Venezuelan public employees to receive $130 per month in bonuses

By Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS (Reuters) -Public employees in Venezuela will receive $130 per month in bonuses, President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday, amid demands by workers for salary increases and months ahead of presidential elections in which Maduro is seeking a third term.

Maduro gave scant details in his announcement, but ruling party lawmaker Francisco Torrealba later said on social media that bonuses will be paid out in local bolivars equivalent to set amounts in U.S. dollars.

Workers will receive a $90 "Bonus Against Economic War" and a $40 food bonus, Torrealba said on X.

Wage increases have failed to keep pace with double- and triple-digit annual inflation recorded over the past year. Consumer prices increased 67.75% year-on-year through March.

The monthly minimum wage of 130 bolivars, equivalent to $3.5 at the official rate, has not been adjusted since March 2022, but the government has paid out bonuses to public sector employees and retirees. Bonsues were last raised to $100 in February.

"Today I decide to raise the comprehensive minimum income of workers to $130 at least," Maduro said at an event marking International Workers' Day. "We are going to recover the income of workers, the income of the country, step by step."

Maduro's government this year has intensified efforts to bring inflation down to two digits, as it looks to slightly increase social spending ahead of the vote.

Unions of teachers, university professors, healthcare workers and others have demanded salary adjustments to compensate for losses to inflation over the last few years.

The cost of basic food for a family is more than $500 per month, according to the teachers' union.

(Reporting by Deisy BuitragoWriting by Julia Symmes CobbEditing by Leslie Adler)