Maduro boosts Venezuela's minimum wage for 3rd time this year

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday announced a 50 percent increase in the monthly minimum wage to 97 bolivars, or about 37 dollars at the official exchange rate.

The increase is the third this year, following minimum wage pay raises of 50 percent in January and 60 percent in April.

Even with those hefty pay raises, Venezuelans struggle to keep up with inflation, which the IMF says is expected this year to reach 720 percent.

Venezuela has the world's biggest oil reserves, but a collapse in energy prices has drained its revenues, prompting shortages of food, medicine and basic goods along with soaring violent crime and a stratospherically high inflation rate.

The economic crisis has been a major factor in three months of protests in which 89 people have died.