Third-child birth incentive pledge stirs mixed reactions

It is learned that the government is doing the ground works, such as collecting datas and statistics from the national referral hospital

The government’s pledge to provide a cash incentive of Nu 10,000 per month for every child born after the second child until the child reaches the age of 3 years has sparked mixed reactions among the general public. While some individuals are eagerly waiting for the implementation of this new policy, others casted doubts about its effectiveness and said that this pledge looks either like a distant dream, a complete dream in entirety or a stray political pledge.

A private employee and a father of two sons, Tenzin Norbu said that if the policy of third-child incentives is implemented, he is ready to plan for a third child.

Similarly, Kinley Zam, a farmer from Genekha in Thimphu, who is also excited about the prospect of benefiting from the incentives, shared that she has been considering expanding her family, and the government’s announcement has come as a welcome surprise.

“The government’s decision to provide incentives for families with a third child is great news for us, especially an economically disadvantaged parent,” she said, adding that it can at least provide other benefits for the children in the future.

Fathering two children, Kinley Tshering from Paro said, “It will definitely help alleviate some of the financial burden that comes with raising a larger family.” Kinley said that as a father of two children, his wife and he has been considering expanding their family, and the announcement of these incentives has made them all the more inclined to take that step.

“I have seen firsthand the challenges faced by families in raising multiple children, especially in terms of financial constraints. The government’s decision to provide incentives for families with a third child is a commendable move that will not only promote population growth but also support families in their parenting journey,” Namgay Wangmo from Jomotsangkha reiterated.

“I believe this policy will have a positive impact on our community and encourage more couples to consider having a larger family,” Namgay added.

Speaking along the same lines, Pema Tshering from Punakha said that if the government’s decision to offer incentive for families with a third child is really implemented, then it is a game-changer for him. “It gives us the reassurance and support we need to start planning for a third child. I am grateful for this initiative and believe it will have a positive impact on many families in Bhutan.”

For someone who has witnessed all the changes in the demography of the country, 70 year-old Khawjay said, “I think the government’s initiative to encourage having larger families is vital for the future of our country. With an aging population and declining birth rate, it is important to take steps to ensure a sustainable future.”

One of the couples shared that due to the stress of raising more children and additional expenses, the couple has been using preventive measures to avoid another pregnancy. However, they said that if the government confirms the incentives, they are prepared to plan for a third child.

However, there are also people who dislodge themselves from the third child incentive policy, exclaiming that it is too good to be true and will never see the light of the day.

Expressing skepticism about the effectiveness of the policy, Yangchen from Thimphu shared that providing incentives for only three years does not make sense as financial support becomes necessary when the children attends school or colleges. She suggested that the policy would serve purpose if the government could provide incentives until the age of 18 years.

A former Member of Parliament (MP) raises concerns about the feasibility of implementing the third-child incentives given the current economic situation of the country. Questioning the relevancy of the policy, the former MP said that a similar idea had been attempted to implement during their government’s tenure but did not work. Despite this, the former MP acknowledges the potential benefits for women if the policy were to be successfully implemented.

Deki Zangmo from Tsirang exclaimed that even if the government implements the policy, she is not ready to plan for a third child. She said that although the government encourages having more children, families have to divide their properties accordingly. “I don’t have any property for my children and this policy seems un-realistic for families like us,” she added.

Concerned about the sustainability, uncertainty and the continuity of the policy under future governments, Sonam Choki from Nganglam seeks clarifications whether it is the best approach to encourage families to have a third child.

Meanwhile, the statistics on the families with three children had been worked out by the reproductive health program at the National Referral Hospital upon instructions from the government. However, the Prime Minister’s office refused to share the data despite repeated attempts by this paper.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu