14ymedio, Havana, 7 June 2021 — The economic data of Ciego de Ávila does not leave room for optimism. Local companies in the city, the provincial capital, lost more than 53 million pesos until April, Roberto Obregón García, mayor of the Municipal Administration Council, told the local newspaper Invasor.
Among those with the worst indicators are those related to commerce, which has lost 28 million, and food services, 24 million pesos. The food service sector suffers, as in the rest of the world, because of the restrictions related to the pandemic and its sales have fallen by 68.8% in its traditional services. But also sales have fallen 61.9% in food delivery and take away purchases, which were adopted to allow the viability of these companies and which, however, failed to break through.
Another negative indicator is that of the sales of basic foods, such as pork and sausages, which reached only 22.3% of the forecasts, and eggs, which reached only 16.7%. In addition, the authorities want to increase “territorial self-sufficiency” with the planting of products that are in short supply, such as cassava, bananas and taro.
Tobacco also fell dramatically, making 54% of the forecast, as did construction materials (54.3%), agricultural inputs (7.7%) and household supplies (17.1%).
Thus, of the 304 million pesos in commercial circulation originally foreseen, only 225 million were realized.
Local authorities have drawn attention to the importance of making decisions to improve production and savings, although nothing was put on the table to suggest that there will be a change in such a negative trend.
Obregón García explained that during the first four months of the year 193 fines related to non-compliance with the decrees that regulate prices and sanitary measures have been imposed in the amount of 1,075,000 pesos.
Decree 30, approved in December 2020, establishes sanctions that reach 3,000 pesos for those who fail to comply with the health regulations provided to reduce coronavirus infections. On the 31st, and published the same day, sellers were fined between 5,000 and 7,000 pesos for not displaying on a board the products and prices they offer; between 8,000 and 10,000 for “withholding, reserving, postponing or not putting products for retail sale on sale,” and up to between 12,000 and 15,000 if the seller does not comply with the measures ordered against “abusive prices” and “speculative prices.”
“Municipal economic development has a short, medium and long term strategy planned, a fact that will facilitate better planning and in-depth review of each measure implemented to ensure the redistribution of scarce available resources and meet priorities,” affirmed the mayor.
Ciego de Ávila’s numbers are not surprising. At the beginning of this year the Ceballos Agroindustrial Company, one of the few jewels in the crown of the Cuban State and the main industry in the territory, ended the month of January in the red. The industry, which produces canned food and sells mainly in national currency, suffered from the lack of packaging and the rise in raw material costs.
The news of Ceballos’ nosedive was published at the same time that President Miguel Díaz-Canel said that “the business system of the Food Industry needs a shake up, to take advantage of the 43 measures to strengthen the socialist state enterprise and get the maximum benefit from the Ordering Task*.”
“We can do more: more production, more efficiency, more offers, better designs, different ranges of products, greater optimization of processes,” concluded Díaz-Canel then, during the meeting to analyze the work of the Ministry of the Food Industry during 2020.
But the province’s performance suggests that the measures have not yet yielded the expected results.
*Translator’s note: The ‘Ordering Task’ [Tarea ordenamiento] is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others.
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