Taiwan ministry turns matchmaker to boost birth-rate

File image of a mother and son at a Taipei temple on 17 February 2010 Taiwan is actively trying to boost the island's falling birth rate

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The interior ministry in Taiwan is to organise matchmaking activities for its unmarried staff to improve the birth rate, one of the lowest in the world.

The ministry, in charge of Taiwan's population policy, says events should take place at least once a year in every agency under its control.

Officials suggested departments that have single women team up with the police, who have many unattached men.

In 2009, Taiwan's birth rate stood at 1.0 births per woman.

This is well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

"As the agency in charge of the country's population policy, the interior ministry should serve as an example in boosting the birth rate," Interior Minister Jiang Yi-huah said.

At a recent meeting of senior ministry officials where the proposal was discussed, some people expressed concern that high-profile matchmaking activities could impose undue pressure on unmarried workers, Taiwan media reported.

One senior official, who at the meeting offered one of his staff time off to take part in the matchmaking activities, said to the employee, who often works overtime: "You are my responsibility now", according to reports.

In March, the Taiwanese authorities announced they were seeking a new slogan to boost the island's falling birth-rate and offered a cash prize for the best submission.

And in February, the authorities announced plans to help finance fertility treatment for young couples struggling to get pregnant, in another effort to arrest the decline in births.

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