The Government Extends the Import of Generators From Cuba Until December 2023

Despite the high prices, these devices are not a luxury on the Island because of the constant blackouts. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 31 March 2023 — The Cuban authorities have extended until December 31, 2023 the permit for the non-commercial import of generators of more than 900 watts. In the run-up to the hottest months of the year, the measure — approved in August 2022 and reactivated last December — tries to guard against a summer of new blackouts and the usual breakdown of the National Electricity System (SEN) in the face of high demand for electricity.

The extension was announced this Thursday in an extraordinary edition of the Official Gazette, through a resolution of the Ministry of Finance and Prices. The sections of the document recall that this government agency is authorized to reauthorize the measure as many times as it deems necessary, and considers that the acquisition of the generators has brought notable “benefits for the residential sector,” in the face of the “contingencies” that have affected the SEN.

Initially approved after the energy debacle that the Island suffered during the summer of 2022, the measure expired in December of that year. However, the authorities extended the deadline for three months, until March, and this Thursday it was decided to extend it for another nine months.

Since last August, Cubans have taken advantage of this law to import generators of more than 900 watts, although the increase in the number of these devices has not meant a total solution to the energy problem. The lack of fuel, indispensable for the operation of the generators, and the strict control and registration that the Government maintains for the owners, have hindered their role in Cuban houses.

The rule, which promised a “special treatment” for equipment importers, was the continuation of a set of measures approved in July 2022, in order to make the non-profit import of several items more flexible. The inventory ranged from cell phones and computers to appliances, sporting goods and spare parts for cars.

At that time, the import of generators of up to 900 watts was also authorized for a price of 200 dollars, from 900 to 1,500 watts for 500 dollars, and more than 1,500 watts for 950 dollars. However, the authorities understood that the document underestimated the price of the devices and, therefore, attributed an erroneous number that affected the possibility of import. In the US market — where most of them are usually bought — the cost of a generator of more than 900 watts not only exceeded 200 dollars but could reach 500 dollars for each unit.

“When assessing the effects on the residential sector that still persist, as a result of the energy deficit caused by the breakdowns in the national electroenergy system, it is necessary to authorize, on a temporary basis, the import of generators with a power of more than 900 watts,” they agreed.

There was no shortage of complaints and comments about the opportunism of the measure. On the other hand, the noise of the machinery during the nights of blackout also caused discomfort in the neighbors of the “lucky” owners.

The dissatisfaction increased after the announcement that the generators had to be registered in the local service stations as a condition to be able to buy 2.6 gallons of gasoline to jump-start the equipment.

The owners of the generators faced new difficulties due to the need to “register” them, a requirement that also raised suspicions. The Government, said several users on social networks, also intended to carry out a strict “census” of the equipment and its owners, noting their identity card and the serial number of the machine.

As if that were not enough, the lines of customers in front of the service stations and the usual shortage of fuel were other obstacles to achieving the efficiency of the generators during a situation that the authorities had to qualify as “the worst in the history” of the SEN.

Miguel Díaz-Canel’s promise that the blackouts would stop by the end of the year was fulfilled for only a few weeks. At the beginning of this year, Vicente de la O Levy, Minister of Energy and Mines, anticipated that the blackouts would return, although initially he assured that they would be for only a couple of hours. A few weeks later he extended the period to 3 or 4 hours that, in practice, have been exceeded in some areas. Not to mention that half of the Island has already experienced four serious energy collapses in just three months.

The extension approved this Thursday will also reactivate the market for generators in the United States, where Cubans living in Florida will try, once again, to get their relatives on the Island a generator for the long nights of blackout that, according to the Government itself, are far from being an outdated reality.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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