ECLAC proposes to establish a basic income to serve those affected by the pandemic

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) proposes to establish an emergency basic income, to attend to those affected by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, as pointed this Wednesday the agency’s Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcenas.

During a videoconference carried out by the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (Alba-TCP), she explained that as a result of the pandemic, an estimated 38 million people are unemployed, and extreme poverty can reach 83.5 million people.

“Almost 38 million unemployed people and an extreme poverty of 83.5 million. That is why we propose an emergency basic income that is equivalent to poverty, so that people may have a basic livelihood”, she said during the videoconference, broadcast by Venezolana de Televisión and in which participated the Venezuelan head of state, Nicolás Maduro.

This system, indicated Bárcenas, could be established for a period of six months, and thus it may allow the sustenance of existence itself, since the economy in Latin America and the Caribbean will fall by -5.3% due to the pandemic, which translates into worst contraction since 1930.

In addition, it is estimated that about 12 million people could become unemployed and the collapse of trade by -15%, which will generate a situation of poverty of 214.7 million, a 34.7% of the regional population.

The proposal specifies that tax revenues must be specified, since these are indirect and are aimed at Value Added Tax (VAT), falling into the problems of tax evasion, when the countries of the region require three times more income for social expenditure, which rounds around 2% in health and 4% in education fields.

Bárcenas highlighted that the indebtedness and the interest that the countries pay of the external debt, is around 2.6%.

She also emphasized the restrictions that countries currently have in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, to obtain or produce their own medical supplies and implements, reflected in 4% of production, and therefore she called for a real integration in order to get out of the crisis and face the virus.

“We must avoid to go 13 years backwards in social matters and head towards the construction of States and universal protection systems. (We must) avoid the destruction of productive capacity with subsidies, especially in order to retain the employment contracts of employees”, she reiterated.

She reflected that it is necessary to change the development model and focus on the population to promote a structure with greater equality and sustainability, of access to health and nutrition.

“We have an example of this in the region with countries like Cuba, Costa Rica and Uruguay”, she said during the videoconference.

She called for recovering food production and culture, given the great historical gaps, and specified that this is the right moment to promote new strategic sectors, such as universal policies and the transformation of an economy with more harmony.

For this, she expressed the need to integrate the countries of the region under the principles of solidarity, complementarity and cooperation, in order to generate structural transformations and the system of relations to achieve integral development.

A high-level video conference of ALBA was held this Wednesday, in order to discuss the situation of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the economic strategies that can be promoted in the post-pandemic era.