mission, said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University who is viewed as one of the nations most innovative higher education leaders and is often mentioned as a potential candidate for the UC job.

The native Californian said he was too busy doing my job as hard as I can to even think about either position.

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, summed up the ideal skills as walking on water with a thick skin.

The two jobs open after the recent announcements by UC President Janet Napolitano and Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White that they will step down next summer share broad similarities and significant differences.

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, and Timothy P. White, chancellor of the California State University, have both announced that they will be stepping down from their positions.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Cal State is the largest and most diverse four-year university system in the nation, educating 482,000 students on 23 campuses who are drawn from the top 40% of Californias annual high school graduates. The system is often referred to as the job engine of California, filling many of the states most pressing workforce needs, including half of the teachers and more than half of the nurses.

The 10-campus UC system educates 280,000 students who rank in the top 12.5% of the states senior class and is Californias lead generator of PhDs, in addition to its bachelors and masters degrees. The system is distinguished by its massive and top-ranked research enterprise, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories and an overall budget of $37.2 billion, bigger than those of more than 30 states.

Both systems enroll far higher proportions of low-income and first-generation students than do similar universities in other states. But both are struggling to close achievement gaps for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority students.

The UC job is probably the most complex and challenging job in higher education, said Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Assn. of American Universities, which represents North Americas top 65 research universities. It could also be a very exciting job because the platform the UC system has is enormous and enormously important.

Napolitano has been credited with using that platform to support immigrant students and sexual assault survivors. But some higher education leaders say the next UC president must step up to champion an even broader task: marshaling public support for the value of a university education amid mounting skepticism about rising costs and perceived political biases.

The UC regents recently released a list of 29 criteria for the next leader based on closed-door consultations with committees of students, staff, faculty and alumni. The top two criteria have drawn particular attention: knowledge of the academic enterprise and a demonstrated track record promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

The regents themselves are believed to be the most diverse board in UC history, with both Chairman John A. Prez and Vice Chairwoman Cecilia Estolano of Mexican descent and nearly half of the 26 voting board members Latino, African American and Asian American. Prez has said UC particularly needs to work harder to increase geographical diversity, as most students come from urban areas.

Faculty were thrilled by the regents stated preference for candidates with exceptional academic administrative experience and the highest possible degree in their field. At recent faculty town halls at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, participants lamented that regents ignored their desire for an academic in the last presidential search six years ago when they selected Napolitano, then U.S. Homeland Security secretary and a former Arizona governor.

Although many faculty eventually came to appreciate Napolitano, they said it took time for her to learn how to manage the UC system and consult with them on key issues as required by the UC tradition of shared governance, which gives the Academic Senate a uniquely powerful voice in university operations.

Other top priorities named in a UC Santa Barbara faculty survey were a commitment to academic freedom, shared governance, research, graduate education and budgetary transparency.

At both sessions, faculty members complained about the secrecy of past search processes. Regents, however, have announced that they would hold open public forums at UC Davis on Dec. 13 and at UCLA on Jan. 14.

Cal State has held four public forums, with two more planned at its campuses in San Marcos on Dec. 3 and in Fresno on Dec. 5. At a recent Long Beach forum, speakers said they wanted the next chancellor to champion full access to all eligible applicants, more faculty diversity, support for students with disabilities and increased programs for prison inmates.

For their part, UC students want a leader who is familiar with California public education and will commit to meet regularly with them, as Napolitano did, said Varsha Sarveshwar, a UC Berkeley senior and president of the UC Student Assn. Top issues, she said, include affordable housing, food security and meeting the basic needs of all students.

UC insiders say hundreds of names will probably be submitted for an initial look before the field is narrowed to serious candidates and a decision is made by regents, possibly next spring.

Potential candidates named at the faculty meetings included Crow and F. King Alexander, president of Lousiana State University who previously headed Cal State Long Beach for seven years and has made a national mark with his advocacy of greater federal partnerships and state public funding for higher education.

In an interview, Alexander said key challenges for California higher education were the enormous demand for seats in university systems with limited capacity and state funding levels that, while recovered from deep cuts after the Great Recession, remain well below levels two decades ago. While more online learning is part of the answer, he said, the state must increase funding if it wants to remain the nations beacon of affordable higher education.

Asked if he was interested in either job, Alexander said he is leaving his options open adding that his wife is particularly fond of the weather in Long Beach.

Its a great place, he said. California public higher education is kind of like the Rose Bowl the granddaddy of them all.

Crow is both widely admired for his visionary rebuild of traditional higher education models and criticized for his aggressive use of educational technology.

In an interview, he said UC and Cal State both need to figure out how to better use technology and innovation to vastly open access to both traditional college students and adult learners. He also said campuses need more freedom to launch entrepreneurial projects and partnerships that can help them raise money and lessen dependence on state funding.

Crow has used all of those approaches at ASU, building enrollment to 120,000 students more than one-third of them online in what he calls a New American University model that offers wide access over the selectivity favored by many elite universities.

The old model has run its course, Crow said. Its time for new ways to engage while not giving up one iota of quality or one iota of excellence.

Other names mentioned for the UC job include Michael Drake, who is stepping down next year from the helm of Ohio State University and who previously served as chancellor of UC Irvine and UC vice chancellor for health affairs. Under his leadership, Ohio State set all-time highs in student retention and graduation rates, diversity, applications and research expenditures while reducing debt burdens. He also launched a tuition guarantee program for each incoming class of students, a model that UC regents are currently considering. Drake could not be reached for comment.

Past and present UC chancellors and Cal State presidents may also be considered.

Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said former legislators and governors should not be overlooked because educators who came up through the ranks are not always willing to shake up the status quo as needed. UC, he said, needs a leader willing to look at the systems at-times inefficient use of facilities and relatively light teaching loads.

For outside candidates, one potential sticking point could be pay. In 2018, Napolitano earned $627,000 in total compensation and White $493,000, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education database. Drake earned $1.2 million and Crow $1.1 million, two of 17 university leaders whose pay topped seven figures. Pay at top private universities is even higher.

The challenge for all public universities is that many, many candidates view those [top] positions as patently unattractive, said Richard Chait, a Harvard University professor emeritus of higher education. Public university presidents are embroiled in a thicket of politics, constantly in the crosshairs, and the money is not there.

But Robert Anderson, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, predicted plenty of candidates will be drawn to the California opportunities in order to make a difference in such a large, diverse state and move the needle both nationally and globally.

I really dont believe someone will come to this job for a paycheck, said Mitchell of the American Education Council. The right person will come to this job for a mission and a legacy.


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Food shopping at dollar stores – Brantford Expositor

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Many of the community's "working poor" appear to be getting their food from convenience stores instead of grocery stores, according the results of a recent survey.

"One possible reason for the use of convenience stores and dollar stores to buy food might be the lower upfront costs as compared to grocery stores," according to a report prepared by the Brant Food System Coalition in partnership with the Brant County Health Unit that was presented to city councillors Tuesday night.

"Despite food from convenience stores and dollar stores being less in quantity and poorer in quality, the lower upfront cost may be a key factor for people who are on a limited budget."

The coalition is urging further exploration of the issue.

The survey, conducted between July 2015 and April 2016, aimed to determine the barriers to getting food and to identify where people get food as well as gauge the awareness and interest in food-related programs. It followed a 2013-14 study by the health unit that found that 10 per cent of Brant households experience some degree of food insecurity.

The survey, completed by 309 people, also found higher incomes and improved access to transportation would help those who sometimes have difficulty securing enough food. It is not considered representative of the whole community because the respondents were clients of local food programs.

Most of the respondents were aged 20 to 39 and were single without dependents.

About 28 per cent said they were recovering from an illness or had a disability, while about 22 per cent said they were working either full- or part-time.

Almost half of respondents with jobs found it hard to get enough food sometimes or all the time, the survey found. Such individuals likely would be considered "working poor" -- people who don't earn enough money to live on, the report says.

"The survey results support the need for employers to pay a living wage for people to be able to lead a healthy, productive life, or a poverty reduction strategy such as the basic income guarantee," the report says.

The cost of food also was a factor in some people not being able to get enough food, the report noted.

Despite the challenges, there is reason for optimism, Carol Haberman, a public health dietitian at the health unit, told councillors,

"There are exciting things happening with respect to the local food system," said Haberman, citing the Brant Food Forum and the Action Against Poverty Forum.

There is also plan to develop an initiative to help bring food closer to those who are in need and have trouble getting to grocery stores, she said.

As well, the community is also part of the province's basic income pilot project.

"It will be interesting to see how that impacts food insecurity," she told councillors.

Haberman was also asked if an increase in the provincial minimum wage would help address some of the local challenges.

"It's a good question but there are a lot of other factors that come into play," Haberman said. "I can't really say.

"We'll have to wait and see."

Haberman was also asked if she sees a lot of abuse of local programs that provide food to those in need.

"There may be a small number who may take advantage of the system but what I see is people in crisis," said Haberman, adding that she would like to see a time when food banks were no longer necessary.

Going forward, the coalition aims to work with poverty reduction groups, continue to educate the public about the link between poverty and food insecurity and adapt food-related programs to meet local needs.

Brantford Expositor 2017

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How Cities Can Rebuild the Social Safety Net – CityLab

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Toby Melville/Reuters

In an age of employment uncertainty and a growing income gap, urban America needs to find new ways to support its citizens.

Think about the good jobs of the past. Whether it's a much-lamented coal miner or a factory worker that pops in your head, what made their work good? It wasnt the day-to-day tasks themselves, but the economic security it providednot just the benefits and pay, but the stabilizing value it brought to individual households, communities, and society itself. In short, the good jobs of yesterday strengthened the safety net.

Today, we see the service sector replacing secure factory positions. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that restaurants are now creating more jobs than manufacturing and miningadding nearly 200,000 to the economy since January. As The Atlantics Derek Thompson recently wrote, these positions are responsible for big chunks of urban job growthmore than a third of Clevelands new hires since 2015 were in restaurants, for example. Many of these types of positions offer fewer, if any, benefits, more onerous and less predictable schedules, and a typical hourly salary of $12.50not a wage that supports a family in most of the country.

Such low-wage growing for now positions are also in a very tenuous position: Upwards of 47 percent of U.S. jobs at risk over the next two decades due to advances in technology, and workers earning below $20 per hour face a greater than 80 percent chance of displacement.

This age of employment uncertainty means that city leaders will need to help build a new urban safety net to help support their citizens. Its also an opportunity to right the wrongs in the existing system and infuse equity into the equation. Here are four ways cities can help prepare for the future of work.

Make benefits portable

On-demand and contract work has become increasingly common in the modern economy. Freelancers now make up 35 percent of the workforce, and since these gig-economy jobs don't have benefits tied to employment, portable benefits are an option whose time has come. These benefits are connected to individuals rather than employers, and typically include paid leave, health insurance, workers compensation/unemployment, and some sort of retirement fund matching. Proposals for this type of system vary. Some suggest that benefits should be universal and administered by the government or a public/private institution created for such a purpose. Others say they should be administered by non-governmental community-based groups. Either way, portable benefits have the potential to support those who work outside the realm of the traditional 9-to-5 economy.

Most potential programs involve adding a surcharge to be paid by either the company or customer that would remit to a pool of funds for contract workers within a certain jurisdiction. The long-standing New York Black Car Fund is one such model, where fees are collected by the state from for-hire rides to help pay for workers compensation and other shared benefits. While it is still early to see a wide swath of initiatives carried out, in late 2016 the New York City Council proposed a law that would provide portable benefits to taxi and ride-hailing drivers. Additionally, legislative initiatives have been pursued in New York state and the state of Washington. There is even a proposal in Congress spearheaded by Senator Mark Warner of Virginiaso expect to see portable benefits explored more all across the country.

Require employers to provide paid leave

Women make up an ever-expanding portion of the workforceapproximately 47 percent of the U.S. workforce and the majority (51 percent) of workers in professional and technical occupations. And while studies show weve made strides in the disbursement of family and household responsibilities between men and women, existing policies put people with children at a distinct disadvantage. The U.S. only offers unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act, making it an extreme outlier amongst other developed countries, which have robust paid leave requirements.

With little substantive movement on this issue at the federal level, many cities are moving to right this monumental wrong. In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors mandated six weeks of paid parental leave for workers, and California followed suit with a statewide policy. This long-overdue policy gives parents the opportunity to maintain their careers while starting a family, helps organizations retain employees who might otherwise opt out for financial reasons, and brings stability to the workforce and economy.

Let people with criminal records join the workforce

Nearly a third of American adults have some type of criminal record, and communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration policies.

More city leaders agree that past indiscretions shouldnt prevent citizens from contributing to society, and theyre doing something about it.

Reducing employment barriers for those with criminal records through efforts like ban-the-box, which discourages employers from requiring disclosure on job applications, creates opportunities to engage more people in the labor force. To date, more than 100 cities have taken measures to eliminate employment barriers for otherwise qualified individuals who have records. As corrections institutions shift their programs from punitive to rehabilitative, cities must reassess policies that keep individuals with non-violent criminal records from actively participating in the workforce.

Explore universal basic income

As income inequality deepens, one anti-poverty policy proposal thats gaining some global support is universal basic income (UBI), which would guarantee every citizen a regular, unconditional sum of money to bring people up to an economic baseline. A pilot project involving 100 households is currently taking place in Oakland through funding from Y-Combinator. Finland and Canada are running pilots funded by their national governments, and even here in the United States we held government-run city experiments in the 1970s. Proposed basic income programs share similarities to existing social welfare systems, with the major exception being that the benefit is universal and unconditionalregardless of age, ability, class, or participation in the workforce.

Advocates of UBI come from various camps, but generally fall into one of several categories. Many from the tech industry tout basic income as a way to counteract the economic blow of automation replacing jobs currently occupied by humans. Other supporters argue that basic income is more streamlined, efficient, and transparent than currently administered social welfare systems. Finally, there are some who endorse the idea of less work overallarguing that a basic income can free up the time individuals currently spend workingallowing people to pursue more creative and enjoyable pursuits.

All of this being said, in this particular moment in American political life, the idea of a national program that would support UBI is probably somewhere between slim to none. Many critiques of basic income center on how it will be sustainably funded and the cultural implications of instituting such a system. Even in more progressive countries in Europe, there has been a bit of resistance to wholly decoupling social support from work. In many ways, a number of the proponents for UBI are merely laying the groundwork for what is to comea time when automation and AI take hold more fully and disrupt a wide swath of the workforce.

What city leaders can really draw from this broader discussion is a need to plan more intently for workforce shifts, think critically about current versus future employment sectors, and re-examine how and if there are ways to support people independent of their role in the workforce. Regardless of the potential solutionsour National League of Cities research provides a broad array of ideas on how city leaders can approach the future of work and the period of great challenges but also great opportunities to come. It is a safe assumption that what is imagined as the future today might not come to passthere are a wide range of potential career paths that are not even on our radar screens.

Our current social safety net was built for a different age. The urbanizing America of the mid-20th century faced a myriad of distinctive challenges that precipitated the need for the foundational safety net createdSocial Security, Medicare, and more built strength in our society. Much of the privatized safety net we all now knowretirement plans, employer provided health care, and leave policiesgrew based on the construct of a single employer for a career. But, those times have faded and the urban America of today faces vastly different economic concerns. We need a re-imagined toolkit that focuses intently on broad scale wealth inequality and the urban-rural fractures that were hardly imaginable in the Greatest Generation era of our grandparents. Now is the time for cities to lead the country forward, innovate, experiment ferociously with nationally scalable solutions, and ultimately, build a safety net for 2017not 1947.

Brooks Rainwater is the Senior Executive and Director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities.

CityLab is committed to telling the story of the worlds cities: how they work, the challenges they face, and the solutions they need.

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Universal Basic Infrastructure to help decrease India’s poverty – Economic Times

Posted: August 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm

With over 200 million people still below the poverty line and a similar number earning barely enough, much needs to be done to improve their lives. While faster growth is an obvious antidote, the view that some sort of universal basic income (UBI) may be needed to provide immediate relief is gaining currency. The UBI must be embraced in a deliberate, phased manner as it allows reform to occur incrementally weighing the costs and benefits at every step, the Economic Survey of FY17 had said.

The idea of universal income support has been under discussion for several years but the first real push was given by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian in the Survey. While UBI could be more of an imperative in developed countries where manufacturing and services are moving to the developing world, India has tremendous scope for improving job creation along with strengthening its social infrastructure that in turn could lift millions out of poverty. As a result, the idea, which has seen some global success, is yet to take root in India.

According to the Survey, identified beneficiaries can be given a choice of UBI instead of subsidies under existing programmes. Based on FY12 level of distribution and consumption, the Survey estimated the income needed to take one person out of poverty at Rs 7,620 per year.

The Survey said UBI that reduces poverty to 0.5% of population would cost 4-5% of GDP, assuming that those in top 25% income bracket do not participate. The existing middleclass, food, petroleum and fertiliser sops cost about 3% of GDP. While DK Pant, chief economist of India Ratings, is in sync with the proposal to replace other subsidies with UBI, he is apprehensive of how best can beneficiaries be identified.

Unless you identify beneficiaries, the government will not be able to assess cost implications. The next challenge will be to monitor the progress. However, ensuring that all citizens have the right to a minimum income as a long-term solution to reduce poverty seems to be a distant dream with not many in the government and academia believing the option is viable.

Even if you take 2011-12 urban poverty line as Rs 1,000 in nominal terms, per person it translates into Rs 15 trillion for a population of 1.25 billion whereas the Central budget is somewhere (in the region of) Rs 21 trillion.

Hence, it is not fiscally feasible, outgoing Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya said. He said the socioeconomic and caste census available can help identify beneficiaries while the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme enables self-identification. Most experts believe that before supplementing the income of countrys over 200 million poor, India should put in place basic infrastructure for health, education, sanitation and drinking water to ensure a basic standard of living.

India still has a huge deficit on the social infrastructure side and unless we ramp up... there is no point in giving a little extra income,said another senior government official requesting not to be identified. The official said UBI has become imperative in developed countries to ensure a peaceful society or their youth will become disruptive in the wake of jobs migrating overseas.

UBI is not a bad idea but does the country have that much money? is essential that government significantly increase its expenditure on creation of social infrastructure which will help to bring poor people into the mainstream, said Himanshu, assistant professor of economics at JNU.

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