In his latest effort to cope with a spiraling inflation crisis, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday the country’s minimum wage and pensions would rise 50 percent. It will be the fifth minimum wage rise in the past year, adding up to a cumulative 322 percent.

The minimum monthly salary, which will go into effect Jan. 15, will now be 40,683 bolivars, about $60 at the official exchange rate under the state’s strict currency controls, or $12 on the black market.

"To start the year, I have decided to raise salaries and pensions," Maduro said on his weekly TV and radio program. "In times of economic war and mafia attacks ... we must protect employment and workers' income."

Along with the rapid decline in global oil prices in 2014, Maduro has repeatedly blamed malicious forces, including political enemies, other members of the country’s elite and even the United States for the country’s economic crisis. While no official data was released for 2016, the International Monetary Fund predicts that inflation in the country will reach 1,600 percent this year.

The economic crisis and the highest inflation rate in the world have left shortages of food and medicine and people requiring backpacks full of cash simply to pay for basic goods.

In an attempt to tackle the rising inflation, the Central Bank last month began printing larger banknotes, increasing the highest note from 100 bolivars to 20,000 bolivars. However, the move led to widespread chaos and protests when Venezuelans were given just days to exchange 100 bolivar notes before they were taken out of circulation.

Maduro has faced mounting criticism in Venezuela, including a drive by the opposition to hold a recall referendum on the socialist president. That bid was halted by the country’s Supreme Court in October.

Nicolas Maduro
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) shakes hands with Venezuela's new Vice-President Tarek El Aissami (R) during a meeting with ministers at 4F military fort in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan, 4, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters

Maduro, who announced former interior minister Gov. Tareck El Aissami of Aragua state as his new vice president last week, has also been rebuked over his hiking of the minimum wage and pensions. The country’s main business association stated that the decision was made without consultation and that it could result in layoffs and the closure of small businesses.

The move was also slammed by opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Venezuela’s Miranda state.

“Wage adjustment announced by Maduro is like everything else he does, a scam!" he said in a statement Monday. "Without attention to inflation, income will not improve."