Saturday, September 17, 2016

How the Cuban Gov. Hides Its Dirt Poor Salaries

How the Cuban Gov. Hides Its Dirt Poor Salaries
September 15, 2016
Marlene Azor Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES —The National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI)
hasn't published a series of necessary indicators for the government's
tax policy.

Studies about poverty in Cuba are very scarce or limited to the capital
and are over ten years old. The reason for this is a lack of information
that researchers have to carry out any kind of analysis. The subject is
taboo for the government which doesn't hesitate, however, when it's time
to implement a tax law on salaries.

The Human Poverty Index in Cuba isn't published, the minimum wage isn't
either and neither is the price of individual and family-size basic
product baskets. The report about the size of pensions is also missing.
Using this "secret" mechanism, the government has decided to implement
taxes on the Cuban population's social security and on incomes.

Debates on and, the two leading government
websites, reveal the population's discontent. The measure has been
criticized repeatedly based on two fundamental points:

Tax bases on 500 pesos (20 USD) are erratic because quite frankly a
salary of 500 pesos isn't even enough to cover the basic cost of food
and personal hygiene needs for one person in a month.

The public sector continues to be the most affected, punished by taxes
and low salaries. Teachers, professors, doctors and health personnel
have received nominal payrises but prices in government run retail
stores continue to have 240% and 260% sales tax applied to them,
according to Cuban economists. This contradiction hasn't been overcome
in the last 26 years since the "Special Period" which the Cuban
population has never really come out of.

There is public awareness among the general population of the need to
pay taxes, however, there are two contradictions that prevent them from
accepting this public policy: low salaries and the announcement up until
a few months ago about "free" education and healthcare as if the State
had a "black box of investment" apart from what Cuban workers produce.

Neither health nor education were never "free" but universal, nor will
nominal payrises produce any increase in real salaries. Granma and not
the ONEI published the fact that average salaries have increased to 779
Cuban pesos, but as the ONEI doesn't publish the price of the basic food
basket, consumers for their part, are unable to feed themselves and buy
essential personal hygiene items with this salary. Not included are
other worker expenditures such as transport, clothes and shoes, housing
and medicine.

However, teachers in primary, secondary, pre-university and universities
with salaries below 500 pesos or a little over this amount have been
paying 5% of their income to social security for about a year now.

Senior doctors who have the most experience earn 1200-1500 pesos (60-75
USD) a month, but this salary is only enough for those who live alone
and don't have to support any family members. The discrepancy between
social and labor politics and tax laws is the result of the Cuban
government's lack of information and their antidemocratic laws and
imposition of reform policies despite workers dirt poor salaries.

The Central Union of Cuban Workers (CTC), the only labor organization
allowed on the island, accepts this abuse against workers making it
clear once again that their role is to represent the State's interests
and not those of Cuban workers. It was this July when the
General/president Raul Castro said that salaries were insufficent to
cover Cuban families' basic needs. How does it make sense to apply a tax
law on salaries if these are dirt poor in all sectors of the state
economic system?

Is it because the president is unable to lead the country and delegates
his responsibilities to the ONAT[1] tax office?

If workers aren't taking to the streets, this is because of the
government's repressive actions and the absence of recoverable economic
rights in Cuba. Cuban citizens can't influence the decisions that the
government makes supporting their own interests, nor can they turn to
international forums with their demands because it's the government
itself who violating their civil rights inside the country

The UN's International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
highlights in article 7:

a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with: A decent
living for themselves and their families in accordance with the
provisions of the present Covenant;
The UN recognizes economic, social and cultural rights to be recoverable
by law and subject to review by a court.

In this regard, the Cuban government is violating this right and maybe
that's why it hasn't endorsed the UN Convenant[2], so as not to
subjugate itself to the scrutiny of its arbitrary tax and income laws
before the League of Nations.

[1]National Tax Administration of Cuba.

[2]The Cuban government signed the UN's Human Rights Covenant in 2008,
however it still hasn't endorsed it 8 years later. By not ratifying
them, they have no connecting value to the country's domestic
law-making, nor does it give Cuban citizens the opportunity to go to UN
meetings in order to recover their rights which are denied to them by
their own government.

Source: How the Cuban Gov. Hides Its Dirt Poor Salaries - Havana -

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