YEREVAN — Citing the need to reverse Armenia’s falling birthrate, the government approved on Thursday sharp increases in child benefits which will come into force in July.

In particular, parents will receive a one-off payment of 300,000 drams ($625) in cash for having their first or second child. They are currently paid only 50,000 drams for the first child and 150,000 drams for the second.

The government also raised from 18,000 drams to 26,500 monthly benefits allocated to the mothers of children under the age of 2. They will also be paid to officially unemployed women in rural areas, who have not been eligible for any maternity leave compensation until now. Working mothers living there will get 52,000 drams.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian singled out this fact. “I want to stress that this is yet another manifestation of our strategy of increasing women’s involvement in social and economic life,” he said at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

Both Pashinian and Labor and Social Security Minister Zaruhi Batoyan said the rises in child benefits are designed to increase the country’s birthrate which has fallen considerably since the early 1990s.

In Batoyan’s words, the measure proposed by her ministry will cost the government almost 4.7 billion drams in additional social spending.

The government already decided last month to raise pensions by 10 percent. Earlier in 2019, it approved a 23 percent rise in the national minimum wage, also effective from January 1.

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