Castro doubles Cuba’s minimum wage

Cuba’s president Fidel Castro has announced plans to more than double the country’s current minimum wage.

Labourers earning about 100 Cuban pesos (£2.13) a month will see their wages rise to 225 pesos (£4.79) this month. The move will benefit 1.6 million workers, including farmhands, plumbers and undertakers, who survive on the lowest wages.

Castro’s confidence in the economy has been buoyed by closer trade relations with Venezuela and China. Oil deposits have also recently been discovered off Cuba’s coast.

Cuba’s economy has been struggling since the collapse of its former backer, the Soviet Union, in 1991. However, the government recently introduced a number of measures in an attempt to improve the livelihood of its citizens.

At the end of March, the 78-year-old president announced a rise in payments for Cubans claiming welfare, including single mothers, widows and disabled people. The increase will benefit 1.5 million Cubans. He said the minimum wage increases would cost the Cuban government about 1.1bn pesos.

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