Monday, August 1st 2011 – 06:19 UTC
All small retail outlets to be "privatized" by next October announced Cuba
Cuba will broaden private retail service beyond beauty parlours and
barbers in October to include everything from coffee shops to
locksmiths, and may even rent space on busy streets, an official told
Even street spaces could be leased out to vendors Even street spaces
could be leased out to vendors
The measures, which take effect in October, are yet another step in
President Raúl Castro's plan to get the state out of administering
thousands of small businesses by turning them over to employees to
compete with a growing private sector.
A Communist Party daily Granma report cited the testimony of Internal
Trade Minister Mary Blanca Ortega before parliament's Economic Affairs
"The leasing of barbershops and beauty parlours will be generalized
across the country and this system will be broadened to all other
services (on an experimental basis) beginning in October," the newspaper
Soon after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution all businesses down to shoe
shining were taken over by the state, but since the former leader handed
power to his brother, the policy has been openly criticized as a mistake.
Cubans have long complained of dismal state services, from cafeterias
and domestic appliance repair to the building trades and fixing personal
items, where they say theft of resources and poor quality are the rule.
The government, which has monopolized economic activity for decades,
turned over some 1,500 state barbershops and beauty parlours to
employees last year. The former state employees, who used to make less
than 20 dollars per month and charge clients a state-set price, now pay
a monthly fee for the shop, purchase most of the supplies, pay taxes and
charge what the market will bear.
The new services will include coffee and snack shops, small cafeterias,
appliance repair, locksmiths and watch and shoe repair, according to
Granma also quoted Deputy Labour Minister Jose Barreiro as saying the
government was identifying underutilized commercial space on main
avenues for possible use by entrepreneurs.
The government late last year dramatically loosened regulations on
individuals working for themselves and opening businesses in retail
services where they compete with the state.
Deputy Labour Minister Jose Barreiro said more than 325,000 worked in
the "self employed" sector as of July, compared with 150,000 in 2009,
offering food services, merchandise repair, transportation and other