Cuba to trim bureaucracy
Cuba's agriculture ministry will cut thousands of bureaucratic jobs and
reorganise its large state-run farms into smaller plots in a bid to
reverse steadily declining food output, official media said.
Communist Party newspaper Granma said that 89,000 employees at state
farms, or 26% of their work force, are office workers and that the
sector suffers from an "excess of unproductive personnel."
It said at least 10% of those jobs will be eliminated starting in
December with the aim of "reducing bosses and functionaries and
substituting departments with specialists and technicians on the farms."
Granma said the sector's workforce is being reorganized into "worker
collectives" of no more than 10 individuals who will be assigned
specific plots of land, or fincas, for which they will be responsible.
Their pay will be based on performance, Granma said.
The changes are the latest by President Raul Castro as he wrestles with
ways to increase agricultural production and, in turn, reduce food
imports that are draining Cuba's coffers. Cuba imports between 60% and
70% of its food.
Soon after Raul Castro took over the presidency from ailing brother
Fidel Castro last year, he decentralized agriculture decision-making,
increased prices paid for produce and launched a massive land-lease
program to put more land in private hands.
Nevertheless, agricultural production was down 7.4 percent this year
through September compared to the same period in 2008. Much of the
decline was blamed on damage to banana plantations by hurricanes last year.
Cuba is currently undergoing a financial crisis that has forced drastic
reductions in imports and state budgets, and created the need for the
latest changes, Granma said.
"The urgency of reducing imports and increasing food production has
accelerated solutions to this old problem that creates bureaucracy,
increases costs, hampers production, creates disorder and limits worker
earnings," it said.
Pilot programs have shown that bureaucracy can be cut at least in half
without difficulties, the newspaper said.
At one state farm in Havana province, it said the number of supervisors
was reduced from 91 to 15 and the land divided into 130 fincas, with led
to greater diversification of products.
International agriculture analyst Jerry Hagelberg said it remains to be
seen if the reorganization will boost food output.
"Time will tell whether this measure will be much more successful than
previous failed attempts to raise efficiency, as long as these farms
continue to be run by the state, the marketing of farm products remains
controlled by the state, and Cuban agriculture does not get the
necessary capital and production inputs," he said.
Cuba had around 250,000 family farms and 1,100 private cooperatives
before the land-lease program began, which together produced around 70%
of the country's produce on less than one-third of the land.
Cuba to reorganise state farms, trim bureaucracy | WORLD News (11