THE HOUSE leadership has been asked to enact a universal basic income to serve as a safety net for workers suffering from the pandemic as well as those on the verge of being displaced by the digital transition, according to a senior legislator.

Albay Representative Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, co-chairman of the House economic stimulus and recovery cluster, said Tuesday that households need to reap the benefits of any economic rebound.

The economy contracted 11.5% in the third quarter, accompanied by extensive lay-offs.

Mr. Salceda, in an aide memoire to Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco and Majority Floor Leader Martin R. Romualdez, said: “We should protect household income, because households drive demand, and demand drives business. That means better tax policies that fund better social services and public goods such as infrastructure.”

“The theory behind universal basic income is that as the distribution of labor income and capital income changes in the economy and capital begins to displace more labor, the benefits of capital should accrue to households through taxation and then universal cash transfer,” he said, noting the risk to low-skilled jobs posed by automation.

Mr. Salceda also backed increased spending on stimulus packages, noting that economies with much larger packages have managed to keep inflation within the 0-3% range.

He called on policy makers to “outgrow” attitudes towards spending based on an austerity mindset, and “be more open to transfers of income to households, from the fruits of fairly taxed capital and digital economy income.”

Two proposals for a third round of stimulus have been filed in the House. Mr. Salceda’s House Bill (HB) No. 8059, or the proposed Bayanihan to Rebuild As One Act (Bayanihan III), is seeking to provide P247 billion to fund emergency response and economic recovery programs.

HB No. 8031 or the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, filed by Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo, provides for a P400-billion stimulus package to aid victims of the pandemic and the series of typhoons that hit the country late in the year. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza