Singapore is set to offer couples a one-time payment to encourage them to have babies during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The ‘baby bonus’ is meant to support aspiring parents who have had to delay starting a family due to increased financial burden and job layoffs in the COVID-ravaged economy.
“We have received feedback that Covid-19 has caused some aspiring parents to postpone their parenthood plans,” Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in parliament on Monday, according to a BBC report. “To help with expenses during this period, we will introduce one-off additional support for newborns.”
The country’s Deputy Prime Minister said that details about the exact amount and how it is to be paid will be announced on a later date, BBC reported. The new ‘baby bonus’ is one amongst many other pre-existing benefits offered by the Singapore government to help boost the island nation’s low birth rate.
Currently, eligible couples in Singapore receive benefits of up to $7,330 (Over Rs 5 lakh) to expand their families. Through these measures, the government hopes to avert a demographic crisis bolstered by the crippling economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2018, Singapore’s fertility rate touched an eight-year low of 1.14 births per woman and remained unchanged last year, according to a Bloomberg report. Several Asian countries have faced a similar trend of falling fertility rates over the years, which could further worsen during the pandemic.
Earlier this year, China recorded its lowest birth rate since the formation of the People’s Republic of China seven decades ago, BBC reported. However, some of Singapore’s neighbouring countries, such as the Philippines, are facing the opposite problem.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, accidental pregnancies in the Philippines are expected to rise by more than half to 2.6 million if Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions on movement remain until the end of the year.
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