Maduro decrees minimum wage raise amid economic crisis

Venezuelan President Maduro raises minimum wage by 30 percent on eve of International Workers' Day, as the country struggles with its triple-digit inflation.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) points as he speaks during an inspection to a installation of the state oil company PDVSA, in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela on April 28, 2016.

President Nicolas Maduro, speaking in a national broadcast on the eve of International Workers' Day, decreed a 30 percent increase in the minimum wage for Venezuelan workers.

In his late Saturday presentation Maduro also called on his followers to join May Day rallies in Caracas.

While the minimum wage increase may seem substantial, given Venezuela's triple-digit inflation rate that brings the amount to the equivalent of $40 a month at the official exchange rate, or just $14 a month at the black market rate.

The decree, which come into effect on Sunday, includes pay raises for public workers, pensioners and members of the military.

Once-booming Venezuela, which has the world's largest proven oil reserves, has plunged into economic chaos as global crude prices have collapsed. Its economy has been in recession since 2013.

The leftist Maduro government blames the situation on an "economic war" waged against the country by capitalists, and has vowed to press on with the socialist "revolution" launched by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez in 1999.

Maduro's emboldened political opposition however has been pushing to drive him from office since it took control of the legislature in January.

Venezuela's opposition started collecting signatures on Wednesday to initiate a referendum to remove Maduro, as the country's economic crisis angers many against the government.