Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a 40 percent increase to the minimum wage as of January, a move that will foment what many economists already consider hyperinflation in the oil-rich but crisis-stricken nation.
In his televised year-end address, leftist Maduro said the new wage level would protect workers against what he calls Washington`s "economic war" to sabotage socialism.
"Good news!" said the former bus driver and union leader, speaking next to a Venezuelan flag in a midday address.
Most economists say the government is in fact fomenting a vicious cycle in a country already wrestling with the world`s fastest inflation.
To counter those price increases, Maduro has been raising the minimum wage, but quickening inflation coupled with a depreciating bolivar currency has plunged millions into poverty.
Venezuelans will now earn some 797,510 bolivars a month, factoring in food tickets, or just over $7 on the widely used black market index. Millions will still be unable to afford three meals a day, while the increase is likely to stoke inflation further.
Prices went up 1,369 percent between January and November, according to figures released earlier this month by the opposition-led Congress, which estimated the 2017 rate would top 2,000 percent. The Venezuelan government no longer publishes inflation data on a regular basis.
Opposition politicians say Maduro`s refusal to overhaul Venezuela`s state-led economic model and stop excessive money printing will only create more misery in 2018.
Maduro, however, spent much of his half-hour address blaming others for the country`s woes. He said foreign and local media were spreading "negative propaganda,” while Venezuela was facing "attacks" on its currency and attempts to "sabotage" its oil industry.