14ymedio, Havana, 24 July 2019 — What seemed impossible one week ago is already a reality in Pinar del Río and Las Tunas. As of August 1, the prices of beverages sold in private premises will be ‘capped’ in both provinces, according to their respective Provincial Administration Councils (CAP).
Beers, juices, soft drinks and malts that are sold in restaurants and private cafes can only be sold up to a maximum price established in the list approved by the CAP. In the case of the municipality of Viñales, a tourist epicenter, “a differentiated study will be done and will be reported shortly.”
Prices for nationally produced beers, Bucanero and Cristal, in 350 milliliter bottles and 355 ml cans will be set at 30 CUP [Cuban pesos] (1.25 CUC [Cuban convertible pesos]); and locally produced beers, clear and in bottles of 350 ml, will be 15 CUP. The Cacique and Mayabe brands, which are sold in 355 ml cans will cost 25 CUP, while imported beers — with current value in state markets of up to 1.40 CUC — will be set at 35 Cuban pesos (1.45 CUC) .
Juice boxes of 200 milliliters will be set at 25 CUP, those of 500 ml at 35 CUP, and those of a liter at 65 CUP, prices that leave a very narrow profit margin for private businesses. The canned Buccaneer malt of 355 milliliters will be set at 20 CUP and imported malts of the same volume at 25 CUP, the price list details.
Meanwhile, soft drinks in 1.5 liter boxes may not exceed 30 CUP and soda, in cans of 355 milliliters, 15 CUP.
Shortly after the announcement, the economist Pedro Monreal described it on Twitter as “irrational and there is no need to demonstrate it.” According to the academic, “the test of demonstrating that this could have some rationality lies with those to whom the idea occurred. To begin with, they might kindly indicate the ‘school of economic thought’ by which they were inspired.”
The decision is part of a package of economic measures announced at the end of June by the Government which began with a wage increase that benefited 2.7 million workers in the state sector.
In recent weeks, beer has been at the center of attention since the publication of a report in the official press of Cienfuegos, which questioned the high prices of the product in the private sector.
The text reported that private businesses were selling beer for “200% of its sale price, perhaps 250% of its cost price. For someone who did not invest a drop of sweat to produce it.”
The article also referred to sources within the administrative framework of state stores who warned private businesses about the sale of national beers and about profiting by selling them in more than the allowed quantities, established as two boxes (of 24 cans or bottles each) per person.
In Pinar del Río, the Council of the Provincial Administration has also set a price of 5 CUP for recreation equipment and cart rides for children pulled by animals and for other services related to children’s entertainment. Among these are included motor-operated devices created by the entrepreneurs themselves to inflated toys imported by individuals.
For its part, the Municipal Council of the Administration of Sandino limited the activities of leasing homes, rooms or public spaces in La Bajada, on the Guanahacabibes peninsula, a protected area with a wide diversity of flora and fauna.
Perhaps I understood it the wrong way around, but I believe it has been said — several times — the official focus is to use economic mechanisms and not administrative ones. Beer is not a basic product, and should operate based on supply and demand in the private sector. — Pedro Monreal (@pmmonreal) July 24, 2019
In La Bajada, a coastal community, the rental of houses to tourists has proliferated in recent years, along with private guide services to the area, horseback rides and private food services.
In Las Tunas the measure also applies to prepared food. The price of bread with roast pork will be set at 5 CUP, the same as bread with ham, while the price of bread with a hamburger will be 7 pesos. Fruit juices and smoothies will be fixed at 2 and 3 CUP respectively.
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