Puebla, Mexico, November 3, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Wednesday a 30 percent increase in the minimum wage, while also unveiling plans for a new, higher denomination bill.
The wage increase came into force on Wednesday, and saw the minimum income of the country’s lowest paid workers rise from BsF136,544 to BsF177,507. The new wage is worth around US$16 at the official DICOM exchange rate, or US$4.3 on the black market. That excludes minimum food tickets, which also saw a rise from BsF189,000 to BsF279,000. This brought the total minimum income of Venezuelan workers to BsF456,507 per month, or US$40 at the DICOM rate (US$10 on the black market).
Maduro described the wage increases as part of an “arduous battle” against an “economic war” he says is being waged against his country.
“We must continue advancing the protection of our people … and build … the new economy with … the Venezuelan people, the Venezuelan working class, the new Venezuelan business community,” he said.
During the same announcement, Maduro also said his government will provide BsF500,000 in Christmas bonuses to 4 million households, and is set to distribute 16 million toys in its annual Christmas children’s program. Maduro’s planning tsar Ricardo Menendez said the increases in wages and other benefits will aid just under 10 million Venezuelans. He argued the increases are a sign the government is prioritising workers' welfare amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
"Here in the middle of an economic situation we are expanding from the point of view of social protection," he said.
The opposition has dismissed the wage increases as insufficient in the face of rising inflation.
"With inflation the highest on the planet, the official salary announcement is a mockery of the Venezuelan workers,” prominent opposition figure Henrique Capriles tweeted.
Venezuela’s economy has been battered by 536 percent inflation since the start of the year, according to a report issued by the opposition-controlled National Assembly in September.
Maduro has blamed the soaring inflation on speculators and intentional economic sabotage by his political rivals.
Amid the rising inflation, Maduro also said Wednesday his government was planning on releasing a BsF100,000 bill into circulation. The bill will be the highest denomination note released in modern Venezuelan history. The move comes less than a year after Maduro’s government sought to relieve pressure on consumers by releasing BsF500, 1000, 2000, 10,000, and 20,000 notes.