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Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 00:51 UK

Raul Castro raises state pension

Raul Castro in Cuban National Assembly
Raul Castro took over the presidency from his brother Fidel in February

Cuban president Raul Castro has said he will raise state pensions by up to 20% and increase wages for court employees.

Raul Castro said the increases, which will come into effect next month, were "fair recognition" of workers' effort.

But the government said it did not have the resources to increase salaries for all workers.

Since taking over the presidency from his brother Fidel in February, Raul Castro has introduced a series of liberalising economic measures.

They include an easing of restrictions on the ownership of mobile phones, lifting a ban on Cubans staying at major hotels, and allowing private farmers more involvement in how they use their land.

The Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported Castro as saying that the pension rises were recompense for those who have "dedicated a great part of their lives to working... and who remain firm in defence of socialism".

Under the scheme, according to the newspaper, more than 2.1m pensioners will receive increases of about $2 (1) a month, raising minimum monthly pensions to $9.50 (4.70).

The Cuban leader also announced salary increases for more than 9,000 court workers and judges.

The sector's average monthly salary will increase to about $27 (13), according to the newspaper.

In total, the increases will cost the government an estimated $35m (17.6m) annually.



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