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Cuba’s Communist Party lays out a vague future for private enterprise

Cuba’s Communist Party lays out a vague future for private enterprise

Reports of greater opportunities for small and medium enterprises are
based on vaguely worded documents that project government plans until
2030, which were discussed during the Communist Party’s recent VII Congress.
BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Reports that Cuba plans to legalize small and medium enterprises
delighted those who favor the expansion of the island’s private sector,
but a closer look shows the change is mentioned in vaguely worded
documents that project government plans until 2030.

The legalization of the so-called PYMES (Spanish acronym for small and
medium enterprises) is part of a Cuban Communist Party document noting a
project to “conceptualize” the “theoretical basis … for the economic
and social model that we aspire to as part of the process of
actualizing” the island’s system.

The project was made public as part of another document on a “Projected
National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030 … whose
fulfillment will contribute to reaching that model, in the long run.”

Those expecting quick approval of the PYMES — Cuba now technically
recognizes only cooperatives and private business activity by people,
such as plumbers and carpenters but not plumbing or carpentry companies
— should prepare for the slow pace of government reforms.

The two documents, discussed during the Communist Party’s recent VII
Congress, reveal as much about the goals the government has been unable
to meet in more than 50 years as the ideology and economic policies that
blocked the road to those goals.

The texts, which are expected to be ratified by the legislative National
Assembly after they are discussed by party cadre and members of mass
organizations, reflect the general goals of increasing the country’s
Gross Domestic Product, productivity, spending on infrastructure,
internet connectivity and technological development, as well as its
economic integration with the rest of the world.

Among the strategic sectors singled out for development in the 2030 Plan
are construction, electricity, telecommunications, internet
connectivity, transportation and warehousing for commercial activities,
hydraulic installations and networks; tourism and related activities
such as marinas, golf and real estate; professional services, especially
medical personnel; non-sugar agriculture and the food industry;
production of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; the sugar industry and
light industry for the domestic market.

The plan also includes sections on the need to give value to salaries,
maintain the levels of social assistance, avoid “shock therapies” and
improve the quality of life of Cubans as well as the quality of services
such as health and education.

The documents make no mention at all of the massive emigration of
Cubans, especially the young, which has increased considerably in recent
years and together with the low birth rate is leading to an increasingly
aged population.

There is only one reference to ways of stimulating the birth rate and
one broad acknowledgment of the importance of “economic and social
stability, without insecurities or uncertainties about the future of
people or families, an essential achievement that must be consolidated.”

The texts also note that “in the future society to which we aspire” the
socialist economy and central planning will occupy “a primordial place.”
That means the “existence of non-state forms (of economic activity) will
depend on the goals of socialist development.”

The government will not allow “the concentration of property and wealth
by natural persons or non-state enterprises,” the documents added.

The economic model described by the Cuban leadership recognizes market
forces but puts them under direct government controls and makes them
part of a centrally planned economy, which until now has produced few
positive results.

Within this tiny space, direct foreign investment will be allowed and
the government will “recognize private property that fulfills a public
function in specific activities and whose owners are people or companies
— Cuban as well as foreign,” according to the documents.

The texts added that the government will decide what activities will be
allowed and their size, and that investments by companies totally owned
by foreigners — rather than co-investments with government entities —
will be authorized “on a case-by-case” basis.

Cubans will be able to establish “small businesses carried on basically
by the worker and his family,” the documents added, as well as “private
companies of medium, small and micro sizes, according to the volume of
the activity and the number of workers, (to be) legally recognized as
companies.”

The text also noted that the private businesspeople will be “a
complementary element” in the future economy, needed to create jobs and
increase productivity but under intense government controls and precise
limitations.

As the government announced years ago, the 2030 plan calls for
eliminating Cuba’s dual-currency system. But the plan explains that
price controls will be retained by “regulating the currency in
circulation, exchange rates, measures to regulate monopolistic and
speculative activities, government’s purchases and sales at adequate
rices and fixing prices or their limits.”

On national defense and security, the Communist Party documents state
that the island will retain “essential objectives” designed to guarantee
the preservation of the Cuban political system. It also states that “the
revolution will never let down its guard” and adds that “history shows
all too eloquently that those who forget this principle do not survive
their mistake.”

The texts also recognize “the right to a job, health, education,
security, information, recreation, culture, sports and the welfare
system” and “work toward a decent home.”

It makes no mention of fundamental civil liberties but does include “the
right to defend the independence and the socialist homeland.”

Source: Cuba’s Communist Party lays out a vague future for private
enterprise | In Cuba Today –
www.incubatoday.com/news/article80972972.html

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