14ymedio, Havana, 3 November 2017 – As of this coming Monday, the prices for agricultural products will be capped in Cienfuegos province “temporarily,” by decision of the Council of Provincial Administration (CAP) in response to the need for a “sensible reduction” of prices after the passage of Hurricane Irma, reports the local press.
The regulations “are supported, legally and institutionally, by two resolutions of the Ministry of Finance and Prices” that allow the CAP to regulate the amounts of these products in case of disasters or emergencies, Raúl González Quintana, secretary of the agency, explained at a press conference.
The price caps apply to the State Agricultural Markets (MAE), the points of sale of the Cooperatives of Agricultural Production (CPA) and the Cooperatives of Credits and Services (CSS), and also to the stalls of the so-called “organopónicos” belonging to Urban and Suburban Agriculture.
Street vendors (carters), together with supply and demand markets, managed by private producers and their intermediaries, will also have to comply with the new maximum prices for products, which range from fruits and vegetables to processed meats.
González Quintana said that meetings are being held in the municipalities of Cienfuegos with more than 800 vendors from the non-state sector who offer their merchandise in the province to inform them of CAP’s decision and “the social impact” of this measure.
The price list will have to be visible in each market. The violations of these rates will be penalized with fines of up to 1,500 pesos and, in cases of greater severity, the license to sell will be withdrawn.
Last week the government imposed price controls in the agricultural sector in Villa Clara, another of the provinces affected by Hurricane Irma, to curb what it called “the unjustified increase” in the cost of food.
Since the end of last year, the imposition of price caps has spread from the province of Artemisa to reach all the municipalities of Havana. Most consumers celebrate the lower prices but regret the fall in quality and supply after the imposition of maximum prices in the markets.
The capped prices have also encouraged an increase in the sale of agricultural products on the black market, an increasingly common practice on the island’s roads, where unlicensed merchants offer products that are hard to find in markets, such as onions, garlic, beans or pork.
The measure, which put producers and intermediaries on alert, was taken after a session of the National Assembly held in December 2016, in which the issue of the price of food led many discussions. In response to the demands of several deputies, Raul Castro said that measures would be taken to bring prices closer to wages.