HAVANA – The Cuban government reduced from 6 to 2 percent the projected growth of the island’s Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, for this year, yet more bad economic news that authorities have given the country in recent weeks.
The announcement was made by Cabinet vice president and Economy Minister Marino Murillo during a meeting at which “exceptional measures” were announced starting June 1 to reduce energy consumption, the official daily Juventud Rebelde said Saturday.
“The global downturn affects the country’s export sectors and diminishes revenues from tourism, which leads to an estimated GDP performance above 2 percent but not the 6 percent we previously thought,” Murillo said.
Last December the Cuban Parliament approved an economic plan for 2009 with a 6-percent goal for growth, after the island’s economy grew 4.3 percent in 2008.
According to figures of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or Cepal, released last April, Cuba will have positive growth in 2009 equal or superior to 3 percent, as will Panama, Peru and Bolivia.
This week the island’s authorities and official media have launched a crusade to reduce electricity consumption, given the country’s grave economic and financial crisis.
Murillo said Friday that the state sector, which consumes more than half the electricity on the island, will have to reduce consumption by 12 percent, because the expenditure above and beyond what was planned has already cost some $90 million.
If that goal is not achieved, the economy minister announced that the government will have to resort to blackouts because the country cannot use more fuel for generating electricity.
Official news media have described as very serious the economic crisis and the lack of liquidity, to such a degree that the daily Granma, official organ of the ruling Communist Party, announced that the situation is one of “save or die,” a parody of ex-President Fidel Castro’s slogan “homeland or death.”
The deteriorating economic situation got worse over the last year due to repercussions from the world financial crisis, losses of $10,000 caused by three hurricanes in 2008, the drop in exports and the increasing cost of imported products.