Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Raul's Cuba tweaks housing, wage rules
Posted on Sat, Apr. 12, 2008
By WILL WEISSERT
Associated Press Writer

A woman stands at the entrance of her house in Havana, Friday, March 21,
2008. Cuba on Friday authorized government employees to keep
state-controlled houses and apartments after leaving their jobs and to
bequeath them to relatives, allowing thousands to own their own homes
for the first time and potentially laying the groundwork for major
housing reform.
Javier Galeano / AP Photo
A woman stands at the entrance of her house in Havana, Friday, March 21,
2008. Cuba on Friday authorized government employees to keep
state-controlled houses and apartments after leaving their jobs and to
bequeath them to relatives, allowing thousands to own their own homes
for the first time and potentially laying the groundwork for major
housing reform.

HAVANA —
Thousands of Cubans will be able to get title to state-owned homes under
regulations published Friday – a step that might lay the groundwork for
broader housing reform.

The measure was the first legal decree formally published since Raul
Castro succeeded his brother Fidel as president in February. It comes a
day after state television said the government also will do away with
wage limits, allowing state employees to earn as much they can as an
incentive to productivity.

Together, housing and wage restrictions have been among the things that
bother Cubans the most about their socialist system.

The housing decree spells out rules to let Cubans renting from their
state employers keep their apartment or house after leaving their posts.
They could gain title and even pass it on to their children or relatives.

Thousands of Cubans could take advantage of this move, including
military families, sugar workers, construction workers, teachers and
doctors.

Holding onto state housing originally designated for specific workers
has been a widespread but usually informal fact of Cuban life. A 1987
law had foreseen transferring such housing to occupants, but this new
measure should clarify their legal status.

"This is like no man's land that they are legalizing," said Oscar
Espinosa Chepe, a state-trained economist who became a critic of the
government. "It gets rid of that insecurity many people had and
alleviates bureaucratic pressure."

By law, Cubans still cannot sell their homes to anyone but the
government, though they can swap housing with government approval – a
process that can take years to complete.

Two officials at Cuba's National Housing Institute said Friday's law was
likely the first in a series of housing reforms. Both asked not to be
named, however, because they were not authorized to speak to foreign
media. They said "thousands and thousands" of Cubans would be affected,
but did not give exact figures.

Espinosa Chepe, who was jailed for his political views during a 2004
crackdown but subsequently released on medical parole, said that "giving
people deeds could give them more freedom to sell their homes and maybe
rent them as long as they pay taxes."

Home to 11.2 million people, Cuba suffers from a severe housing
shortage. Officials say they need half a million additional homes.
Critics claim the need is twice that.

The housing law was published a day after a commentator on state
television said the government also will do away with wage limits,
allowing state employees to earn as much they can as an incentive to be
more productive. Economic commentator Ariel Terrero said a resolution
approved in February but not yet published will remove the salary caps
designed to promote social and economic equality.

"For the first time, it is clearly and precisely stated that a salary
does not have a limit, that the roof of a salary depends on
productivity," Terrero said.

Interviewed Friday night at the closing ceremonies of a forum opposing
free-trade agreements, Raymundo Navarro, national secretary of Cuba's
central workers union, called doing away with salary limits a "step the
Cuban government has taken to conform to the conditions of today" and an
"acknowledgment that one is not paid collectively, but paid for what one
produces."

"Salaries in Cuba for workers have deteriorated a lot," he told The
Associated Press. "This resolution tries to reorganize salaries to
stimulate workers based on the principle of socialism, each according to
his contribution to production."

The government controls more than 90 percent of the economy, and while
most Cubans get free education, health care and heavily subsidized food
rations, the average salary is just US$19.50 (euro12) a month.

An end to wage caps could one day lead to a true middle class, since it
would potentially allow Cubans to openly accumulate wealth. But it
defies the notion of an egalitarian society that Cuba has worked for
decades to construct.

Since becoming Cuba's first new president in 49 years, Raul Castro has
done away with bans that prohibited Cubans from owning cell phones in
their own names, staying in tourist hotels and buying DVD players,
computers and coveted kitchen appliances.

He also has acknowledged that state salaries are too small to live on,
and pledged steady improvements.

http://www.miamiherald.com/889/story/492506.html


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