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Finland scraps program that gives out ‘free money’

2018-04-25

Finland’s basic income pilot program that paid out $685 a month to 2,000 randomly selected people is coming to an end.

The Finnish government, which began the “free money” program in January 2017, announced Tuesday that the money-for-nothing gravy train will stop at the close of 2018, as originally planned.

The government denied a request from its social benefits agency, KELA, to expand the program.

“I’m a little disappointed that the government decided not to expand it,” Prof Kangas, a researcher at the Social Insurance Institution (Kela), a Finnish government agency, told the BBC.

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The program was established to perk up the economy in Helskinki, seen here, and across Finland.

(OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The experimental payout, heralded as the first of its kind in Europe, was supposed to pump up the economy in the Nordic nation. When the trial went into effect, unemployment in Finland was 9.2%, higher than other neighboring countries. The basic income pilot was looked at as a potentially beneficial change to Finland’s social benefits system.

But the decision to scrap the plan is about, naturally, bottom lines. People in favor of paying freeloaders said the program wasn’t comprehensive enough to gauge its merits. Naysayers say it would have required a 30% tax increase on an already over-taxed population to be viable.

The Finnish government plans to release data from the basic income program in late 2019, BBC reports. It is also reportedly considering other welfare programs.