Poland's parliament pass new law offering payments to families who have children

Poland's parliament passed a new law Thursday that foresees a one-time payment to women for each child they have, fulfilling the new conservative government's promises to do more to help families. Lawmakers voted in favor of the so-called "becikowe", or "swaddling clothes", law under which the government is to pay 1,000 zlotys (Ђ260; US$310) to women for each birth, the PAP news agency and TVN24 news channel reported. The exact tally of votes was not immediately available.

Supporters of the law hope that, by encouraging more births, they can help stave off a population decline in Poland, a country of 38 million with one of Europe's lowest birth rates.

But the vote was only a partial victory for the government of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, which had previously backed a version of the law that would offer payments only to poor women. Marcinkiewicz, who leads a minority government that depends on parliamentary support from the nationalist League of Polish Families and the populist Self-Defense party, was forced to broaden the law to apply to all women to get it through. The two parties, who hold a combined 88 votes in the 460-seat parliament, have criticized the government's economic and other policies in the past month. I.L.

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