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Korea puts policy priority on tackling low birthrate

The South Korean government will make concerted efforts to tackle the deepening low birthrate trend in a bid to boost the growth potential of Asia's fourth-largest economy, the finance minister said Monday.

"The low birthrate is a pressing task that all government organizations need to join forces on," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said during a visit to a local daycare center in southwestern Seoul. "In order to resolve the matter, the government should put all-out efforts including using fiscal means to reduce working hours and help people seek work-life balance."

Kim went to the facility along with other ministers including Labor Minister Kim Young-joo and Gender Equality Minister Chung Hyun-back to check the government's policy implementation and get feedback from teachers and parents.

The minister said he will put the issue high on the government agenda to stir up the country's growth potential.

The low birthrate has been one of the most urgent issues for decades in South Korea, coupled with an increased aging population.

Many are worried that low births will drag down the workforce in Asia's fourth-largest economy and drive up welfare costs, undermining the growth potential of the economy as a whole.

The South Korean government has announced a series of plans including child subsidies and expanded maternity leave to encourage people to have more babies, but most of them seem to have fallen short of expectations.

Last year, an all-time low of 406,300 babies were delivered, with the fertility rate reaching a seven-year low of 1.17. (Yonhap)