FURTHER UPDATE ON SELF EMPLOYMENT

27 03 2011

 

Supergordi hamburger stall

Earlier this month I reported that between October 2010 and the end of January 2011, a total of 113,618 new people had been authorised to become self-employed, compared to the total of 157,371 that existed at the end of 2010, representing an increase of 72% in the number of those working for themselves.

Juventud Rebelde reported on 20th March that the figure of new authorisations at 11th March was 171,000, an increase of 108%, more than double the original figure. Even if my assessment is correct that a majority of these are formerly unlicensed businesses becoming legal, it still represents a significant increase in those operating in the private sector. It is certainly a big new source of taxation income for the Cuban Government, which is struggling with a financial deficit.

Cuban President Raul Castro told the National Assembly last December: “…if we have arrived at the conclusion that the exercise of self-employment constitutes an alternative form of employment for those of working age, with the result of elevating the offer of goods and services to the population and liberating the state from these activities in order to concentrate on what is truly decisive, what the Party and Government must do in the first place is to facilitate their development and not to generate stigmas or prejudices towards them, nor much less to demonise them, and for this it is fundamental to modify the negative perception that more than a few of us have towards this form of private work.” (my translation)

This represents a major change of approach and seems to be generating a significant alteration in the balance between state and private sector. It is one that I welcome and believe is long overdue. Although I am in favour of state ownership of major industries, I believe that the state should concentrate on what Lenin referred to as “the commanding heights of the economy”, those sectors that are strategically important. In my opinion, it makes no sense and is inefficient for the state to be running cafes and  restaurants, hairdresser shops, taxi cabs or takeaway food stands.

I previously reported that I had personally seen four new paladares (private restaurants) in Santiago de Cuba. That has now risen to seven, an increase of 350% on what existed in the third quarter of last year. I’m sure that there are more and will be many more to come.

One new enterprise that has opened, around the corner from my apartment here, is a hamburger stall, named Supergordi. The house speciality and dearest item on the menu (at 25 CUP – less than £0.75) is a Supergordi, a hamburger on a bun, served with ham, bacon, thick slices of cheese, lettuce and tomato. In the interests of research, I tried one and can personally report that they are very good. If anybody is in the vicinity of Calle 10, Reparto Santa Barbara, Santiago de Cuba and is hungry, I recommend that they try one.

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7 11 2011
The low Cuban workplace productivity – 4 thoughts « octobersunincuba

[…] its mind to economic change and (some) renewal. A joker has blogged about the changes here and here if you are interested. I have been told that Cuba workplace productivity in Cuba is fairly […]

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