National
Ministry, firms to address birthrate
Published : May 3, 2011 - 19:21
Updated : May 3, 2011 - 19:21
Korea’s low birthrate is not just a problem for policymakers worried about declining tax revenue but for businesses looking to secure a stable supply of manpower and a large market.

Twenty-three companies, including household names, pledged Tuesday to promote procreation at an event hosted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to induce their cooperation in tackling the issue.

Officials from POSCO, LG Electronics and 21 other companies met with Health and Welfare Minister Chin Soo-hee in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, and signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to boost the falling birthrate.

The companies agreed to establish in-house committees to encourage their employees to live a balanced life between office and family.

Other pledges include refraining from holding work dinners without prior notice as employees have complained that dining events after work prevent people from having quality time with their families.

The companies and the ministry agreed to designate “Family Days” when the workers are urged to leave the office on time, return home, spend time with their spouses and hopefully have more children.

The pact involving the welfare ministry, local administrations and local businessmen is the seventh of its kind. Chin has encouraged more companies to join the ministry-led drive to solve one of the most urgent tasks the country is facing.

“The good news is that birth rate recently showed a trend to bounce. It marked 1.15 per couple in 2009 but has risen to 1.22 in 2010,” Chin said.

“It is more encouraging that the business sector better understands that low birthrate is not just a family affair,” she added.

The minister plans to visit five more local administrations and businesses around the region this month in a bid to tackle the birthrate problem.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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