Government Announces Reduction In Basic Good Prices as of Friday / 14ymedio

A shop with goods for sale in convertible peso (hard currency), Havana. (EFE)
A shop with goods for sale in convertible peso (hard currency), Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 April 2016 — The Cuban government has announced a reduction in prices of food and other basic products sold in stores in Cuba convertible pesos (CUC) and Cuban pesos (CUP). The measure, which comes at a time of growing popular discontent over the rising cost of living and shortages, takes effect Friday in the state retail sales network.

A note read on Cuban TV primetime news on Thursday, announced that sales of products such as toilet paper, milk, soap, peas, toothpaste, chicken, corned beef, cookies, instant soft drinks and seasonings, will range from 20 centavos to 2 Cuban convertible pesos.

The move comes a few days after the conclusion of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party and seek to gradually increase the purchasing power of the Cuban peso in the short term, said the official note.

The text clarifies that the price cuts respond to the Central Report of the party conclave where Raul Castro reiterated that “wages and pensions are still insufficient to meet the basic needs of the Cuban family.”

The regulations provide for a decrease of 6% in the retail price of chicken sold in boxes using a single price in the so-called Hard Currency Collection Stores (TRD) managed by the Ministry of Domestic Trade (MINCIN). The product will experience a drop from 7 to 5 CUC per kilogram.

The so-called “cold light” fluorescent lightbulbs, will also benefit from a 40% discount, dropping from 1.00 CUC to 0.60 CUC while the popular floor mops for household cleaning, will cost 20 cents less.

Among the products most in demand that will have a new price is cooking oil, which will drop from 2.40 CUC a liter to 1.95 CUC.

Among the main complaints of the Cuban population are the high prices that do not correspond to salaries. As reported in the last session of the National Assembly, which met last December, the average monthly wage in the country was 640 pesos, the equivalent of $26 (US) or 26 CUC.

The digital site CiberCuba published the list of prices that will be effective this Friday which appears under the logo of the Ministry of Finance and Prices, although the official announcement said that the list will only see the light this Friday.

The announcement includes the price controls that have been implemented at a growing number of agricultural markets since the beginning of the year. A measure that has not managed to reduce popular discontent.

From the early hours of Thursday afternoon the rumor had spread through Havana’s neighborhoods and customers delayed their purchases to benefit from cheaper food which comes into effect tomorrow.

However, the “definitive” solution to the “complex reality” of prices will only be achieved with “increased productivity and efficiency” in the national economy, explains the official note.