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Venezuela's Chavez curbs 'excessive' expenses during crisis


MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered government employees to curb "excessive" spending during the global financial crisis, regional media reported on Thursday.

Chavez has made Vice-President Ramon Carrizales responsible for approving "rational expenditures" every time a state employee goes on a business trip, buys or rents a car, remodels or constructs administrative buildings, purchases computers, as well as uses the telephone and Internet at work.

"Whoever wants to become rich, should go somewhere else...each and every bolivar will be spent according to plan," Chavez said after signing the decree.

The order also eliminates "mega-salaries and mega-bonuses," and lowers state employees' salaries. Under the decree, the president and government ministers can earn a maximum of $4,500 per month, with mayors and regional leaders getting a top salary of $3,700. The decree also prohibits the spending of state funds on gifts and the organizing of festivals and other events.

"Now is not the time for festivities and parties. Work, work, and keep working," Chavez said.

Chavez also noted that his announcement had not been met with applause from state officials. He then advised ministers to follow his example in monetary matters, saying that he did not spend any of his approximate $1,300 salary on himself, but used half of it for alimony payments for his youngest daughter, with the remainder donated to a fund for underprivileged children. Chavez has five children.

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