YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The Armenian government announced on Thursday plans to increase the minimum wage in the country by more than 23 percent.

A bill drafted by two members of Armenia’s parliament and discussed by the government at a weekly meeting in Yerevan would raise it from 55,000 drams ($115) to 63,000 drams per month.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s cabinet decided to go further and ask the National Assembly to set the minimum monthly wage at 68,000 drams ($142).

The higher figure was proposed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Deputy Labor Minister Gemafin Gasparian said it is based on recent research on the cost of living in the country which was commissioned by the ministry.

Gasparian added that 35,000 people working in the public sector and 45,000 others employed by private firms are paid 55,000 drams per month at present. According to government data, the average monthly wage in Armenia stood at 179,000 drams as of April.

Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian said in this regard that the government should make sure that private employers are unable to illegally underpay their workers through “hourly wage manipulations.” “I think that we need to add to this bill regulations that would limit such room for maneuver by defining the length of a working day,” he said.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed. “Especially against the background of the existing level of social security … we must do everything to preclude abuses in this sphere,” he told government members.

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