Sikkim’s ruling party proposes universal basic income in new manifesto

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Sikkim may become the first state in India to provide a universal basic income (UBI) for all its residents, as the ruling party, the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), has announced that UBI will be a part of its manifesto in the 2019 Assembly election.

The party said the scheme, to be implemented via unconditional direct cash transfer, will be implemented by 2022.

“Our party and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, who is the longest serving Chief Minister, are committed to bringing in Universal Basic Income. This, we will do three years of coming back to power in the state,” Prem Das Rai, SDF MP in the Lok Sabha told The Indian Express.

The 2017 Economic Survey had called UBI as “a conceptually appealing idea”.

The hydroelectric power surplus state that exports about 2000 MW to the rest of the country can use the money it earns from it for the scheme, he said. Putting cesses on tourism revenue is also being considered, he said.

The state election is due along with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The state had a poverty rate of 8.19% in 2011-12, which was 41.43% in 1994.

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