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MACAU: Government Distributes Temporary Basic Income

Macau, the former Portuguese possession, now a semi-autonomous region of China, is in the process of distributing a temporary Basic Income of more than $1000 to all residents. According to a government press release dated 1 July, 2014, “In order to share the fruits of economic development with the general public, the Macao SAR government had announced the Wealth Partaking Scheme 2014’, under which, local permanent residents would receive 9,000 patacas [US $1,127.46], whereas non-permanent residents 5,400 patacas [US $676.48].” At $1,127, this year’s effective Basic Income in Macau larger than last year’s Alaska Dividend ($900).

Macau has distributed temporary Basic Income’s each year since for the last four years. In 2011, permanent residents received 4,000 patacas [US $501—at August 2014 exchange rates] at the beginning of the year, and a further supplement of 3,000 patacas [US $376] in August. In 2012, permanent residents received $7,000 patacas [US $877] all at once. In 2013, permanent residents received 8,000 patacas [US $1,002]. Non-permanent residents received proportionately smaller figures this year. Thus, permanent residents of Macau for the last four years have received a total of $3883 since 2011. This amount is clearly not enough to live on in an expensive place such as Macao (it cannot be a full basic income, only partial), but it is a significant figure for Macao residents at the low end of the income distribution.

This scheme is a Basic Income in the sense that it distributes an income unconditionally, on an individual basis to all citizens (at least all resident citizens), but it is not a Basic Income in the sense that it is not distributed on a regular basis. The government has now set the president that the Wealth Partaking Scheme will be in effect every year, but each year it has been created with one-time legislation without a promise of renewal. The amount, timing, and existence of the redistribution have to be renegotiated each year. People cannot count on it. Yet, it is something that is already close to a Basic Income and that could develop into a Basic Income in the future.

For more information about the Wealth partaking scheme, see the government websites from the last four years:

2014: http://www.planocp.gov.mo/2014/default_e.html
2013: http://www.planocp.gov.mo/2013/default_e.html
2012: http://www.planocp.gov.mo/2012/default_e.html
2011, supplement: http://www.ap.gov.mo/2011/default_e.html
2011: http://www.planocp.gov.mo/2011/index_e.html

See also the following articles and commentaries form Macao newspapers:

Macau Daily Times, Cash handout starts in July.” Macau Daily Times, 01/07/2014

Business Daily Editorial Board, “Smoke and mirrors.” Business Daily [Macao], 2014

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 949 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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