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Open Letter Date: 20 April 2020
To: Whom It May Concern
The IMF’s response to COVID-19,
How the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus)
Why not try a Global Universal Basic Income?
I would like to quote International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva “What more can be done? How can countries take charge of their own situation?” and modify the last phrase ‘How can people take charge of their own situation?’ I suggest that another approach is required so that financial support can reach poor people in low and middle income countries quickly, ensure the use of funds is transparent and accountable and poor governance can be avoided. An important way to achieve these objectives is the creation of a new global institution called ‘Global Universal Basic Income Facility’.
The purpose of such a new institution will be the financial security of all people during the COVID-19 crisis and afterwards. The financial support can be channelled directly to people with states and their governments serving only as intermediary to distribute the money. This will considerably reduce the risk in states with sometimes dubious governance credentials. A global Universal Basic Income (UBI) puts humans first and the economy second. It adds a new global institution to support and reinforce the moral value of human dignity enshrined in our Human Rights Declaration.
This global UBI will not only be an important tool to support people during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but as a new institution it will also create more resilient people, communities and societies. Unfortunately we can expect more environmental dangers due to climate change. We can prevent some environmental dangers, e.g. floods and droughts, turning into major disasters for people, if every person receives such a UBI for food, clothing, shelter, mobility, communication and information. Even if the initial UBI covers only food and clothing as a first step, it would be an important improvement on the actual situation.
UBI is urgently needed now in low and middle income countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at the global level. Most of these countries have a huge informal economy. Poor people can only practice self-isolation, self-quarantine and physical distancing, if they have basic financial security for their livelihood. If your organisation thinks that the leaders of governments, international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) including the IMF and World Bank (WB) and transnational corporations of our world should take action and introduce a UBI at the global level to fight the COVID 19 pandemic, please promote this concept and include it as part of your anti-poverty and anti-corruption policies and initiatives.
In terms of financing a global UBI I have the following proposal. The historically accumulated economic capital should be treated as part of the Global Commons and be shared among humanity, especially in view of slavery, colonialism, climate debt and debt due to environmental destruction and resource depletion. A global UBI can be one way of sharing this wealth of economic capital among humanity and repay the debts to people who had the misfortune to be born into a less prosperous economy or family of our common planet. I know that my suggestion is probably too sensitive for some organisations and therefore I can understand, if you do not want to include the financing proposal of UBI in your approach.
We would like to thank you in advance for considering our suggestion,
Reinhard Huss MD, MPH (On behalf of UBI Lab Network UK)
6 May 2020 – An opinion piece in The Guardian written by two Nobel prize winners of economics supports the concept of a Universal Ultra Basic Income for ‘developing’ countries: Coronavirus is a crisis for the developing world, but here’s why it needn’t be a catastrophe