Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Prices, Political Will And Productivity

New Prices, Political Will And Productivity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 22 April 2016 – As the journalist Regina
Coyula warned, in order to understand what the press in Cuba is saying
you have to know "Granmática" (the language of the newspaper Granma)
and, even though the note on the first page of the official organ of the
Communist Party appears signed by the Minister of Finance and Prices,
one has to have read a lot of official editorials, listened to enough
speeches by Señor Machado Ventura and dedicated several days to studying
what they say on the Roundtable TV program, to assimilate a single
paragraph of a dissertation on the economy in its purest form.

The note says, "The final solution to this complex reality will be
achieved with increased productivity and efficiency in the national
economy," but a few lines affirm that it has been "the political will of
the Leadership of the Party and the Government (…) as well as the
reduction in food prices in the world market" that have led to the
adoption of "a set of measures aimed at gradually increasing the
purchasing power of the Cuban peso in the short term."

Every economic measure that has been taken from political will, be it to
raise or lower wages, raise or lower prices, will be unsustainable if
there is no increase in productivity. On the other hand, any increase in
the purchasing power of the Cuban peso, subject to the fickleness of
prices in the world market, will inevitably be impermanent unless we can
count on an efficient economy.

So the official note is clear while confusing. Clear because it warns
that there shouldn't be many illusions that these price decreases will
be lasting, because they are dependent on the capricious world market;
confusing because it doesn't explain the lack of political will to make
the national economy truly efficient and productive.

Every time that there is a proposal from the heights of power to control
prices, or when it is affirmed that there will never be shock therapies,
or that no one will be abandoned, or that the accumulation of property
and wealth will not be allowed, what is really being proclaimed is the
populist and voluntarist posture that aims to put political decisions
ahead of economic emergencies.

Now, the good and paternalistic State just realized that the wages
aren't enough to live on, something they apparently ignored all the
times they mercilessly sent prices through the roof and perverted the
concept of the "acquisitive power of the population" through dark and
twisted paths of corruption, the diversion of resources and the absolute
lack of belonging that workers have in relation to their workplaces.

Those who criticize the price reduction measure as insufficient will be
labeled as ungrateful; those who suggest that it would have been better
to raise wages will be considered irresponsible. Any proposal to remove
the straitjacket from private entrepreneurs could be considered as a
frontal attack on the socialist model of production, the state
enterprise and certainly the Nation.

Source: New Prices, Political Will And Productivity / 14ymedio, Reinaldo
Escobar – Translating Cuba -

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