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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Venezuela's president raises minimum wage by 30 per cent in face of galloping inflation

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Nicolas Maduro is boosting Venezuela's minimum wage to defend workers' salaries against inflation running at nearly 60 per cent.

Maduro said Tuesday that the 30 per cent increase for wages and pension payments will take effect Thursday, in honour of the May 1 international workers day. It follows a 10 per cent boost in January.

The socialist president blames the problem on his opponents, accusing them of waging "economic war" on his year-old administration by raising prices and hoarding goods while staging protests demanding he resign.

Economists say raising wages feeds an inflationary spiral and adds to the government deficit.

The increase takes Venezuela's minimum wage to 4,252 bolivars a month. That's $675 at the official exchange rate but less than a tenth that amount at the widely used black market rate.

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