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Technology comes to policymakers' help

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Economists and national budget makers have a new situation to reckon with - burgeoning welfare budgets. Over the past decade, many countries have had to step up steeply the allocation for support to the underclass. This has taken the form of cash benefits, healthcare subsidies, rebates on monthly expenses or subsidised supply of monthly needs, special support for education, tax reliefs, mass housing, etc. The number of heads has also multiplied, as country finance ministers cope with slow or no growth in income of the bottom percentiles of the population. That the issue has raised its head even in the face of benign inflationary conditions is part of the conundrum.

ECONOMISTS and national budget makers have a new situation to reckon with - burgeoning welfare budgets. Over the past decade, many countries have had to step up steeply the allocation for support to the underclass. This has taken the form of cash benefits, healthcare subsidies, rebates on

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