Venezuela leader hikes minimum wage 30 pct amid raging inflation

CARACAS - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday night increased the country's minimum wage 30 percent, amid rampant inflation that has destroyed purchasing power in the crisis-hit country.

As of May 1, the minimum wage will jump to 15,051 bolivars per month - $1,505 at the strongest official exchange rate but just $13.50 at the black market rate.

Maduro also increased a monthly food ticket to 18,585 bolivars - around $17 at the black market rate.

The president celebrated that the rise would be the twelfth since he was elected president in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chavez.

"Only a president like Nicolas Maduro, son of Hugo Chavez (could achieve this)," said the president in an hours-long address on state television.

Critics counter that the repeated wage hikes reveal the government's utter failure to stem inflation and a deep recession.