Venezuela's president hikes minimum wage by 15 per cent in face of inflation

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Nicolas Maduro is boosting Venezuela’s minimum wage to protect workers’ salaries from inflation running at nearly 60 per cent a year.

Maduro said Monday that the 15 per cent increase will take effect in December. It follows a 30 per cent boost in April and a 10 per cent hike in January.

The socialist president said the raise was necessary to defend workers’ earnings from inflation that he blames on an economic war his enemies are waging on the country.

Critics say the government is essentially printing too much money. Venezuela has the highest inflation in the world, by some estimates

The move comes a week after Maduro boosted military salaries by 45 per cent, drawing criticism from the opposition, and some grumbling from workers who hadn’t gotten a raise. The military has seen a wage increase of about 500 per cent since the start of Venezuela’s socialist revolution in 1999.

The increase takes Venezuela’s minimum wage to 4,889 bolivars a month. That’s $776 at the official exchange rate but less than $50 at the black market rate widely used to set many prices.

Economists say raising wages can feed an inflationary spiral.