Venezuela's Maduro to raise minimum wage

Nov 05, 2014, 2:44 AM EST
A woman pays at a supermarket displaying a list of products that have weekly restrictions per person published after a presidential decree to fight chronic shortages of basic goods, in Caracas, on October 29, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will increase the minimum wage by 15% starting in December. The BBC reports:

The raise, the third this year, comes amid an annual inflation rate of 63.4%. Mr Maduro said the measure and other benefits meant workers would be better off despite the inflation, which he blamed on an "economic war" the opposition were waging against him.

The new wage will be 4,889 bolivars per month ($776; £485 at official exchange rates, $49 in the black market). 

Under Venezuela's strict currency controls, people and businesses can receive US dollars at the official rate only by applying to a government currency agency, and then only for specific purposes such as importing goods or paying for foreign travel.

The amount of dollars available at the official rate is restricted, but the demand remains high. This has caused the black market to flourish.

To applause from party members and workers gathered at an official event, President Maduro said he had "decided to accept the proposal from the workers to decree a 15% rise in the minimum salary from 1 December".

Last week, the president announced that he would raise the salaries of the members of the Venezuelan armed forces by 45%, a move which was heavily criticised by the opposition.