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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Questionable accounting by Cuban government accepted by United Nations

Posted December 21, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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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.

Member Comments

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On December 21, 2008, publisher wrote:

So, it seems like two Communist countries can fudge their GDP economic numbers but no other country in the world can do the same.

Nice job UN. Way to help out Cuba.

I can only imagine the creative accounting for joint ventures like Sol Melia, Pebercan, Sherritt and others.

Cuba is an economic shit hole. Any country that “loan” the Castro government money or “invests” in a joint venture is simply giving money to the Communist government.

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On December 22, 2008, pipefitter wrote:

Publisher,
It’s funny that companies like Sherritt invest money in Cuba. Don’t you think it might be because they know that they can get a good return on their investment? Our governments are not supposed to make money. They just know how to flush ours away like they are doing now!

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On December 22, 2008, bernie wrote:

Perhaps the US could deport Bernard Madoff to show them how to properly
adopt a national accounting system?????????

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On December 22, 2008, publisher wrote:

What Madoff did was a crime. What the Cuban government does is now acceptable accounting by the United Nations for only two countries in the world.

Doesn’t make either one right.