November 22, 2019 / 9:13 PM / 17 days ago

Mexico central bank chief says minimum wage should rise, at measured pace

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Central Bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon Carrillo speaks during an unveiling event of Mexico's new 200 peso bill in Mexico City, Mexico September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Minimum wage increases are necessary in Mexico, though the government should enact them in such a way that does not hurt job creation or pressure prices, central bank governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after an event in the capital, Diaz de Leon acknowledged that Mexico’s minimum wage falls below what families must earn to support themselves.

“The opinion of the Bank of Mexico has been that the pace or speed with which that gap is settled should be such that it does not distort the labor market,” he said.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has already increased wages and has vowed to push through further raises as the country seeks to persuade U.S. Democratic lawmakers to ratify a new North American trade deal.

Although Lopez Obrador has pledged to respect the autonomy of institutions such as the central bank, his critics are concerned that its independence will be compromised. Lopez Obrador has occasionally made comments about interest rates.

Diaz de Leon said the best way for the bank to preserve its autonomy was to meet its goals, comply with its mandate and to be held accountable.

He added that he views protectionism as one of the biggest risks to global economic growth.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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