“We Will Defend Our Cooperative Through Administrative and Political Channels,” Says Cuban Firm, Scenius

The non-agricultural cooperative Scenius is still promoting its accounting services through its website. (Screen capture Scenius.coop)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 August 2017 — Alarms have soared in the non-state sector after the independent magazine El Toque announced, on Friday, the authorities’ decision to close the Scenius cooperative, which specializes in economic, accounting and tax advice

“We allegedly incurred a violation of our ‘Corporate Purpose’, but we disagree and we will appeal,” Alfonso Larrea Barroso, a lawyer and the commercial director of the cooperative, told 14ymedio. From the official notification of closure, the executives have 30 days to liquidate operations with their fifty clients.

Two years ago Larrea offered statements to the official Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) newspaper in which he said Scenius is “the infantry of the cooperativism,” being the first cooperative to provide economic, accounting and financial services.

At that time, Larrea was optimistic and estimated that by 2016 the country would have some 12,000 non-agricultural cooperatives (CNA), a form of management authorized since 2012. “With an average of ten members in each, there would be almost 120,000 members. And thinking about the traditional family, there would be 480,000 people directly affected by this form of management,” he predicted.

However, that projected figure was never achieved and only 431 CNAs were constituted as of the end of the first half of this year.

Now, Larrea and his colleagues have hired a lawyer, who will appeal the decision of the Ministry of Finance and Prices. The entrepreneur regrets not only the end of his project, but also the more than 320 people who will be without work after the closure.

The commercial director also told this newspaper that at present “one hundred percent” of his clients “are state-owned enterprises, for example the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Communications and the Center for Neuroscience.”

After they were informed of the decision, Scenius managers held a meeting with the partners and the employees. “The decision was taken to defend the cooperative in every possible way, first by administrative means and second on the political side, that is, to demand that there be a discussion,” says Larrea.

Scenius has been dedicated, since its creation, to verifying the quality of accounting records and working with bookkeepers, and was also involved in the development and execution of economic plans, the preparation of investment budgets and the management of collections or payments. Their motto speaks of this approach: “Every champion has a coach.”

In the most recent session of the National Assembly, the CNA form of management was the target of Raul Castro’s criticism during his closing speech. “We decided to allow the cooperatives, we tried with some and immediately we launched ourselves to create dozens,” said the leader.

Castro said that many of the decisions in this sector have been made with “a good dose of superficialities and an excess of enthusiasm… We have not renounced the deployment and development of self-employment, nor the continuance of the experiment of non-agricultural cooperatives.”

This week the government also announced the temporary and final suspension in the delivery of licenses for several forms of self-employment, a decision that has caused great nervousness in the private sector.