Fidel and Raul Castro
Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 28, 2010
Cuba: Government Describes Private Sector Expansion
On Sept. 24 Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), published an article describing policy changes intended to expand Cuba’s small private sector. The changes are part of a plan announced on Sept. 13 to lay off some half million public employees, about 10% of the total labor force, over the next six months; the government expects about 465,000 of the laid-off workers to move to the private sector or to form cooperatives, according to unofficial sources.
The plan is basically an expansion of the “self-employment” (TCP) policy instituted during the “special period” in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The government will now issue licenses for 178 job categories in the TCP–which includes small businesses in addition to actual self-employment. Most of these occupations were authorized in the 1990s, but some were closed off again in 2004, and there are currently just 143,000 licenses for TCP businesses, down from a high of 210,000 in 1995. Much of the work authorized under the new policy is currently done in the black market; the changes will bring these jobs into the tax and social security systems.
What is probably more important than the increased number of TCP occupations is the lifting of several restrictions on private activity. Some seem minor, such as raising the number of seats at family restaurants from 12 to 20, but others are substantive. A small business will no longer be limited to hiring workers who live with the owners or are family members, and businesses will be allowed to operate in more than one municipality. People will be able to rent out entire houses and apartments instead of just renting rooms in their own homes. Continue reading
[When “socialist” countries such as China, Vietnam, and Cuba have adopted “market socialism” and the privatization of state-owned production units, the social safety net guarantees of work, health, education, and housing have, step by step, been reduced or disappeared. Advocates of such changes use loaded terms like “bloated payrolls” to describe the safety nets being discarded–and such terms are used in this revealing Reuters article. The difficulties that arise from the new conditions place important challenges in the path of the people and revolutionaries, as they now confront “market”–i.e., capitalist–rules, officially expressed, though still wrapped in socialist terminology: “for the good of all.”-ed.]
Jul 20, 2010
HAVANA (Reuters) – “Cuba is moving up to a million employees, or a fifth of its workers, off bloated public payrolls and into jobs where they actually have to work,” according to Communist Party and government sources.
The goal is to boost the island’s struggling economy by targeting what President Raul Castro has called “unnecessary workers” in a five-year project to reorganize its labour force in tandem with some economic liberalization.
“We hope to eliminate 200,000 jobs per year, as much as 100,000 of them over the coming year in the capital alone,” a Communist Party economist said, like others asking that his name not be used. Continue reading