Go to contents

Increase Birth Rates With Provision of Childbirth Benefits

Increase Birth Rates With Provision of Childbirth Benefits

Posted April. 04, 2003 22:23,   


The government is planning to actively encourage Korean households to have more children by providing childbirth benefits and tax break. The government’ move means a policy shift in almost 40 years to a ‘policy to raise birth rates’ from a ‘policy to reduce child birth rates’ in the 1960s.

In addition, the government is now considering giving the Korea Food and Drug Administration the authority to collect and examine foods, including livestock and marine products and alcoholic liquors which aren’t currently subject to the KFDA`s examination.

Health and Welfare Minister Kim Hwa-jung reported such a plan to President Roh Moo-hyun in a ministry operation briefing on April 4.

The Health and Welfare minister reported that it is planning to come up with appropriate measures to address problems stemming from low childbirth rates and by installing a ‘committee for new population policy’ and a ‘countermeasure committee for aging society’. However, President Roh directed the minister to come up with and implement active measures to boost birth rates by installing a single committee for new population policy and aging society under the direct leadership of the President.

The Health and Welfare ministry said that it has decided to push for a population policy designed to increase childbirth rates.

Minister Kim also said that to maintain food safety, it is planning to propose the government enacts a food safety law authorizing the ministry to search, collect, and examine suspected foods.

The minister explained, “Now the Agriculture Ministry is responsible for livestock products, the Maritime Ministry for marine products and the Finance and Economy Ministry for alcoholic liquors, if we notice the existence of problems related to foods, we can`t address a food crisis in a swift manner. Therefore, the purpose of a new law is to supplement the current system.”

Minister Kim also said that the ministry is planning to increase government financial assistance for the severely disabled (first and second grade) to 160,000 won per month in the next 5 years and expand the benefit coverage for more disabled people. And the ministry is expected to seek ways to procure more products made by the disabled.

The Ministry is also expected to raise health insurance fees for higher income families and ask the government to give the national health insurance corporation the authority to ask the National Tax Service to launch tax probes on higher income earners to realize the fairness of taxation. In response, the president said that if the tax service had agreed on the idea, the health ministry should implement the plan.

With respect to the issue shifting the responsibility of child care policies from the Health and Welfare Ministry to the Gender Equality Ministry, the president said, “At this stage, it is premature to shift the responsibility, given many people in the Assembly, the academic circle and ordinary citizens do not seem to support the idea. I think the issue requires gathering more opinions and then carrying out the responsibility shift by fully reflecting public opinions to the plan.”

Jin Lee leej@donga.com