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Bolivia's president-elect cuts own pay by half

Bolivia's President-elect Evo Morales and his entire cabinet will take a 50-percent pay cut so more staff can be hired for the education and health sectors, Morales announced late Tuesday, according to news reaching here.

Morales, who won a Dec. 18 presidential election and will be inaugurated on Jan. 22, said his future salary of some 3,600 U.S. dollars per month would be slashed to 1,800 dollars.

"This is a democratic revolution and we will answer the Bolivian people's call," the 46-year-old former coca grower and Aymara Indian said.

"It's a question of sharing the country's situation among us all," said Morales, who has vowed to make multinationals pay more into the national economy and to raise Bolivia from its status as one of Latin America's poorest nations.

Cabinet ministers and all the 157 members of Morales' Movement to Socialism party elected to the congress will also take a 50-percent pay cut, Morales said, adding that the salaries of 157 substitute congressmen -- who take over the duties of lawmakers when they are absent -- will be reduced to zero.

Bolivia's economy is healthy by local standards, with a gross domestic product growth of 3.9 percent in 2005 and similar performance expected in 2006. GDP expanded by 3.6 percent in 2004.

Inflation is forecast to end this year at 4.2 percent, down from 4.6 percent last year, in a country that has suffered periods of hyperinflation.

Bolivia also reduced its fiscal deficit to an estimated 1.5 percent of GDP in 2005, down from 5.5 percent in 2004.

Source: Xinhua

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