Cuba’s President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has told the Council of Ministers that a new and more managerially-led ethical approach is required if the problems facing the country are to be resolved.

Official reports appearing in the state media said that at a recent meeting of Ministers he explained that based on his and other senior political figures travels around the country it was apparent that there was a need for every entity to develop a phased approach to solving problems. This would require identifying immediate, medium and longer-term actions, while fighting more effectively ‘corruption, theft and bureaucracy’, he was reported to have said.

Granma reported that Díaz-Canel also told Ministers that the self-employed sector while complementary to the Cuban economy, required ‘the attention of the State’ to control their activities and to provide training to ensure that the sector functions properly. .

At the meeting participants considered a wide range of issues which taken together suggest the continuing and serious economic and social challenges the Cuban government faces.

The report said that the Council of Ministers meeting was joined by the presidents of the leading state businesses and the main leaders of the Party and Government in all 15 provinces, by videoconference.

Foreign investment required in the agri-food sector: Ministers heard that annually Cuba imports some 3m tons of food and that it was imperative that the country worked towards reducing the number of products that are imported. To achieve this, stress is to be placed on investments to increase primary production and to modernise industrial plant. Participants were told that financing would only be possible from external sources. The reports said that foreign investment could play a more active role and incorporate benefits such as access to export markets and the inclusion of new management methods and advanced technology. It was also emphasised that priority should be given to linking agriculture to the food processing industry.

Cuban reports quoted the President as saying; “We have to be more proactive in foreign investment” and as saying that the actions of the agri-food sector had been insufficient. They also noted that he had ‘insisted on the need for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment to link directly with the provinces’ updating the country’s export map.

Need to address planning violations immediately: The need to address illegalities associated with territorial and urban planning, especially in the provinces of Havana, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Matanzas were stressed. Granma noted that Ministers, business representatives and provincial administrations heard that problems including unauthorised demolitions, illegal construction, the replacements of houses, illegal land occupations, and the seizure of premises belonging to state entities must be acted on immediately before new problems accumulate.

Cybersecurity awareness a priority: The dangers inherent in the failure of many Cubans to understand the relationship between a computerised society and cybersecurity were stressed. Granma’s reporting said that the Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, drew attention to the lack of perception of risk in relation to cybersecurity issues. President Díaz Canel insisted that Cuban platforms must be strengthened using Cuban apps, many of which he said were now as robust as foreign ones.

Action required against criminal networks: The meeting also reportedly heard about violations relating to the interface between state entities and self-employed workers, noting the growing number of issues relating to self-enrichment, the increase in criminal networks, tax evasion and other problems. Granma said that the Cuban President, after giving the floor through videoconference to the municipal and provincial authorities, was emphatic the battle was about ethics. “Events of this kind”, he reportedly said, “deteriorate the moral environment and the credibility of the State”

The Council of Ministers also discussed the need for AZCUBA to ‘address, solve or lessen’ the deficiencies in the sugar industry; actions to avoid energy outages affecting services to the population; and placing emphasis in the 2019 Plan on the substitution of imports through national production.

Cuba Briefing is available on a subscription only basis. Please click here to sign up to a free trial.