Venezuela hikes minimum wage by 50 percent as inflation soars

August 12, 2016 8:47 PM EDT

A vendor weights vegetables for a customer (not pictured) at a street market in Caracas, Venezuel,a October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Marco Bello


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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday announced a 50 percent minimum wage hike that takes effect on Sept. 1, amid triple-digit inflation that has severely weakened spending power in the crisis-stricken OPEC nation.

Monthly minimum wage will rise to 22,577 bolivars, around $35 at the weaker of two official exchange rates but about $23 at the black market rate. Including meal tickets, it will rise to 65,056 bolivars.

"This is the third (minimum wage) hike this year," Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

Critics say repeated salary increases are woefully insufficient to offset inflation, which reached 181 percent in 2015 according to official figures. The central bank has not published more up-to-date inflation figures, which opposition leaders say is meant to hide embarrassing economic data.

Venezuela's state-led economic system has been steadily collapsing since the fall of oil prices in 2014.

Opposition leaders say the situation will not improve without a change of government.

Maduro insists he is the victim of an "economic war" led by his political adversaries.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sandra Maler)



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