14ymedio, Havana, 12 January 2022 — The best example of the disaster in the economy of Ciego de Ávila is the sugar harvest, which did its part for what is already recognized as “the worst result in more than a century at the national level,” worst than the previous year. The provincial industry barely accomplished 11% of the forecasts, that is, a total of 200,000 tons of sugarcane remained uncollected.
This is one example of the many catastrophic data that characterized the economy of that territory during the past year and that this Wednesday is summarized in the newspaper Invasor, which promises a next installment in which they will tell about all the good that “was done.”
On the list of bad economic indicators is that 30% of state companies in Ciego de Ávila, a total of 23, have losses. In addition, income barely reached 23.6% of the forecast, 2,971 million pesos, and retail trade, due to its enormous shortage, remains at 77.2% of the forecast.
Ileana Venegas, director of Economy and Provincial Planning, attributed the poor general situation in the first place to the usual reasons, the US sanctions and the pandemic. And then to external and internal causes. As for the former, she made reference to the shortage of wholesale markets, which occurred in good part, she argues, due to the increase in import prices and the problems of international maritime transport.
With regard to Cuba, she mentioned the ’Ordering Task’*, the “partial dollarization of the economy in relations between companies and of these with the non-state sector,” and the mismanagement of the measures approved for the socialist state enterprise; but in no case did she develop these ideas.
The official also stressed that they are maintaining salary concepts based on productivity that are not sustained, since the latter did not reach 80% of what was expected but the payments were made at 86%, an imbalance that does not contribute to balancing the accounts.
In the chapter on exports the sugar harvest once again plays a leading role due to another fatal fact – Ciego only reached 28.8% of the global sales plan for this product. At the same time, one of the most demanded items from Cuba in recent times appears: charcoal made from the marabou weed. Delays in international maritime transfers caused this natural fuel to be stranded in containers in the Mariel Special Development Zone, resulting in the failure to export 13,300 tons.
The investments did not go well either. The forecast was 5,000 million pesos, but only 62%, 3,100 million, has been executed, according to already consolidated data from the Directorate of Economy and Planning itself. Azcuba and the ministries of Agriculture, Tourism, Energy and Mines, and Transportation were the ones that were most responsible for this breach.
The deputy director of Economy and Provincial Planning, Yens Toledano Padrón, explained that most of the investment has not been executed due to personnel problems, due to the many on sick leave caused by the pandemic, but also to the lack of financing and resources .
“Despite these results, it is necessary to recognize the effort made, in the midst of confronting the epidemiological situation, to have made progress in various activities,” said Ileana Venegas, mentioning among them the approval of 26 MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises), whose performance has not yet been measured, nor their work in the neighborhoods and with the vulnerable, which the majority of citizens do not value, judging by the palpable social discontent throughout the Island.
*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which 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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