Maduro Hikes Venezuela’s Minimum Wage By 50 Percent Amid Growing Crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela, Wednesday January 11, 2017 – President Nicolas Maduro says he has decided to increase the minimum monthly wage from 27,092 bolivars to 40,638 bolivars, the latter amount equivalent to about US$60 at the official exchange rate of 678 bolivars per US dollar.

Maduro made the announcement during his weekly television programme and said that while this 50 percent raise is the first for 2017, it is the fifth that he has ordered over the past 12 months, making a total annualized increase of 536 percent.

During that period the socialist country’s economic crisis has worsened and inflation, which stood at about 181 percent at the close of 2015, soared last year and is now believed to be the highest in the world.

In the televised announcement, Maduro said that the new minimum wage will also be received by all retirees in Venezuela, a total of more than three million people, according to government figures. The 50 percent hike will also be applied to the entire salary of public employees, the president said.

He also said that he will raise the value of the monthly food allowance, which currently stands at 63,720 bolivars, “in the coming days.”

From this month, when the pay hike is scheduled to take effect, millions of public and private sector workers will have the right to a total income of 104,358 bolivars per month, equivalent to US$154.

The Venezuelan government will also work to bring the unemployment rate down to 4.5 percent and raise the formal employment index from 62 percent to 70 percent, the president said.

Although the opposition maintains that mismanagement and corruption are responsible for the economic crisis that is crippling the country, Maduro insists that the real culprits are right-wing businessmen and foreign interests trying to bring down his administration.

“While there is an economic war going on, we will continue (to help) the Venezuelan family defend itself, while we’re stabilizing the country economically,” he said.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s biggest employer, Fedecamaras, said that the new pay increase was announced “without consultation” by the government and could reduce employment and result in the closure of companies that cannot deal with the hike.

  Click here to receive news via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)