Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Economic policy: mulling the first moves

La Jornada reports that Cuba’s economic policy apparatus is studying 1,500 ideas that came from inside the party, and hundreds of thousands that came from the public discussions, in preparation for an “imminent report.” According to reporter Gerardo Arreola’s sources, reforms will be gradual, “not spectacular,” and possibly implemented regionally.

On the agenda: more foreign investment; an agriculture opening including creation of a market for farm inputs (now provided by a single state provider) and efforts to liberate productive forces through measures that are “socialist or compatible with socialism,” according to Ramiro Valdes; efforts at import substitution; decentralization, more autonomy, and worker incentive pay in state enterprises (following the perfeccionamiento empresarial process); strengthened administrative and accounting controls applied to workers and managers; and a “special emphasis” on cutting bureaucracy.

If that’s the case, it sounds like the initial steps might include market-based moves in agriculture accompanied by a greater emphasis on improving the state sector. And if this is the entire agenda, at least in a first phase, then this is a sign of a government intent on tackling economic problems but not in crisis mode, and definitely at its own pace.

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