14ymedio, Havana, 4 August 2023 — The authorities of Ciego de Ávila found it inexplicable, during an economic meeting this week, that there is a deficit in the production of bananas, sweet potatoes, rice, vegetables, milk and beef in the province, while the data guarantee that sales were outstanding. The numbers “deserve a thorough review to elucidate where the figures are inflated, whether in the reserves or in the prices,” they said, to which the official press replied: “One might wonder how they achieved it.”
These are, according to Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, “mirages” that do not indicate recovery but, rather, show the lack of control caused by inflation in the country and its reflection on paper. “The crisis continues,” he explained.
The leaders, who evaluated the economic results of the province during the first half of 2023, agree that the outlook is alarming: a productive decrease of 20%, considerable losses in almost all sectors and serious levels of administrative corruption, with 37 officials sanctioned in the area of Commerce and Gastronomy alone.
In apparent contrast, other recorded data reveal 10.2% of overcompliance in the net sales plan of the province and 29.1% in the retail trade circulation plan. The paradox is that production does not support these figures.
Eight state companies reported losses worth 134 million pesos during the month of July, while another 33 did not comply with their plans. Three sugar plants in Chambas also failed, with five million pesos lost. Most of these entities with production deficits – the same ones that claimed to over-fulfill in terms of sales – are linked to food processing.
“That way there can be no growth,” lamented the secretary of the provincial Communist Party, Liván Izquierdo, who also commented that the entire production of the semester is below that of the same period in 2022.
The answer may be in the state corruption rates of the province, where 89 crimes were identified after audits of several entities. The economic damage exceeds three million pesos. For its part, Commerce and Gastronomy is the sector that continues to stand out for its “weaknesses”: 3.3 million pesos stolen and 37 officials punished for “administrative lack of control, with clear indications of intentionality, which caused a lack of products and cash by not making correct deposits.”
The situation of livestock does not give rise to optimism either. To fulfill the plan, it would be necessary to have 150 head of cattle “which, right now, are not grazing in the pastures.” In an endless chain of failures, the ranchers of the province defended themselves: the pastures need fences, but the Agricultural Supply Company – which has also “operated at a loss for years” – informed them that “it has no wire.”
Only in the export plan do the figures tell the truth; however, only 65% of what was planned was accomplished, and the semester ends with owing the state almost two million dollars. To alleviate the losses, the authorities recommended “exploiting” the Jardines del Rey airport and the ports of Palo Alto – out of service for four years – and Casasa. In other years, they claimed, local fruits were sent to Canada, and now the “experience” can be repeated.
The star category of the province continues to be the export of pink shrimp, which this year was 94 tons. However, the authorities warned, the shrimp won’t arrive on the dinner tables of the people who live there.
At the end of the meeting, the leaders discussed the registration throughout the province of more than 6,000 illegalities related to construction. They “eradicated” about 1,360 in the city of Ciego de Ávila alone, they said, linked to the lack of construction permits, the transformation of facades, the potholes in the streets, the occupation of public spaces and the establishment of llega y pon [shack] neighborhoods in the provincial capital and in Morón.
In the province, the difference between state and private companies is accentuated, which provoked a tirade from the deputy governor of the province, Hiorvanys Espinosa, during a meeting with the Provincial Recreation Commission. “We cannot allow the state sector to be robbed of more prominence in the scenarios that we must ensure. In the case of the head municipality, the nights in Ciego de Ávila are dead, and we have left them to the self-employed and the private bars,” he said.
The leaders anticipate that state recreation spaces will soon benefit from a flood of national customers. The explanation? A package of activities “that really move the community,” with a launch date for this coming August 13, the “birthday of Commander Fidel Castro.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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