President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has agreed to a 33 percent rise in Algeria's minimum wage and a 15 percent increase in civil service salaries from January 1, officials said Sunday. The increases however fell short of levels agreed in talks among the government, trade unions and employers last week — a 66 percent hike in the minimum wage, known as the SNMG, and a 25 percent increase for civil service employees.
Friday, head of the General Union for Algerian Workers (UGTA), Abdelmadjid Sidi Said, said that the Algerian government has agreed to raise the national minimum wage by 66 percent, in a bid to calm growing unease over economic reform. The government, trade unions and employers, have been holding talks since Thursday. The agreement awaited cabinet ratification.
Trade Minister Mourad Medelci said the SNMG would be increased in 2001 from a monthly 6,000 to 8,000 dinars (90 to 120 euros) at a cost to the state budget of 100 billion dinars (1.5 billion euros).
The income-boosting measures were sought to help redress a dramatic drop in purchasing power in Algeria over the last six years amid an economic crisis linked to a liberalization program to dismantle the country's heavily centralized economy.
The reforms, at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, have seen about 1,000 state-run businesses shut down with the loss of nearly 400,000 jobs, pushing unemployment to around 30 percent.
The current minimum wage is insufficient to buy a daily loaf of bread and bottle of milk for each member of a seven-person family. Half of Algeria's 30 million people are living below the poverty line, according to official estimates. — (AFP, Algiers)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )