Cuba resolves not to get more loans than it can payback

The Mast, By Larry Moonze on December 15, 2018. CUBAN President Miguel Diaz-Canel says the economy must be the priority task given the impact it has on people’s wellbeing. And the government has premised its 2019 economic plan on, “the basic premises of not taking on more debt than we are capable of repaying.”

During a Council of Ministers meeting, President Diaz-Canel reminded his Cabinet not to assume commitments the government was not able to honour on time. “The Revolution’s main task continues to be the economic battle given the impact it has on the Cuban people’s wellbeing,” he said, according to the Granma. “We must be more rigorous in our planning, which means reinforcing bodies charged with responsibility for economic affairs at all levels. It is imperative to create strong work teams to propose solutions and study alternatives. We must take advantage of the talent of academics and researchers in the area of economics and consider the proposals they make.”

President Díaz-Canel stressed the role of state enterprises and their harmonious relations with the non-state sector, which he defined as complementary to the economy and needs to be provided a legal framework. He reiterated the relevance of concepts emphasized by the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee’s First Secretary Raúl Castro Ruz, about “not spending more than we have as income, and not assuming commitments that we are not able to honour on time.”

And economy minister Alejandro Gil Fernández said, as of the close of 2018, estimates indicate that the Cuban economy experienced slight growth. He told the meeting that commerce, telecommunications, manufacturing, public health, and social services were among the best performing sectors, while others such as the sugar industry, agriculture, construction, and mining did not meet projections.

“The economic situation this year has been determined by a tense financial situation, affected by shortfalls in export revenue from activities such as tourism, sugar production, and medical services, linked in many cases to the effects of extreme weather events,” Gil Fernández said. “Added to this is an adverse international context, marked by the tightening of the blockade, in particular heightened financial persecution as a result of the setback in relations between Cuba and the United States. Amidst these tensions, the Cuban economy did not contract, and, for example, the housing construction plan was met with more than 29,000 dwellings completed as the year ends, as a result of both government programmes and individual efforts by the population.”

He said the communication services, including cellular phone lines and internet access increased. Gil Fernández said for 2019, “a realistic, achievable plan, has been developed that guarantees development and growth, strengthening the utilisation of internal reserves,” with a focus on support for prioritised services for the population, maintaining supplies of basic products, and a greater variety of product lines in retail stores. “Increasing income from exports and strengthening domestic industry are a priority, with a view toward replacing imports of finished goods via the importing of intermediate resources, supplies, and materials to take better advantage of the country’s internal capacity,” he said.

Gil Fernández said another front of prioritised attention was strict adherence to investment project plans and timelines, to guarantee that financial resources were recuperated and projected benefits obtained, as soon as possible. “The proposed 2019 Economic Plan ensures the availability of resources aimed at increasing production and development programmes in sectors such as energy, tourism, industry, and agriculture,” said Gil Fernández. “Next year’s plan reflects the basic premises of not taking on more debt than we are capable of repaying; assuring gross domestic product growth; and moving forward with development efforts.”