The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has announced a minimum wage increase of 50% to protect all workers and pensioners from the current inflation bite the oil-rich country is facing, the BBC reports.
A 50% increase in minimum wage for workers, members of the armed forces and pensioners means earners will now receive a minimum of 40 bolivars – about $60 or £49.
This is the fifth time the Venezuelan government would increase minimum wage within one year. President Maduro justifies this wage increase by stating that his government would do everything within its power to protect employment and workers’ income in periods of “economic war and mafia attacks.”
But members of the opposition do not agree with the president, saying he has acted unilaterally and that any wage increase would aggravate the situation of the economy in the face of biting inflation. Critics say the president is misappropriating revenues from oil which is the main natural resource the country exports and relies on to fuel the economy.
Venezuela has the highest rate of inflation in the world and this has largely depreciated the value of the currency bolivar. This has resulted in high prices of goods and medical drugs, with foods getting short to meet the daily needs of the people.
President Maduro rose to power in 2013 after the death of former president Hugo Chavez. Maduro will be serving a six-year-term as an elected president. Critics believe he has been incompetent and clamor for his impeachment, other political analysts think the president should have done away with the unhelpful socialist policies the country has been operating for the past 17 years.
But while critics say the wage increase would stifle small businesses and cause others to sack workers on a significant scale, Maduro lamented that hostile political foes and elite businessmen are frustrating the economy and making life difficult for all.