Do the ministers earn "a little more than 700 bolivars", as Francisco Torrealba said?

Do the ministers earn “a little more than 700 bolivars”, as Francisco Torrealba said?

It is not possible to know what the salary of a minister is in Venezuela, when opacity has become a way of governing for Nicolás Maduro. There is no public record or official statement with this data, therefore, that a minister receives a salary “of 700 or so digital bolivars”, as Francisco Torrealba, head of the Labor portfolio, said, is a mystery.

Text: Ligia Perdomo

«Our salary should be in the order of… Right now I don’t know how much a minister earns, I don’t know how much my salary is because I don’t charge per minister, I charge per worker of the Caracas Metro. The ministers should be earning in the order of 700 or so digital bolivars. I don’t know if there are different salaries for ministers,” Francisco Torrealba, Minister of Labor, responded to the question asked on the Primera Página program, by Globovisión, about how much his salary was. This information is a mystery.

In the Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro, in which opacity has become a way of governing, knowing the salary of any public official is a difficult task to do, if not impossible.

This data, like many others – most of them indicators that reveal the situation in the country – has been kept hidden as a State policy. But for a minister, in his intention not to reveal how much he receives for the services he provides in front of a portfolio, to say that he does not know how much he earns because he receives his salary from the Caracas Metro, where he is employed, is not credible.

The Primera Página journalist asked Torrealba if the 700 bolivars were enough for the ministers to live, to which he indicated: “The ministers also have some level of consideration, for example, they have an assigned vehicle, they have covered the expenses of their food, etc.”

The data on the salaries received by the ministers of the Executive Branch –and that of the President of the Republic– is not public. There is no official record of it. None of those mentioned – who lead a sumptuous lifestyle – gives an account of this information.

On December 6, the date of Torrealba’s declaration, the exchange rate of the Central Bank of Venezuela was Bs 11.54, with which the 700, to round off the imprecise amount of the minister, represented 60.65 dollars, a hardly credible figure for a high government position. Only in the private industrial sector (grouped in Conindustria), the average salary level among its workers was 171 dollars in the third quarter of 2022.

*Read also: Minister Torrealba says that the increase in the minimum wage is linked to relief from sanctions

The minimum wage decreed by the Maduro government and in force since March is 130 bolivars. At that time it was equivalent to 30.3 dollars and by December 6 it already represents 11.26 dollars.

Public administration workers are the ones who mainly receive the minimum wage, since in the private sector there are very few who maintain the salaries of their employees at that amount.

The lack of transparency in Venezuela of data that in other countries is in the public domain, is the rule of Maduro’s administration, which uses the concealment of information as a mechanism to govern without accountability, despite the fact that the Constitution so dictates.

A recent example of this, verified by, was whether the deputies of the National Assembly (official) would receive a $10,000 bonus, which could not be demonstrated due to the opacity with which the Maduro regime moves. However, according to unofficial information obtained by the Bloomberg agency in October, a parliamentarian earned a diet of $65 and another $700 that was paid through the Patria System.

Taking into account what was published by Bloomberg, it is likely that the ministers receive allowances other than salaries that compensate for the high cost of living which, according to the Venezuelan Finance Observatory, has increased 195.7% between January and November 2022.

But there is no official information that supports the possibility of additional income to the salary, for which what Torrealba said remains a mystery.

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