Venezuela announces minimum wage increase

As part of Venezuela’s economic recovery plan, President Nicolas Maduro on Friday announced economic measures that include increasing the national minimum wage.

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Maduro said the minimum wage will be set at 1,800 sovereign bolivars, a new currency that will begin circulating Aug. 20.

The sovereign bolivar will be based on the country’s Petro cryptocurrency, valued at about $60 or 3,600 sovereign bolivars.

Maduro said the measure will “stabilize and change the monetary and financial life of the country in a radical manner.”

Ahead of the new currency’s debut, currency was devalued by 95 percent, a strategy to loosen the grip of the country’s high inflation rate.

Maduro said the government would help small- and medium-sized industries with costs of the wage differential for 90 days.

The historic devaluation comes as Venezuela sinks into an economic and social crisis. A report by the International Monetary Fund said the economic crisis in Venezuela, one of the founding members of OPEC, is “profound” as a substantial drop in oil production takes its toll.

A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that Venezuela’s oil industry has been mismanaged for decades. More recently, some of the workers at state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, have been jailed on corruption charges.

 By Susan McFarland