Decree law confirms primacy of Cuba’s state enterprise sector

Photo by Florian Wehde

Cuba has confirmed in a decree law that socialist state enterprises will remain the principal economic entities in the Cuban economy, play the main strategic role in the production of goods and services, but in future have autonomy in administration and management.

This new decree law contains 15 measures that make up a package of legal provisions announced since September 2020 by the Ministry of Economy and Planning and are intended to strengthen state enterprises while enabling their transformation in ways that increase productivity, higher quality services and efficiency. Among the measures and incentives, the decree law formally recognises are the possibility of greater flexibility in workers earnings after taxes and pay for high performance.

The gazetting of the decree law confirms the substance of the discussion on the role of the state and non-state sectors that took place in the run up to the eighth Communist Party Congress in April, and the language contained in the Central Committee Report delivered by Raúl Castro in his role as the outgoing First Secretary of the Party (Cuba Briefings 19 and 26 April 2021).

In adopting the Central Committee’s report, the Congress noted “Comrade Raúl underlines the importance of the principle that the ownership of all the people over the fundamental means of production constitutes the basis of the real power of the workers”. Therefore, it observed, “the state business system is called upon to demonstrate in practice and strengthen which is and will be the dominant form of management in the economy”.

In formally approving Castro’s report, the Congress also agreed “the expansion of the activities of nonstate forms of management should not lead to a privatisation process that would sweep away the foundations and essences of socialist society, built over more than six decades”.

In his address at the opening of the Congress, Raúl Castro had criticised those who wished to use the country’s economic reforms to enable “the massive privatisation of the people’s property”, to establish private practice for some professions, who had “demanded that private commercial importation be authorised” and who had sought “to explode the socialist principle of the state monopoly on foreign trade”.

“These are questions that cannot be confused”, he had told delegates, adding, “there are limits that we cannot exceed because the consequences would be irreversible and would lead to strategic errors and the very destruction of socialism and therefore of national sovereignty and independence”. He also said that Cuba’s state business system now faced the challenge of “demonstrating and consolidating its position as the dominant form of management in the economy” and this would involve “a shaking of business structures from top to bottom”.

In earlier comments President Díaz-Canel was reported to have said that both Cuba’s Communist Party and the Government had the will to continue advancing and seeing non-state forms of management in a ‘complementary role’ and that the non-state sector had a “recognised value” in the country’s economic and social guidelines (lineamientos).

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