Spain is to roll out a universal basic income (UBI) “as soon as possible” to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
Minister for economic affairs Nadia Calvino told Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday night that the move was intended to help families during the pandemic.
But Ms Calvino, who is also deputy prime minister, said the government’s ambition was that UBI could become something that “stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument”.
If the payments are successfully implemented, Spain would become the first country in Europe to introduce them nationwide on a long-term basis.
The country’s economy has nearly ground to a halt during a strict lockdown imposed on 14 March, with schools, shops and restaurants shuttered. People are only allowed out of their homes to get essential supplies, or to go to work if they cannot work from home.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez said over the weekend the restrictions would remain in place until 26 April at the earliest.
UBI is an unconditional, regular payment made to every citizen. The amount of money paid to each person may differ based on demographic factors, such as age.
With the exception of Iran, which introduced a UBI programme in 2011 in the form of monthly cash transfers into individual family accounts, most other countries have only trialled the payments for relatively small groups of people or for short amounts of time.