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People line up as they wait to receive a ration of donated food in Barcelona People line up as they wait to receive a ration of donated food, in Barcelona, Spain, May 14, 2020 (AP photo by Emilio Morenatti).

Its Economy Battered by COVID-19, Spain Tries a Guaranteed Minimum Income

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

MADRID—Tens of thousands of households in Spain began receiving checks last Friday under a new guaranteed minimum income program that was passed by parliament in early June. Plans to provide a guaranteed income had been part of the coalition agreement reached in January between the ruling Socialists and their junior coalition partner, the far-left Podemos party, but they were fast-tracked due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain is one of the hardest-hit countries from COVID-19, with nearly 300,000 confirmed infections and more than 28,000 deaths. Its GDP is expected to contract by more than 9 percent this year, with unemployment slated to rise from 14.4 percent to 19 percent. Long lines are forming at food banks across the country, as charities struggle to meet the spike in demand for their services. All of this has raised the stakes for Spain’s new policy, which, if implemented effectively, could provide a necessary layer of protection for the most disadvantaged Spaniards. ...

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