Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cuba expands free-market reforms

Cuba expands free-market reforms
26 December 2011 Last updated at 23:45 GMT

A Cuban selling meat on a street stall gives the thumbs -up Many
restaurants and food stalls are already privately operated

Cuba says it is expanding free-market reforms, opening more of the
retail services sector to private business.

From 1 January workers including carpenters, locksmiths, photographers
and repairmen will be allowed to become self-employed.

They will be able to set their own prices, while paying taxes and
leasing their premises from the state.

The measures are the latest reforms aimed at reviving Cuba's socialist
economy by boosting private enterprise.

President Raul Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel in 2008, has
said the changes represent an effort to update rather than abandon the
socialist model.

His government plans to have up to 40% of the the workforce employed by
the non-state sector by 2016, compared with just 10% at the end of 2010.
Dramatic change

Restrictions on private business have been relaxed, large numbers of
state workers have been laid off, and tens of thousands of Cubans have
applied for licenses to work for themselves.

For the first time in decades people are allowed to buy and sell homes
and cars and take out private business loans from banks.

Earlier this year state barbers shops and beauty salons were handed over
to their employees, who now work for themselves while paying rent, tax
and social security to the state.

That initiative is now being extended to a wide range of small retail
services, including shoe, watch and electronic repairs, the official
Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

The change will be rolled out gradually over the course of the year,
starting in six provinces including the capital, Havana.

President Castro's programme of reform represents a dramatic change in
Cuba, which for nearly half a century was been run as a command economy,
with almost all activity controlled by the state.


No comments:

Post a Comment