Cuba’s Official Press Criticizes the Managers Who Squander the State’s Money

The Deputy Prime Minister of Cuba, Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, during a visit in 2017 to the steel company Acinox, one of those mentioned by the local press. (ACN)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 March 2023 — Of the 63 Cuban state companies that operate in the province of Las Tunas, 25 received million-peso payments from the Government without any productive support. The fact, which the local press unequivocally described as a “scam,” addressed the total expenditure of 29,924,000 pesos [$1,246,830] in January alone and motivated a meeting of local leaders, but the analysis was “not at all rigorous” considering the seriousness of the crime.

It’s not the first time that the province “bleeds” the allocated budget, details the official newspaper Periódico 26. In 2022, the numbers were similar, and the managers of the companies did not have to answer for the contrast between investment and results.

The list of non-compliances is long and involves the most important companies in Las Tunas. Although the newspaper does not provide the production data, it does reveal the amount that each one received. The Poultry Company received 3,551,000 pesos [$147,958]; the Pharmacy and Optics Company, 3,394,800 [$141,450]; the Construction and Assembly Company, 2,534,700 [$105,613]; and the Acinox steel company, which presents itself as “the leading company in Cuba in world exports of products offered by the metal industries,” 2,363,800 [$98,429].

Other companies that paid the salaries of their workers with hardly any profits in January were the Agroforestry, Twisted Tobacco, Acopio, the Wholesaler of Food, Raw Materials, Duralmet and even the Electric Company of Las Tunas. In addition, each of the Commerce companies – and several sugar and agricultural companies – are in the same situation in the municipalities of Manatí, Jesús Menéndez and Amancio.

The worst, complains the report, is not the waste of public money, but the inaction of the directors and their provincial and national supervisors. “Anyone without the required responsibility can make an improper payment of that magnitude, but he immediately has to answer for it,” the newspaper says. However, the reality is different: “The directors of those entities still do not respond with the rigor that the matter entails.”

The newspaper asks that those responsible be “prosecuted by the competent courts” for squandering the state budget. However, there does not seem to be any will either in the provincial government or in the “cores” that the Communist Party maintains within each company.

“Literally it is not happening,” says Periódico 26, arguing that paying million-peso amounts to unproductive companies is a violation of Resolution 6/2016, the enforcement of the forms of payment in the state sector.

“No control,” “lack of demand” and scams by the boards of directors are some of the characteristics that the report attributes to business management in Las Tunas. “It’s true that there are companies that for various reasons have seen their management limited and their workforce decreasing production, which sometimes becomes almost zero, but it is necessary to find formulas to reorient the work and find other options that sustain wages. And that is rarely done,” it admits.

Without mentioning at any time the US embargo — the preferred excuse of the Cuban media and leaders to justify their inefficiency — the article defines a clear cause for the loss of the almost 30 million pesos destined for Las Tunas in January, but it does not dare to call it by its name: the corruption of businessmen and their impunity before state supervisors.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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