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Venezuela's Maduro hikes salaries by 30%

Protest-hit Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday raised minimum wage by 30 per cent, after a 10 per cent hike in January, chasing the country's 59.3 per cent inflation rate -- Latin America's highest.

CARACAS: Protest-hit Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday raised minimum wage by 30 per cent, after a 10 per cent hike in January, chasing the country's 59.3 per cent inflation rate -- Latin America's highest.

"I have decided on an increase in the national minimum wage and pensions of 30 per cent to get them where they need to be for life in our country," the president said, in an address to workers at the presidential palace.

Maduro promised another increase for later this year.

"I hope that by year's end, we will be choking off and overcoming ... inflation," he stressed.

At the government-set exchange rate, the new minimum monthly salary would be the equivalent of $657 a month; but the black market rate for the greenback would give workers closer to $67 a month.

Forty-one people have been killed and more than 700 injured in over two months of anti-government unrest as angry students and others denounce rampant crime, inflation, widespread shortages of basic goods and other economic woes.

Maduro was narrowly elected to succeed longtime leader Hugo Chavez last year after the elected socialist and populist firebrand died of cancer.

Most economic analysts blame the country's problems on a decade of rigid currency and price controls, as well rising dependence on imports and debt costs -- a lacklustre record for a country that controls the world's largest proven oil reserves.

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