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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

The Cuban government and the Council of Ministers - what a sad joke

Posted December 24, 2011 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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Yaima Puig Meneses | Granma.cu | with commentary in bold by Rob Sequin, publisher of HavanaJournal.com

We cannot undertake any project, activity or task, if we have not carefully planned every detail beforehand, including the identification of individuals in charge of carrying out the plans. Success is contingent upon this, indicated President Raúl Castro Ruz during a Council of Ministers expanded meeting held December 16. Planning, planning, planning. I can only imagine the hours and hours of meeting so the Cuban government can plan for a freer market economy.

The President of the Councils of State and Ministers additionally insisted on the need to work in an integrated fashion in order to avoid contradictions between different measures adopted to update the country’s economic model. God forbid there are any “contradictions” in the economic model.

The Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development was established precisely for this reason, he recalled. According to information presented, the Commission has developed a work plan through 2015 for the implementation of the guidelines approved at the 6th Communist Party Congress and is developing functional and structural improvement plans for the country’s central state leadership bodies and systems. meaning regulation, inspection, oversight, taxes, limits on freedom, bureaucracy, red tape, licenses, lease and loan approvals etc etc. Sounds like a tightly controlled not-so-free economy.

The development of every policy and measure is to proceed through three fundamental stages. First, studies about the issue are undertaken, in order to develop proposals, including the legal changes implied. These are then submitted for approval and finally the implementation of adopted measures is initiated. Study, approve then implement. Study the situation for a couple years then approve changes at maybe one of the two Parliament meetings then implement in stages over five years. Am I wrong?

Prior to the implementation of all measures, the requisite conditions must be in place, those responsible for their implementation must be trained and a broad-based information campaign must be carried out to keep the population well informed and facilitate their understanding of the decisions. Doesn’t sound like the free market is coming any time soon to Cuba.

Using this approach, a group of measures have been put into practice prioritizing the development of new forms of management. In this context, the renting of state-owned facilities to self-employed barbers and hairdressers, and those offering personal, household and technical services, has been generalized.

Retail sales of some electrical appliances in CUC have also been reinitiated, as part of the basic strategy to progressively improve and facilitate self-employment and the related tax structure.

The Council of Ministers was additionally provided information about measures associated with social policies which have, thus far, been implemented with positive results. These include the incorporation of new articles and supplies within the construction materials available for sale at non-subsidized prices; changes allowing more flexibility in the transfer of ownership of dwellings and motor vehicles, as well as procedures involved in the provision of subsidies to individuals who do not have the means to repair their homes. “more flexibility” as long as you can afford it but if you can afford it then you must have been doing something illegal so the Cuban government will just confiscate the citizens’ money.

Reports were also presented about the updating of land use information – as outlined in Guidelines 187 and 189; the reorganization of sugar cane plantings and their concentration closer to mills – Guideline 209 – and an analysis of the current situation of Basic Units of Cooperative Production Units (UBPC) around the country, their prospects and proposals to resolve their problems. That’s it? This is the only mention of the sugar industry? I guess so since Fidel killed the industry decades ago. What a shame.

Also discussed at the meeting was a recently approved policy on the sale of agricultural products in Havana, Artemisa and Mayabeque. The policy addresses the re-organization of supply and demand, non-subsidized produce markets in these areas. Controlled, restricted, approved and taxed supply and demand.

These are only a few of the initial steps being taken in the implementation of the Party Congress Guidelines, but the learning process has been intense, according to those involved. Intense? I can only imagine. Many low level politicians must be demanding reforms but their input falls on deaf ears. Coming are changes of much greater magnitude and complexity involving more far-reaching policies and measures governing the country’s economic model, thus the current insistence on detailed, thorough planning, including the drafting of numerous laws which must be approved and implemented. Someday maybe. I’ll believe it when I see it AND these new laws are not FILLED with restrictions that make practical sense.

Next on the agenda was an analysis of preparations underway for the Population and Household Census and the test Census carried out in Candelaria and Segundo Frente, in the provinces of Artemisa and Santiago de Cuba, respectively. Data obtained during the Census to conclude in September of 2012, will provide the state with more accurate information as to the economic and social situation of the population, which is key to the development and implementation of many measures. Really? A census is two large towns is “key to the development and implementation of many measures”. So, I guess we’ll have to wait until AFTER the September 2012 census is completed, tallied, reviewed, approved and acknowledged? So, maybe sometime in 2013 Cuba will have futher “development and implementation of many measures”. Sounds about right.

In this context, the President emphasized the importance of government officials learning to work with the figures provided every year by the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI), when considering solutions to local problems. Since there are no independent journalists in Cuba who can investigate any statistics, the Cuban government can use any assessment and accounting measures it chooses and we all know that statistics can be manipulated.

Later on, the results from a survey of self-employed workers conducted between July 10 and August 10, 2011, by ONEI’s Population and Development Center, were presented. The selected individuals worked in 35 areas of significant interest nationally, in which 70% of the country’s self-employed work.

Comparing these results with those obtained in a similar 2009 survey, indicates that the number of self-employed workers has doubled That’s it? Doubled? Since 2009 when there were hardly any self employed? Wow, shocking when you isolate this comment – as a result of policy changes facilitating work in this sector, and that these workers are better educated. Meaning they are probably University graduates who can’t make any money working in their area of study so they become taxi drivers, pirated DVD sellers, barbers, paladar owners etc. The survey indicated that there are now more women among the self-employed and that the age groups most represented within this sector continue to be those 40-49 years of age and those over 60. I’m sorry but “self employed” in Cuba and “self employed” in the rest of the world are two completely different terms.

During the Council of Ministers expanded meeting results were also presented from a study carried out to support a clearer definition of the roles and authority of local People’s Power Assemblies and governments, as outlined in Guidelines 6, 35 and 36.

Proposals based on these findings will be piloted in the provinces of Mayabeque and Artemisa and represent only an initial approximation of what is required, given the complexity of this issue. Nevertheless, an evaluation of this pilot project will support the subsequent extension across the country of a new system of local and provincial administration. Any details of the proposals? Nope.

Discussed next was a report from the Ministry of Agriculture on land use within the country. A study is being carried out in order to develop proposals for the most rational use of land, while at the same time preserving areas for agricultural and forest development, respecting the category designations assigned to different areas. More studies. Study then review then implement in limited regions affecting a limited amount of people with restrictions, more studies, reviews and in the end you have the SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT DAY.

As part of this broader issue, the work underway in the sugar industry to re-locate sugar cane plantings closer to mills was addressed. Hmmm. It took the Cuban government 50+ years to figure this out? I guess it took a lot of study to come to this conclusion. This reorganization will, along with other benefits, lower transportation costs; increase productivity; reduce the number of intermediate storage facilities; save electricity and fuel, as well as improving the quality of cane arriving at mills. More, fresher cane should arrive, in a more timely fashion, since delays at storage facilities are being eliminated. This is the most sensible statement in this entire article. I’m glad the Cuban government has realized these facts… now that they are pretty much shutting down the sugar industry.

Also relayed were new details of the operation begun 18 months ago, involving several institutions and organizations, and directed at reducing illegal behavior within the cattle industry. As for this issue, the President reiterated that the most severe sanctions allowed by law will continue to be levied against violators, mobilizing the combined efforts of the justice system, the courts, the General Comptroller’s Office and related specialized bodies within the Ministry of the Interior to confront this problem.

——————————Havana Journal Comments——————————

For all you Communist wannabees and Fidel lovers in Canada and the US… Go live in Cuba AS A CUBAN CITIZEN and see how long you’d last. Bring you entire family and leave all your cash at home.

When you go, remember that you cannot just get on a plane and leave whenever you have had enough. You must apply for an exit visa just like all Cuban citizens.

Most wouldn’t last one month and a Michael Moore or Sean Penn wouldn’t last one week. Can you imagine a Michael Moore trying to live in Cuba and trying to “expose” Cuban government officials for corruption or a Sean Penn protesting for civil rights and gay rights in Cuba? I can laugh at how quickly they would be arrested in Cuba.

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE

Member Comments

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On December 24, 2011, publisher wrote:

You should always read everything by Paul Haven of Reuters.

He knows what he is talking about and reports the facts… not Cuban government altered facts but “on the ground” facts.

This article Cuba Wraps up Dramatic Year of Economic Change is a GREAT summary of the self employment situation in Cuba.