Fines Skyrocket for “Speculative Prices” and for Violating Covid Rules

Line to buy sweet potatoes at the EJT [Youth Labor Army] market on 17 and K streets in El Vedado. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 3, 2021 — Fines of up to 15,000 pesos and the confiscation of their merchandise are the penalties to which merchants who violate the new rules on prices and rates published in the Gaceta Oficial Extraordinaria (Extraordinary Official Gazette) of last January 29 are exposed.

The decree-law establishes different penalties, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 pesos for not displaying on a board the products and prices they offer; from 8,000 to 10,000 for “retaining, reserving, delaying or not putting the products on sale that are destined for retail marketing,” or even from 12,000 to 15,000 if they don’t comply with the ordered measures, for which they consider the prices “abusive” and “speculative.”

The former are defined in the document as those “above a reasonable range, compared to similar products or within the same product family, and that seek to achieve a level of earnings or excessive profit”; and the latter, “the fixed products, mainly of basic need, superior to those established by the competent authority, linked to repurchase, resale or both, with the objective of obtaining profits.”

The measure is published amid a growing shortage in the country’s agricultural markets, where many products have disappeared from the pallets to plunge into the informal market. Beans, onions, fruits and foods such as yams or yucca are in short supply in state, cooperative, and private stores, while they have become a frequent offering on instant messaging threads, classified ads, and overseas shopping sites.

These provisions join those established in the same Gazette to punish those who fail to comply with health protocols, with sanctions between 2,000 and 3,000 pesos.

All this was brought up by the Havana authorities in their daily meeting on Tuesday, where they again asked for “promptness” in the delivery of the results of the PCR Covid tests that are carried out.

This Wednesday, the Cuban Ministry of Public Health reported 893 new positives for the coronavirus and two deaths from the disease. The total of active cases stands at 5,563; the total since the beginning of the pandemic, at 29,529; and 220 deaths.

Of the total number of daily infections, 34 had a source of infection from abroad, and 25, the official report indicates, are linked to international travel.

No less than 58 patients are in critical or serious condition, six of them under 60 years of age.

With more than half of the day’s infections (492), Havana continues to top the list of affected provinces. For the first time in recent weeks, Guantánamo (138) surpasses Santiago de Cuba (82) in daily infections and is in second place.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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