Photo by Francesco Gallarotti
10th January 2022
The Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, has told members of the country’s National Assembly that Cuba’s GDP is expected to grow by 2% in 2022.
Addressing the assembly’s Economic Commission before Christmas, Gil said that after the 13% fall in GDP experienced over the last two years, government expects the country to enter a phase of gradual recovery as it restarts activities that were “almost paralysed” by the pandemic.
Outlining plans for the stabilisation of the Cuban economy in 2022, Gil said that the priority would be to control soaring rates of inflation (details Cuba Briefing 4 January 2022) and to ease shortages. He indicated that a US$900mn growth in exports of goods and services is expected from items including nickel, tobacco, sugar, and biopharmaceutical products. He also said that the country planned to receive some 2.5mn international visitors.
In his presentation of the country’s 2022 economic plan, he set out five priority objectives:
- Advancing the process of macroeconomic stabilisation by restoring the role of the Cuban Peso at the centre of the country’s financial system and tackling inflation and dollarisation.
- Stabilising the country’s national system of electrical power generation.
- Supporting the vulnerable, while eliminating some programmes of assistance that followed from ‘monetary reordering’.
- Transforming the state business system; and
- Decentralising power and delivery to municipalities to promote territorial development.
Gil also emphasised the need for the economy to be driven more by financial instruments and less by administrative decree, while stressing the need to reduce the budget deficit, which in 2022 will he observed remains high. The intention, he said, is to achieve within a period of three to four years, a deficit that is in proportion to the economy.
In state media reported exchanges, Gil told deputies that he agreed with the view expressed that limits must be placed on the number of personnel in state enterprises, using formulas created by each entity rather than by ministries. “There is a high level of underemployment” and “a good part in non-substantive activities” he was reported to have said.
In his published remarks he observed that it is expected that in the first quarter of 2022 progress will be made in addressing the issue. “It is not a question of reducing or freezing workforces, but rather [of] each entity carrying out an analysis of which personnel are essential to guarantee efficiency in the provision of services”, he said.
Also speaking, Meisi Bolaños, the Minister of Finance and Prices, told legislators that priorities in 2022 would include greater revenue capture, encouraging the local production of food and other goods and services, and ensuring the maintenance of social services and social programmes. She noted that a gradualist approach would be introduced in relation to the taxation of newly introduced self-managed MSMEs and non-agricultural cooperatives. She confirmed that in 2022 local budgets would be prioritised with municipalities approving and controlling priorities in the allocation of resources.
Speaking on decentralisation in the same session, President Díaz-Canel was reported to have said that confronting corruption will be essential to ensure compliance with the economic plan and the state budget at a time when municipalities will have greater prominence in delivery. In doing so he was reported to have called for breaking the verticality in relations with the country’s central state administrative bodies. “From the bottom up, from the communities to the municipality, from the latter to the provinces, and from there to the country”, he was quoted as saying.
In doing so, he proposed that ‘accountability assemblies’ be introduced in which ‘the population can debate, criticize, propose, and assess various situations’. Economic decentralisation, he said, would require all public servants to be transparent in the provision of information and accountable.
Criticising past behaviour by both elected and appointed officials, Cuba’s Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, was quoted as saying that ‘excuses such as the blockade cannot continue to be made for not achieving planned production levels’. “It is a problem of mentality, of those who do not want to assume the changes”, he said. Marrero went on to confirm Cuba’s national higher business management system, the Organización Superior de Dirección Empresarial (OSDE), would be subject to review.
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