LA PAZ, Bolivia – President Evo Morales decreed Wednesday that an extra month’s wages should be paid as a special Christmas bonus to all salaried workers in Bolivia, at state agencies, in the military and police, and in the private sector.
Bolivian law already requires that salaried workers get a month’s pay as a December bonus, so they will now get triple their pay for that month.
The leftist president said he made the surprise announcement because his government’s goal is to reduce poverty and more equally distribute the wealth in one of South America’s poorest nations.
“The economy is good and the country’s growth should return to the workers with a double Christmas bonus,” Morales said during a meeting with union leaders.
Bolivia’s Federation of Private Companies vehemently objected, calling the decree “politicking” that “bodes terrible for future investment.”
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president and a coca growers’ union leader, first won office in December 2005 and is expected to seek re-election next year.
He has nationalized public services, including telecommunications and the electrical grid, and renegotiated natural resource extraction deals, but he has largely left the private sector intact.
Morales has, however, mandated annual wage increases to keep pace with inflation, which is now at 6.4 percent annually.