For today’s global economies to truly flourish, it is essential to go beyond basic wealth creation for citizens and residents. For every economy’s evaluation, we today have a myriad set of indices, against which it is to be measured – and social welfare is one such metric. Social welfare refers to keeping the best interests of a society at heart to improve quality of life. This metric is so significant for greater economic activity that not just governments, but private businesses too focus on creating value for societies – commonly known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
In keeping with the necessity of better social welfare for greater life satisfaction, the Australian government (along with the Australian Royal Mint – the chief physical money minting body of Australia), has come up with special donation dollars for every citizen of the economy. Aptly launched on International Charity Day (5th September), the move aims to make access to crowdfunds easier in light of the decreased amount of donations during the pandemic.
Update on the Australian Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on the consistently growing trend of Australia’s economy up till 2020, especially due to the rigid pro-vaccination and pro-lockdown stance adopted by the government. Civil and commercial lockdowns in Australia were amongst the most unyielding, with Melbourne seeing one of the longest continuous lockdowns in the world of over 250 days.
This reduced economic activity significantly, and the Australian government’s full focus was redirected towards vaccinating as many citizens as possible – and fast. This was their sureshot route to opening the economy nationally and globally, and ushering halted business activity. With about 90% of all citizens vaccinated with at least one shot of a WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine, Australia’s GDP grew at 3.8% in 2021 and is showing strong signs of recovery. The government’s approach has shifted from a lockdown strategy to a containment strategy, and stage-wise reopening of movement is being encouraged. In light of this, GDP growth in 2022 is speculated to be 4.1% and 3.0% in 2023.
An economic survey of Australia conducted by OECD mentions that the government should focus on public welfare and ensuring that households have sufficient wealth to spend for a robust economic recovery. Financial resilience for households and business is encouraged, and a strategy for well-distributed growth in living standards are essential for bounceback.
What are Australian Donation dollars?
In light of charting a firm path to economic recovery, the Australian government launched special “Donation dollars” valued at 1 Australian Dollar (AUD) each. This dollar is a real, physical dollar, with 1 dollar being minted for every individual who can legally spend it in Australia. This means that the Australian Royal Mint will create and pump 25 million dollars into the Australian economy, which equals 25 million dollars.
The Community Council of Australia – a federation of over 500,000 charity groups – has endorsed the initiative in order to improve access to crowdsourced funding for people and households in need. It is speculated that if each Australian donates 1 Donation dollar every month, over the next 10 years, over 3 billion AUD can be generated for charity since this model is self-regulating and free-flowing. The idea is to encourage small donations within the economy in order to redistribute wealth – in line with the policy recommendations of OECD.
Who is the Donation Dollar for?
The dollars are legal tender, and every legal tax-paying resident and/or citizen of Australia can use it for giving purposes. The dollar can be given to a registered charity/fundraising association, or directly to a person in need. It cannot, however, be used for collection purposes. Unless otherwise stated that the donation dollars have been collected from different people as financial assistance, you may not accept donation dollars from anyone.
Can this model work in India?
Implementing this model in India is a far stretch, even though the nation is trying to emphasize better living standards and greater financial freedom for its households. Boasting a population of 138 crore, implementing anything is a Herculean task in India. If a similar model as Australia’s is implemented, 138 crore donation dollars will have to be minted and distributed. Although banks can be charged with the responsibility of giving out 1 donation dollar to each unique client, a huge chunk of the population (especially people from disadvantaged sections of society) still do not have bank accounts.
In addition to this, collecting donation dollars for a charity based in Delhi from all over the country would need significant infrastructure. For this, the dollar needs to be in electronic form, and exchanged online. Although internet and technology adoption in India is increasing at an astounding rate in both urban and rural areas, many do not have access to technology, internet, and basic technical literacy.
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