HANOI – COMMUNIST Vietnam, alarmed by its fast population growth of recent years, is planning to tighten up enforcement of its two-child policy, family planning officials said on Thursday.
The government worries that rising numbers are putting strain on education, health and other public services in the country of 86 million, about two thirds of whom are under 35, thanks to a post-war baby boom.
The one-party government first launched a two-child policy in the early 1960s, but this was relaxed in a 2003 ordinance that encouraged small families without making it illegal for families to have a third child.
That decree was ‘so general that people haven’t understood it and have sometimes taken advantage of it’, said Mr Duong Quoc Trong, deputy head of the government’s General Office for Population and Family Planning.
‘The demographic boom is damaging the country’s sustainable development.’
Many Vietnamese couples now have a third child – especially in families with two daughters, because of a long-standing belief that sons must care for their parents in old age and carry on the family name.
In the first nine months of this year, about 93,000 third-child births were registered in Vietnam – 10 per cent more than in the same period last year – according to official statistics.
This week the cabinet agreed on a draft amendment that would turn the two-child rule into law once it is passed by the National Assembly.
In the past Communist Party members have faced warnings, reprimands or expulsion for breaching the two-child rule, and citizens have been punished with pay cuts and other disciplinary measures at work.
Officials did not say what penalties may apply in future under the new law.
Some groups will be exempt, including members of ethnic minority groups with less than 10,000 people, said the state-run Vietnam News Agency.
Couples will also be allowed to ask for permission to have a third baby if one of their children is disfigured because of an accident or fatal disease. — AFP