The new minimum wage is officially 22,576 VEB. At the SICADI exchange of today we see that the VEB is at 645 to the USD. In short the minimum wage is officially 35 USD PER MONTH.
There goes the glorious bolivarian revolution in the name of workers.
And do not complain, I could have used the black market rate of 1,007 instead of 645 because that is the only one I can use to buy dollars with my 22,576 VEB. It would be, well, 22 USD. How people can live off such a paltry amount is a mystery beyond belief, less than 1 dollar a day.
Ah! but the well informed reader will tell me that I forgot about the food bonus!!!! That is right. And I will explain that next.
For reasons too long to explain Venezuela has a complicated system of severance payments. That is, when you fire someone, or they simply resign, you have to pay them X amount of money based on all the income that person has gotten while working for you. The trick here is how do you define income. One way the Venezuelan government, before Chavez already, found to go around ballooning severance sums was to give its employees bonuses not counted as regular income. The most creative way was to establish a food bonus for lower scale wages. First it was limited to large business. Then it spread to small business, then everyone got it, not only lower scale workers. Now, I have been informed that even as an associate in my business I could get fined if I did not receive that food bonus, something that I have refused to receive until now.
Chavismo in recent years has steadily been increasing the food bonus as a way of slowing down the amount of severance pay that the state today cannot meet anymore, by the way. The pay increase I refer above raised stupendously the food bonus to 42,480. Yes, that is right, the food bonus is now almost twice the basic monthly wage.
So why should I complain? Very simple: that food bonus comes through tickets or a bank card AND can only be used in food stores. Guess what? the worker may want to use part of that 42K to buy such things as public transportation to go to work or medicine for her children. And one of the few ways to make good on that 42K for cash is to go to certain grocery stores that will give you cash in exchange (illegal, of course) but at a 20% discount.
So there you go, no matter how positively you try to look at that minimum wage hike it is a fraud to the worker, its severance pay will be negatively affected and s/he can only buy food (which incidentally cannot be purchased through that food bonus from black market).
But it gets worse. Today I got from a relative in France a a tweet and a picture. The tweet is from Miro Popic, food editor at Tal Cual.
Bs.3.995 el 1/2 kg. de lentejas. Nuevo salario mínimo dará para 2.82 kg. al mes. pic.twitter.com/rut7ewJwTg— Miro Popic Editor (@miropopiceditor) 16 de agosto de 2016
|Cheaper and yummier|
Now you be kind and explain to me at which level this could possibly make sense. There is certainly a speculative factor from the merchant in Venezuela, no doubt. But it is not enough.
At any rate, with the new minimum wage 65,056 VEB, food bonus included, you can buy 8 kilos of lentils. That's all you will be eating that month, lentils, 86 grams per meal (and let's forget about cooking gas, water, etc... to prepare them).
I am sorry, but unfortunately such things cannot be made up........