Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

New office aims to boost birth rate and family aid

SHORT AND LONG TERM:The new office aims to raise the birth rate to 1.6 percent by encouraging having kids and providing assistance to families in the short term

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Health and Welfare plans to establish an office tasked with planning mid to long-term policies to slow the effects of the nation’s declining birth rate while focusing on providing ample subsidies in the short term to allow those who want to start a family to be able to raise their children, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

The nation’s birth rate was only 1.1 percent last year, and the office will aim to raise it to 1.6 percent, the ministry said on Wednesday when it announced the establishment of the agency.

The office is to be headed by former minister of health and welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) and is to seek to integrate available resources to address the various needs of the project throughout its implementation, ministry Secretary-General Wang Tsung-hsi (王宗曦) said.

Chen yesterday said that Lin was asked to lead the organization due to his proposal that the government pay for the upbringing of children younger than six.

The office would strive to formulate mid to long-term goals while keeping in mind the Executive Yuan’s overall plan, Chen said, adding that its plans must use extant funding, or develop new sources of funding.

He said the office would have two main short-term goals: encouraging people to have children and facilitating the upbringing of children for those who want to have them.

Birth subsidies and childcare facilities should be addressed in the near term, Chen said, adding that the ministry was mulling an increase to birth subsidies.

Asked by reporters whether the ministry was “positive” that it would increase birth subsidies, Chen declined to comment, instead saying that the ministry established the office to thoroughly plan out the issue.

Considering individual segments of the larger issue is not what the ministry wants to do now, he added.

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