Cuba to boost economy by expanding private cooperatives

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-7-10 10:38:19

The Cuban government is "studying" the possibility of loosening the reins on private cooperatives, hoping to bring diversity into its economy that is currently dominated by state-run enterprises, official daily Trabajadores said Monday.

The move is aimed at allowing private cooperatives, which are already operating in the agricultural sector, to fuel growth in other sectors, including transportation, food and services, the paper said.

Claudio Alberto Rivera, president of Cuba's Society of Cooperatives, hailed the initiative, which was one of several reforms approved by the last congress of the Cuban Communist Party in April 2011.

"The empowerment of cooperatives as a form of management is one of the ways to modernize our economic model," said Rivera, "it represents an alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal system" worldwide.

Rivera predicted that private cooperatives would play an important role in Cuba's economic development over the next few years.

Cuban analysts were busy developing guidelines for such non-state-run entities, including operation manuals, accounting systems, pricing and tax policies, and social security rates, he said.

"Along with state enterprises, the key engines of our economy, the emerging cooperatives will be an invigorating element," said Rivera.

"We want to implement cooperatives in such sectors as services, food,transportation, and others. The country is engaged in creating the legal framework to do so, and our experiences in agriculture have put us in a better position today to expand that kind of non-state management to other fields," he said.

Rivera said the training of new entrepreneurs was key, so the National Association of Small Farmers and other state institutions were currently contributing to the development of private-sector managers.

Last April, the Cuban government approved the creation of cooperatives "on an experimental basis" in sectors beyond agriculture, in a bid to update the island nation's aging socialist economic model and boost efficiency and productivity.

Cuban's economy, which had heavily relied on the former Soviet Union, was devastated after the Soviet Union's collapse and has been unable to shape up due to US trade embargo.

According to the Cuban National Statistics Office, the country's GDP was 47 billion pesos (about 2.37 billion US dollars) in 2010, up 2.1 percent from the previous year.

The average salary of some 11 million Cubans is below global average, though the country's unemployment rate is also low at 1.6 percent.

Since taking office in February 2008, Raul Castro has spearheaded reforms to revive the economy, including allowing limited private enterprises.

Today, 387,275 private-sector workers are registered in Cuba and officials expect the number to increase to over half a million by the end of 2012.

Posted in: Americas

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