10/07/2020, 15.05
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Singapore offers baby bonuses to encourage births and fight the Pandemic

The authorities fear that the economic effects of the coronavirus are driving couples not to have children. With 1.14 births per woman, the city-state has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The opposite is the case in the Philippines and Indonesia. The baby bonus is part of an economic recovery plan.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – Singapore is offering a one-off payment to encourage couples to have babies to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat made the announcement last Monday.

Singapore authorities fear that many couples, hard-pressed financially as a result of the pandemic, are postponing their parenthood plans.

Mr Heng said more details about amounts and how they will be paid would be announced at a later date.

Singapore's current baby bonus system provides eligible parents up to S,000 (,330) in benefits.

The city-state has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, a negative trend that it has tried to reverse for years. Its fertility rate touched an eight-year low in 2018, at 1.14 births per woman.

Many Asian countries face a similar issue of falling fertility rates, which could worsen during the pandemic downturn.

The Philippines and Indonesia are an exception, this according to the United Nations Population Fund. Due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic, the UN agency expects an increase in unintended pregnancies in both countries (2.6 million in the Philippines alone).

At present, the epidemic appears to be under control in Singapore. So far, some 58,000 cases have been reported with 27 deaths.

Despite this, there is still concern over full reopening the economy. The new baby bonuses are part of a revival plan that the government will finalise in the coming weeks.

As a first move, the five-person limit for gatherings and overseas travel restrictions are among the measures that could soon be loosened.

To jumpstart the economy, the government has allocated S$ 100 billion (US$ 73 billion).

In the second quarter of the year, Singapore’s GDP fell by 13.2 per cent, the worst drop in its history.

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