Year-End Accounts / Fernando Damaso #Cuba

Photo: Peter Deel

The year 2012 is coming to an end and it’s a good time to review the successes and failures, with the objective of starting the new year with less baggage. For many citizens it’s a reality that, during the intervening months, there have been changes that have affected the inert skeleton (it’s all that remains) of the Cuban model. They have not been very deep, are too slow, and have not influenced the country’s economic structure, which remains intact in its obsolete socialist conception, but that’s another matter.

In the year that’s ending, the so-called guidelines were also approved, which are more a guide to developing a retaining wall, which establish limits to the changes, and which have expanded the possibilities within the framework of allocating land in usufruct (bowing to pressure from the peasants who rejected the initial straitjacket). Self-employment rules have been relaxed, expanding its spheres of action, they have tried to bring order to physical planning, and have conceded aid (in extreme cases) and credits for the repair of dilapidated housing, have established new customs rules, and have adopted a new travel and immigration law and a new tax system.

This does not mean that all these questions are on the way to being resolved or that existing problems have been solved. Even the land in usufruct has many weaknesses, and does not meet the needs and expectations of private producers, being subject to absurd regulations and restrictions that conspire against production, distribution and marketing, and that don’t increase the offerings available nor reduce the prices paid by consumers.

The new possibilities within self-employment are approved by drips and drabs and only after long periods of unnecessary experimentation in the so-called provincial-laboratories (Artemisa and Mayabeque), when they should be adopted and spread more quickly

The physical planning regulations, forgotten and systematically violated over too many years, are very difficult to apply in a country where the deterioration and lack of housing constitutes a national tragedy, without conditions to truly solve things in the short and medium term, despite the aid and credits approved, and so the problem continually worsens, influencing widespread social breakdown.

The new customs rules, which by their volume seem to expand the possibilities of bringing goods into the country, actually limit them by weight and value.

The new travel and immigration law, to go into effect in the coming year, although it eases some of the paperwork, creates new limitations and trades the existence of one document for another (from the white card to the blue booklet), without eliminating them, as well as increases the price of a passport.

The new laws on taxation, also scheduled to go into effect, with some adjustments, this coming year, are still a mystery to be clarified as they are applied.

The state of the accounts can be summarized in a general conclusion: the skeleton of the model has started to move, but the movement is unbearably slow and cautious, and is not in line with the needs of the citizens and the country.

November 28 2012