Wed, Jun 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Government considering incentives to raise births

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The government may begin offering child-raising subsidies as part of efforts to stave off a looming low birth rate crisis, officials said yesterday.

The officials said the Ministry of the Interior is scheduled to release a white paper on population policy late this month, in which a child-raising subsidy is proposed as a measure to encourage married couples to have more children.

The white paper proposes a progressive child-rearing subsidy system, under which families with children aged six and under would be entitled to a monthly allowance, the officials said.

Families with a child aged under six would be offered a monthly subsidy of NT$2,000, while those with two young children would be given a monthly allowance of NT$3,000, the officials said.

Those with three or more young children would receive a monthly subsidy of NT$5,000.

Ministry officials said the subsidy proposal is based on the findings of a series of public opinion polls that show more than 50 percent of the respondents consistently advocated the financial support measure as an effective step to encourage childbirth.

The white paper sets a goal of boosting the fertility rate from the present 1.2 children born to each woman over the course of her life to 1.6 children born to each woman over a period of 10 years, the officials said.

When the goal is achieved, the number of newborns will reach an estimated 300,000 a year, they said.

As the ministry has received letters from many concerned citizens asking for early disclosure of the contents of the white paper, the officials said, public hearings would be held around the country.

The ministry will refer to all the expert views and public opinions presented at the hearings when putting the final touches on the white paper, which it has spent NT$8 million (US$242,000) preparing, the officials said.

Under the white paper proposals, families with three or more young children will be given a special identification card for their cars so that they can enjoy deductions or exemptions for roadside parking and freeway tolls.

Families with several children would also be offered preferential rates in using public educational, recreational and entertainment facilities, the officials said.

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