Bolivian president-elect takes pay cut

Bolivia's socialist president-elect has announced that he and his cabinet will take a 50% pay cut so more staff can be hired for the education and health sectors.

    Evo Morales (C): Question of sharing the country's situation

    Evo

    Morales, who won the recent presidential election, said

    late on Tuesday:

    "This is a democratic revolution and we will answer the Bolivian

    people's call.

    "It's a question of sharing the country's situation among us

    all."

    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, won an 18

    December election and will be inaugurated on 22 January.

    The 46-year-old coca grower and Aymara Indian said his future salary of about $3600 a month would be

    slashed to $1800.

    Cabinet ministers and all 157 members of Morales' Movement to

    Socialism party elected to Congress will also take a 50%

    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. 

    Easing businessmen's fears

    Morales also seemed to gain crucial support from Bolivia's powerful

    business and civic leaders on Tuesday with a conciliatory meeting

    calculated to overcome widespread fears about the fiery

    former street activist's economic policies.

    "I do not have a professional education, but it is

    important that we co-operate.

    You have the professional

    capacity, I have the social consciousness"

    Evo Morales,
    Bolivia's president-elect

    He had been viewed with

    great suspicion by the Bolivian elite, but they applauded on

    Tuesday night after Morales said his government would

    create a stable legal and economic environment to attract

    investment and create jobs.

    "I do not want to harm anybody. I do not want to

    expropriate or confiscate any assets," Morales told the

    businessmen and civic leaders of Santa Cruz, a relatively

    wealthy city that has sought more autonomy in the poor

    country.

    "I want to learn from the businessmen."

    Morales promised a referendum on their autonomy

    demands, and said he would quickly resolve a dispute over

    development of El Mutun, a rich iron mining project near

    the border with Brazil that would create 2000 jobs in

    the Santa Cruz area.

    Public bidding for the project had

    been postponed, angering regional leaders, after Morales

    and the outgoing government jointly agreed to take more

    time to learn the details.

    The president-to-be adopted a

    conciliatory tone on Tuesday night.

    "I do not have a professional education, but it is

    important that we co-operate," said Morales, who left

    school after the 11th grade. "You have the professional

    capacity, I have the social consciousness."

    Gabriel

    Dabdoub, the president of the region's powerful chamber of

    commerce, said:

    "He promised more than what we asked for. 

    Let's now hope he will fulfil his promises."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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