Maduro pledges 45 pct wage increase if elected Venezuela's president

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Venezuela's acting President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday pledged a 45-percent rise in minimum wage if he wins the upcoming April 14 presidential vote.

The candidate of the ruling socialist party made the pledge at a campaign rally in Caracas attended by thousands of government workers.

The wage-increase plan is to be fulfilled in three stages after being officially decreed on May 1.

Maduro said that the monthly minimum wage of 2,047 bolivar (325 U.S. dollars) would be raised by 20 percent, followed by a further 10 percent increase in September and a final 5 percent to 10 percent rise in November.

"The accumulated increase will be between 38-45 percent on average," he said.

In April 2012, then President Hugo Chavez announced a rise of 32.25 percent, or 476 dollars, in the monthly minimum wage, but a drastic devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar offset the increment, bringing wages back down to 325 dollars.

On April 14, some 18 million Venezuelans will vote to choose between Chavez's revolutionary path and the opposition's liberal road led by Henrique Capriles.

Most of the polls showed that Maduro leads with a margin of 20 percentage points in the race against Capriles. Endi

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