Reporting by Marc Frank and editing by Jeff Franks | Reuters
A key United Nations commission has agreed after several years of dispute with Cuba to include social investment in calculations of the communist-run country’s Gross Domestic Product, a Cuban official said on Tuesday.
The decision by the U.N. Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), considered an authoritative source on the region’s economies, was a victory for the Cuban government which has argued that the international body’s national accounts methodology was biased against non-market economies.
“We have worked all year with ECLAC, including its top officials, to perfect the method that can really measure our growth,” Oscar Mederos Mesa, director of the Cuban National Statistics Office, told Reuters.
The dispute centered over whether Cuba could include in its growth calculations estimates of the market value of free social services and subsidized goods, as well as massive medical and other services exported mainly to Venezuela in exchange for oil.
Cuba began including the items in its GDP calculations in 2003, but ECLAC said the Cuban formula was under study and began noting its reservations when publishing the Caribbean island’s data.
The different methodologies produced differing numbers. In 2004, for example, Cuba said its economy grew 5 percent, while ECLAC put the number at 3 percent.
Mederos said the commission and Cuba reached an agreement earlier this year.
An ECLAC spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment, but an ECLAC report issued in July included Cuban data without any of the past qualifications.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United Nations adopted a single system of national accounts, which in the introduction said it was meant for market economies and economies in transition to market-based ones, Cuba and North Korea being the only exceptions to the rule at the time.