HAVANA – The Cuban government announced on Tuesday new regulations to stimulate the private sector, which could signify a move toward a freer economy after decades of crisis.
The government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel will apply a package of 20 measures to “perfect self-employment and its control system,” which will take effect next Dec. 7, according to a special report repeated by all state media.
This will have the double function of continuing to stimulate the private sector so that it contributes more to the public coffers, while clamping down on illegalities like the use of “materials of illicit origin,” tax evasion and fraud.
Under the command of then-President Raul Castro, the government in 2010 expanded private business in a limited number of sectors, but in August 2017 suspended the awarding of licenses.
This will be resumed in December, according to the new reforms.
The news has been well received by the growing number of Cubans looking for a chance to do business in the private sector after years of rigid state control under the communist system imposed following the 1959 revolution.
“I’m operating without a license and therefore get paid less and I’m risking legal problems – so I’m going to apply for one as soon as I can,” EFE was told by Yessdy M., who switched from working for a state bank to repairing computers – and earns three times as much.
The number of self-employed in Cuba rose in May to 591,456, according to official data, a big jump from the 157,531 in the year 2010. This sector now makes up 12 percent of the workforce.
Most private businesses concentrate on transport, housing rentals and the preparation of food and meals, in part to serve the more than 4 million tourists who visit Cuba every year.