Taiwan Makes History with Universal Cash Payment Plan

Taiwan Makes History with Universal Cash Payment Plan

Taiwan is making history by sending out a one-time universal cash payment of $6,000 New Taiwan dollars (NTD) to every citizen “young and old.” This is the first time the country has implemented such a policy, and it comes as a result of excess tax revenue of $450 billion NTD, much of which is coming from corporate taxes that have seen record-high profits. $140 billion NTD will be dedicated to the cash payments, with the remainder going towards improving labor and health insurance systems and providing funding for local governments.

UBI Taiwan hailed the move as a victory for Taiwanese citizens, as the payment is unconditional and universal, meaning that everyone in the country will receive it, regardless of income or other circumstances. They said it reflects the growing demand that a greater proportion of Taiwan’s growth is shared with average families.

“This is a huge victory for the basic income movement,” UBI Taiwan founder Tyler Prochazka said. 

UBI Taiwan promotes unconditional basic income (UBI) in Taiwan. UBI is a policy that periodically sends out unconditional cash payments to every citizen in a country regardless of an individual’s income or job status. 

The organization has noted the problem of stagnant wages for the last two decades in the country and the rising cost of housing. Through basic income payments, they argue that many Taiwanese could pursue better opportunities and improve their education.

“Unconditional cash transfers are an efficient way to provide an ‘economic vaccination’ to make sure that everyone can face the future in a healthy and happy manner,” said Jiakuan Su, the new chairman of UBI Taiwan.

Over the last few years, Taiwan’s economy has experienced record-breaking 6.45% GDP growth in 2021 and over 8.73% growth in exports in 2022. However, most people have not enjoyed the fruits of this economic growth, as a 104 Job Bank survey found that real wage growth was nearly zero in 2022 due to inflation. The universal cash payment is a way for everyone to have a small share in Taiwan’s economic success. 

“With the rise of the pandemic over the last few years, Taiwan has experienced rapid changes in its economy and society,” Su said. “We have experienced directly why Taiwan needs a resilient social welfare system to protect each person’s economic security.”

Since the payment is equal to all taxpayers, it will have a progressive effect with a greater proportion of the refund going to low-income earners. There is some expectation that the cash payment could help stimulate the economy because low-income households are more likely to use the money to satisfy their essentials, such as food and housing, freeing up some additional discretionary money for recreational uses as well. A greater willingness to spend by average families could help smaller businesses that may have struggled since the pandemic.

Both political parties have agreed on the general outline of the proposal and the cash could be sent out as soon as February. A surprise has been that the plan appears to be a universal rebate of the revenue instead of a targeted one, which will make it easier for everyone to apply and reduce administrative costs and time. One area still under consideration is whether foreign taxpayers will receive any of the money.

Previous cash assistance schemes during the pandemic were targeted and a stimulus voucher was sent universally. The pandemic vouchers were limited in how they could be spent and had an expiration date, similar to the vouchers under former President Ma Ying-Jeou.

Members of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) argued during the pandemic that cash should have been sent out instead of vouchers. At the time, the TPP held a news conference with UBI Taiwan to discuss the benefits of cash over vouchers. Many also complained that the targeted cash programs were difficult to receive because of the strict conditions. 

Research by the World Bank later demonstrated that the simplicity of universal and unconditional cash payments during the pandemic increased access to the assistance and likely provided economic stimulus. Previous research showed a multiplier effect up to $2.6 for every dollar sent. Fears of saving the cash were largely overblown. For example, in over a dozen economies primarily in East Asia, 40 percent of the universal cash transfers during the pandemic were directly used for consumption. 

Besides improved standard of living, research on basic income consistently shows improved mental health and trust in society. A meta-analysis of basic income policies looked at eight governmental reports as well as seven peer reviewed studies. They found there was justification that the alleviation of stress from financial instability could be a reason for improved mental health from basic income.

There have been criticisms of the current cash payment plan, including concerns about inflation. However, it is important to remember that this is surplus tax revenue that has already been collected and is not new money created by the central bank. An effect on inflation is just as likely if the government directly spends the money or if it is sent back to taxpayers. 

Additionally, while it is true that Taiwan’s insurance systems require further reforms for sustainability, the vast majority of the surplus revenue is being used to shore up these systems and provide an emergency fund. A one time injection of funds is helpful but will not save these systems in the long run. 

Previously, basic income advocates from UBI Taiwan have suggested that Taiwan could establish a sovereign wealth fund (SWF). Such a fund would act as a guarantee that Taiwanese could enjoy more equity in the growth of Taiwan’s economy even if wages remain stagnant. Excess revenue could be placed in the SWF and invested in the economy, with dividends from the SWF distributed back to the people each year, similar to the system in the US state of Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund sends out a yearly payment from the oil revenue generated in the state. In 2022, the universal payout reached a record high of $3,284 USD. 

“I applaud the government’s decision to send the universal cash transfer and hope this establishes the precedent for Taiwan to consider making this a permanent policy,” Su said.

Prochazka furthered that by making this payment equal to all citizens, the government is taking the “first small step” towards ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are shared by all. 



經過一年多的時間,台灣避免重大的本土 COVID 疫情的爆發,不過台灣在 5 月經歷了恐慌,出現了數百個病例。由於一夜之間數以百萬計的工作崗位不穩定,這將普發現金的措施帶到了台灣政治辯論的前沿。

在此背景下,UBI Taiwan 於 8 月 15 日舉辦了首次線上基本收入高峰會,邀請來自世界各地的學者、運動人士以及政治人物來討論疫情期間的基本收入狀況。



作為城南市前市長,李實行了一項青年基本收入計畫,該計畫讓該市所有 24 歲的青年每季度獲得地方貨幣。該計畫說明地方貨幣可以改善該地區的小型企業活動。後來當他成為知事時,他將該計畫擴展到了全省。

Kim Kyeong Soo 是京畿道政府願景規劃師的管理人。他也是青年基本收入計畫的規劃者。

「我們所做的是實現年輕人的基本社會權利而保障年輕人的權利」Kim 說。

青年基本收入是 COVID 危機期間的一個有用模型,因為省政府能夠在經濟衰退期間迅速擴大該計畫以包括該省的所有居民。

Kim 還討論了他們如何在疫情期間增加不同的社會福利項目,以及在全國範圍內推動基本收入的計畫。

「我們將地方貨幣的設計成只能在年銷售額在 12 億韓元以下的商店中可以用,這樣才能真正振興真正的胡同經濟的小企業主」Kim 說。

韓國基本收入網的成員 Mok Hwakyun 和 Kim Jae-seop 出席了高峰會的問答環節。他們提到基本收入已經成為韓國的主流話題。

「最大的變化是現在每個人都知道基本收入。我希望韓國能夠成為第一個實施 UBI 的國家」Mok 說。

著名的美國活動家 Scott Santens 在會議的採訪,他討論了美國大規模的 COVID 救濟計畫的成功和失敗。在美國已經出現的最大變化之一是兒童稅收抵免,Santens 表示,他相信這將使更多人會支持全民基本收入。

「我充滿希望,尤其是每月的兒童稅收抵免將真正改變這裡的情況,並有助於為美國建立真正的 UBI」Santens 說。


UBI Taiwan 理事長羅泰(Tyler Prochazka )評估了台灣的 COVID 救濟響應,並指出了台灣救濟的不足和複雜性。

今年 5 月,當地爆發導致台灣在疫情期間首次進入三級。台灣正在經歷一個奇怪的矛盾,儘管其他行業被封鎖,但其強勁的出口產業推動了台灣創紀錄的經濟增長。與此同時,封鎖令台灣員工經歷了數十年來最糟糕的經濟狀況,尤其是服務業。

由於封鎖,一半台灣人的工資減少了 10% 至 50%,且 74% 的人表示工資有所減少。與此同時,41% 的台灣人表示他們認為政府的 COVID 救濟計畫沒有提供任何幫助。救濟計畫的一些問題是,它依賴大量文件來證明個人的情況。比如說,如果家人的銀行裡有太多錢,也可能排除申請人。

例如,台灣在封鎖期間失業人數達到 57 萬人,低於正常工作時間的人數達到近 100 萬人。然而,6 月份的失業救濟人數僅增加了 2 萬人,不到同期真正失業人數增加的四分之一。

台灣的二級封鎖已延長至 9 月 6 日,這對企業的運營方式施加了不同程度的限制,並完全關閉了某些企業,例如某些娛樂場所。即使大部分地區恢復正常,但在可預見的未來,許多企業的運營可能會繼續受到限制,需求也會減少。

儘管台灣是幾十年來最糟糕的就業形勢之一,但今年政府僅將其年度 GDP 的 6% 用於 COVID 救濟計畫。與日本和美國將其國內生產總值的 16% 至 30% 用於 COVID 救濟相比,台灣作為發達經濟體對其公民的幫助要少得多。

台灣執政黨民進黨正準備推出另一輪價值 5,000 新台幣(180 美元)的振興券。由於與 COVID 救濟計畫相關的嚴格條件,對於許多台灣家庭來說,通用振興券是政府 COVID 響應中最容易獲得的幫助。台灣在野黨現在大力推動為大多數台灣人發放現金而不是券,並利用行政儲蓄為貧困家庭提供額外的現金補助。


Original English Article here.

Translation: Tyler Prochazka & Pandora Lai


Taiwan holds first online basic income summit

After over a year of avoiding significant local COVID outbreaks, Taiwan experienced a scare in May with hundreds of cases emerging. This brought the idea of universal cash payments to the forefront of Taiwan’s political debate as millions of jobs were destabilized overnight.

With this backdrop, UBI Taiwan held its first-ever online basic income summit on August 15, inviting professors, activists, and politicians from around the world to discuss the state of basic income during the COVID pandemic.

Korea’s Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung opened the summit by noting the importance of the basic income movement in Korea and Taiwan. Lee is currently a frontrunner in the early stages of Korea’s presidential race. He has been called the “Bernie Sanders of Korea” because of his economic proposals.

“When the world is implementing expansive fiscal policy, basic income is gaining attention as the most rational and remarkable way to prepare for the era of the fourth industrial revolution,” Lee said in his address to the conference.

As the former mayor of Seongnam, Lee started a youth basic income program for all 24-year-old youth in the city to receive local currency every quarter. The scheme was shown to improve small business activity in the region. He later expanded the program to the province when he became governor.

Kim Kyeong Soo is part of the Gyeonggi provincial government vision planner. He is the planner of the provincial youth basic income program.

“What we are doing at our expense is to realize the basic social rights of young people,” Kim said in an interview for the conference.

This was a useful model during the COVID crisis because the provincial government was able to quickly expand the program to include all residents of the province during the economic downturn.

Kim also discussed how they increased a myriad of programs during the COVID pandemic and the plans to push for basic income on a nationwide scale.

“We designed it so that it could only be used in stores with annual sales of 1.2 billion won or less, so that the money could be actually revitalized for the small business owners of the real alley economy,” Kim said.

Members of the Basic Income Korea Network Mok Hwakyun and Kim Jae-seop attended the summit for the question-and-answer session. They noted how basic income has become a mainstream topic in Korea.

“The biggest change is that everyone knows about basic income now,” Mok said. “I hope Korea will be the first country” to implement UBI.

Prominent US activist Scott Santens gave a pre-recorded interview for the conference where he discussed the success and failures of America’s massive COVID relief program. One of the biggest changes that has emerged is the Child Tax Credit, which Santens said he believes will get more people on board with a wider basic income safety net.  

“I feel hopeful that especially the monthly CTC is going to really change things here and help build momentum for a full UBI here in the US,” Santens said.

Taiwan’s Yangming University Professor Song-Lih Huang discussed the debate between Universal Basic Services compared to basic income. He concluded that UBS does not provide the same level of individual freedom as UBI.

UBI Taiwan Chairman Tyler Prochazka evaluated Taiwan’s COVID relief response and noted the inadequacy and complexity of receiving relief.

The situation became more severe this past May when a local outbreak caused Taiwan to go into level 3 lockdown for the first time during the pandemic. Taiwan is experiencing a bizarre contradiction, where record economic growth is fueled by its strong export sector despite the lockdown for other industries. At the same time, the lockdown has caused Taiwan’s employees to experience their worst economic situation in decades, particularly for the service industry.

As a result of the lockdown, half of Taiwanese experienced wage reductions of 10 to 50 percent, and 74 percent reported some reduction in wages. At the same time, 41 percent said they believed the government’s COVID relief program provided no help. One issue with the relief program is it relies on extensive documentation to prove an individual’s circumstance and can also reject an applicant if a household member has too much money in the bank.

For example, Taiwan’s unemployment had reached 570,000 people and the number experiencing lower than normal working hours had reached nearly one million during the lockdown. However, only 20,000 people were added to unemployment benefits during June which is less than one-fourth of the increased unemployment for that period.  

Level two lockdown has been extended until September 6 in Taiwan, which places varying levels of restrictions on how businesses operate and closes some businesses entirely, such as certain entertainment venues. Even as much of the country returns to normal, many businesses will likely experience continued restrictions on their operations as well as reduced demand for the foreseeable future.

Despite one of the worst employment situations in decades for Taiwan, the government has only allocated around 6 percent of its annual GDP on COVID relief this year. Compared to Japan and the United States, which spent between 16 to 30 percent of their GDPs on COVID relief, Taiwan has given significantly less to its citizens as a developed economy.

Taiwan’s ruling party Democratic Progressive Party is moving toward another round of stimulus coupons worth 5,000 NT ($180 USD). Due to the stringent conditions associated with COVID relief programs, the universal coupons are the most accessible program from the government’s COVID response for many families. There has been a strong push by opposition parties in Taiwan to provide cash relief now for most Taiwanese instead of coupons and use the administrative savings to give an additional cash boost to poor households.

“Taiwan’s ruling party said they want to ‘share economic growth’ with all Taiwanese,” Prochazka said. “The real way to share economic growth is with Universal Basic Income.”


羅泰     | 2020年9月15日 | 观点

当前动荡的时代背景下,关于城市应该如何适应快速变化的经济和技术發展     这一问题出现了激烈的争论。智慧城市之教育專題系列活動(Smart City Education Inside)     邀请了两位专家讨论现金转移政策     的前景,以加强城市的永續性     ,并为学生提供公平的教育机会。

智慧城市在线之教育專題系列活動     是資策會數位教育研究所     (Digital Education Institute, III)和人才流通联盟(Talent Circulation Alliance)的联合專案项目。在台湾經濟部工業局     的協助     下,该專案     为那些对教育科技、     永續学习和     永續社会发展感兴趣的人举办了一系列的专题讨论和主题演讲活动。

周二(8月11日),曾任职两届     芝加哥市議員     ,     第一位当选伊利诺伊州重要职位的亚裔和印第安裔美国人阿梅亚·帕瓦尔先生     的演讲“尊严、体面和机构:以全民基本收入為     例”。收入不平等、财富不平等,以及几十年来偏向     企业財團和     银行而非工薪阶层的政策,都成为使其     轉向全民基本收入(UBI)概念     的原因。

帕瓦尔认为,美國社会在     各个方面都遭受     对贫困的忽视而導致的衝擊     ,     無論是国家和地方两个维度都有必要將心力投資在弭平貧富差距上     。

帕瓦尔问道:“是什么导致我们相信,如果我們給人們生活一點幫助,人们会做错事或坏事或做更少的事     ,          ?”     他说:     “为了实现永續     发展,人们需要先有内建     的适应力     。”    

对于现金资助可能会让人们     不愿意工作的观点,帕瓦尔说,研究表明事实并非如此。“给人们钱并不能改变人们想要希望自己有生產力,有貢獻     ;     在這之上,它给了人们對生活更多的选择和     喘息空间。”

在周四(8月13日),我们邀请到RSA未来工作中心的     營運規劃駐點創業家希尔·克莱恩先生分享他的演讲“数位     时代的儿童中心導向发展”。

克莱恩认为,随着服务和     科技成为经济的主要驱动力,一     部分人口被落下了。这就是为什么我們需要一个更现代化和更健全的社会保障网络来帮助人们适应这种快速的技术变革。當     政府对低收入家庭如何使用公共福利     有著諸多限制的同時,     卻以大幅度     税收减免的形式给其他人们提供资金。这些不平等的條件     表明了对一些人的信任和对另一些人的不信任。事实上,          在無條件的情況下,特別是全民     的,現金轉移政策     更容易管理      

由于儿童是克莱恩研究的一个重要焦点,他认为对儿童缺乏投资不仅会影響     他们的人生展望     ,     更會影響整个社会潜在的未來经济增长     。他分享     普遍儿童储蓄账户、婴儿债券和基本收入的例子,     展現了它们將如何使儿童受益,他认为这些才是在数位     时代     投資所有儿童的未來的主要方法。

Translation into Chinese by Qihao Liang.

The original article in English can be found here.

Cost of Living: An interview with basic income documentarians

Cost of Living: An interview with basic income documentarians

A new film is hoping to answer the question of whether life itself should be subsidized. Directors Sean Blacknell and Wayne Walsh have produced a new documentary “The Cost of Living” which discusses the mental and physical burden placed on those with unstable incomes and whether basic income is the right remedy.

The film interviews many prominent basic income scholars, such as Guy Standing and Barb Jacobson. It is focused on the issues specifically facing the United Kingdom, where there are “3.5 million people in ‘in-work poverty.’” With the arrival of COVID-19, the film-makers argue the discussion about basic income is even more pertinent than ever. 

The filmmakers expressed that many of the current programs in the UK are failing to rise to the moment with extreme distress around the country, such as the universal credit which they called “dehumanizing.” 

“You have to prove you are deserving,” Blacknell said. 

Steve Botrill, the deputy chief executive of Urban Outreach Bolton, is interviewed in the documentary. He said that much of the current stress on the poor in the UK is due to reductions in benefits and more stringent conditions placed on social services.

As a result, Botrill said that this is a cause for the “astronomical” growth of food banks in the UK in recent years.

In the documentary, it is argued that much of a person’s wealth is dependent on luck, such as where a person is born. 

Initially, the film was going to take a broad look at social programs, but narrowed to basic income as they moved forward. In the long-run, the filmmakers noted that this discussion around basic income will continue to be important because of the changing economic and technology trends around the world. 

However, the filmmakers emphasized that after interviewing many scholars they do not believe basic income is a “panacea” on its own. By interviewing a wide range of viewpoints, they hoped to create a “more nuanced take” on basic income.

With new spikes of COVID-19 around the world, Wayne and Blacknell hope the film can reach a wider audience to facilitate this debate. It is now available on Amazon Prime for streaming.