Informacion economica sobre Cuba

It Won't be Easy for Cubans to Buy or Sell Houses / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Regina Anavy

A few days ago, the newspaper Granma announced that by the end of 2011,
Cubans would be able to buy and sell homes. Despite the buzz caused by
the news – according to the announcement, the steps for conveying
property legally would be more flexible – many people still have misgivings.

According to the newspaper, "the payment of the price agreed upon
between the parties will be made through a bank branch."

"I don't like that. It seems strange that they're now making it so
easy," says Manolo, 40, who works filling cigarette lighters. He
distrusts the requirement to open a cash account at least for the buyer,
and adds: "What worries me the most is having to justify the money."

The government only recognizes as legitimate income from employment,
remittances and inheritances. "How do I show the money my brother sends
me through 'mules' or one of those private agencies that are not
recognized by the government?" asks Manolo.

Indeed, for those who can't certify the legality of their inflows of
money, there is the risk of being prosecuted administratively for unjust
enrichment, because the state can presume that the deposits are the
result of theft, diversion of state resources or activities on the black

In these cases, they confiscate homes, cars, bank accounts, etc.,
acquired over a period of time that may be prior to when the inherited
wealth was verified, which allegedly enriched the individual and the
close relatives who can't justify the legal origin of their goods.

Moreover, taxes are also on the list of concerns of those who are
obliged to create a bank account to buy a home. The seller must pay
personal income tax, while the buyer has to pay for the transfer of

And the tax rates make people uneasy. On the black market, real estate
is priced in convertible pesos. The price of a stone house with a room,
kitchen and bathroom, located on the outskirts, can run between 5,000
and 6,000 dollars in hard currency. In local currency, by which taxes
are calculated, it would be between 125,000 and 150,000 Cuban thousand

The more anxious analyze the situation by comparing it to the taxes on
private businesses. "If someone who by the sweat of his work makes more
than 50,000 pesos has to pay a 50 percent income tax, can you imagine
how much it will be for selling a house?" commented the clerk at a
privately-owned cafe.

The transaction, undoubtedly, will eliminate tax evasion, but not fraud
in the affidavits. It appears that the relaxation of bureaucratic
regulations in the sale of housing will not eliminate "the
manifestations of illegality and corruption," as Granma says. And the
government waits.

Translated by Regina Anavy

August 4 2011

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August 2011
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