14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2018 — The increase in state control over the private sector is the main subject in a draft of the Cuban government’s new economic regulations, Reuters reported on Friday after obtaining a copy of the document, although the news agency notes it has not yet been able to independently confirm the veracity of the source.
The draft, not yet publicly disclosed, suggests that there is discontent among some Cuban Communist Party leaders over the reforms undertaken eight years ago by Raúl Castro.
President Castro announced restrictions on the private sector last December, but the measures proposed in this new document — which according to Reuters could have been disseminated to assess its impact on public opinion — go far beyond those announced two months ago.
“It would allow houses to be licensed to operate only as a restaurant, a cafeteria or a bar, with 50-seat limit for each establishment. Currently many of Havana’s most successful private restaurants have multiple licenses, allowing them to serve 100 people or more,” the note explains.
The stricter regulations announced last December have also been included in this draft, but now more details and dates are provided for the application of the measures, although Reuters did not detail what these are.
Among the restrictions that were known last year included the limitation of business licenses to one activity per business, as well as the creation of a new department in the Ministry of Labor to manage and control independent work, that is self-employment.
The leaked document, which will be sent to provincial and regional administrative bodies, holds that the sanctions that will be applied to those who violate the new regulations will be more “rigorous.”
According to Reuters, self-employed workers in the Island represent around 12% of the country’s workforce, and their number skyrocketed from 157,731 private workers in 2010 to 567,982 in mid-2017.
“The government increased its criticism of the accumulation of wealth during the previous year,” reported the press agency, which also mentions how the prosperity of some entrepreneurs, and more specifically those working in the hotel trade, has become a source of tension.
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