Thursday, September 21, 2023
HomeEconomyCuban economy minister says no quick fix to devastating crisis

Cuban economy minister says no quick fix to devastating crisis

Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s economy is growing at less than 2 percent this year, still 8 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels, while production in sectors such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing lags further behind, Economy Minister Alejandro Gill said on Saturday.

Gill, speaking in the country’s parliament, said the primary sector, which includes agriculture, mining and other essential production, fell by 34.9% compared to , while manufacturing closed by %. The third sector, which includes services such as tourism, communications and education, fell 4.9 percent.

Cuba is heavily dependent on food, fuel and other imports, and its export revenues, which are necessary to buy imports, are largely attributable to U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic for a decline of more than 50%, while also acknowledging that the communist country’s market-oriented reforms have progressed too slowly.

Gill said year-to-date export revenue of $1.3 billion and 34 .7% imports of $4.4 billion were also well below the Cuban government’s expectations.

The minister said inflation had soared to 34 percent this year, following a rise of 34 percent last year, a figure that many economists said underestimated inflation because it did not take adequate account of the growing informal market due to scarcity.

Cuba has adopted tighter price controls to slow inflation, but has so far had little effect, while acknowledging that other factors are pushing up prices, such as low productivity and output.

“We cannot have effective price controls without supply and production,” Esteban Lazo Hernandez, speaker of Cuba’s parliament, told a conference earlier this week.

Gill said the crisis, which had residents shocked, protesting and leaving the island nation, was “complex”, but added that the government was working on solutions.

“The gradual recovery of the Cuban economy has not yet reached the necessary speed,” he said. “Growth this year is very slow at 1.8%, and it’s asymmetrical. In other words, growth won’t happen in the production sector.”

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