Informacion economica sobre Cuba

1 March 2011 Last updated at 10:33 GMT

Cuba's Raul Castro admits mass lay-offs behind schedule

Cuba's plans to lay off half a million state workers by the end of March
are behind schedule, President Raul Castro has acknowledged.

Mr Castro, quoted by state television, said the timetable for the cuts
would be altered to soften their impact.

The redundancies form part of plans to revive Cuba's struggling economy,
an issue due to be discussed at a rare Communist Party Congress in April.

The Cuban government currently employs about 85% of the official workforce.

President Castro, addressing a joint meeting of his cabinet and the
Council of State, said given the lay-offs were behind schedule, the
timeline would be adjusted, state television reported.

"A job of this magnitude which will affect so many citizens in one way
or another cannot be marked by inflexible timetables," the report quoted
him as saying.

President Castro did not give a new target date for the planned
redundancies, saying only that the overhaul of the economy would take at
least five years.

He again insisted that the reforms would "leave nobody behind".

Last September, Mr Castro announced plans to lay off about a million
state employees – about a fifth of the workforce – with half the jobs
going by 31 March.

This would have been just three weeks before the first congress of the
ruling Communist Party in 14 years.

Thousands of committees have been set up across the island to decide
which jobs to eliminate and discuss the planned changes to the economy.
Eddy Cantallos attends to customers after receiving his new license to
sell goods in front of a home in the El Cerro neighbourhood in Havana in
January 2011 Thousands of Cubans have applied for licences to run their
own businesses

According to state TV, the economy minister, Marino Murillo, said some
seven million Cubans had taken part in a total of nearly 130,000 such

But resistance among those supposed to implementing the cuts has clearly
had an effect.

BBC Mundo's Cuba correspondent Fernando Ravsberg says a major weakness
of the reforms is that those supposed to be implementing them have most
to lose in terms of economic interests and privileges.

As well as lay-offs, the Cuban government has been taking steps to ease
some restrictions on private enterprise, allowing Cubans to apply for
licences to run their own businesses, rent out rooms and in some case
hire workers.

President Castro has said that the reforms are vital to overhauling the
economy, which is burdened by debt and costly social programmes, as well
as the effects of the long-standing US trade embargo.

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