Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reforms, slow and steady

The website of the newspaper Trabajadores is placing news stories on the economic reforms in this useful section called “Sin pausa” (“without pause”). The phrase was used in a speech last July by Vice President Machado Ventura; he said the process is proceeding “sin prisas, pero sin pausa;” i.e. not hurrying, but not pausing. Which seems to be the case:

  • Juventud Rebelde: 71 contracts have been executed between farm producers and tourism industry businesses. These are the first fruits of what the article calls an “incipient” policy, one announced last November that allows agricultural producers, including private ones, to contract directly with businesses in the tourism sector. It’s a winner all around, except for the government intermediaries rendered unnecessary by these new private transactions. And it’s a very clear sign of the government implementing its plan piece by piece, even in cases such as this where government is called upon to get out of a business that it had carried out for decades.

  • On the road in eastern Cuba, Reuters’ Marc Frank does some colorful reporting on a great new entrepreneur with an establishment fronting the central highway, and on the development of the residential real estate market outside Havana. (Don’t tell Senator Rubio, but Cuban Americans are a big factor in that market.)

  • More from Marc Frank, from Holguin: 211 state cafeterias in that province will be the subject of a pilot program where they will be leased to the workers, who will then run them on their own, as they see fit. Whether the enterprise will be constituted as a cooperative or another form of business remains to be seen. They will launch well after private restaurants and lunch stands have established themselves, Frank reports, providing “stiff competition on almost every block.”

  • Bending the cost curve: Cuban health care spending dropped 7.7 percent last year, the health minister reported.

  • The Cuban government says it’s not the complete solution to the public’s housing needs, but it will provide 160 million pesos in grants to support home repair or construction for families on the lower end of the income scale. That amounts to about 40 percent of last year’s revenues from the sale of construction materials, Trabajadores reports. The maximum grant will be 80,000 pesos, of which a maximum of 30 percent may be used to pay for labor. Recipients will enter a contract governing their use of the money. More here from Trabajadores and in English from AP.

  • It’s tax return season in Cuba for private entrepreneurs (state employees do not pay income tax). This story in Granma explains that the season for filing returns is extended one month to March 30, and those who file by February 28 can deduct five percent from their tax payment.

1 comment:

Antonio said...

I think I can safely state that all the changes in the last 3 years show that the main challenge facing Cuba is FIDELISMO, not SOCIALISMO