Cuba to resume taxing imported food
Updated: 2012-06-02 16:20
HAVANA – Cuba would soon reimpose taxes on imported food after four
years of exemption, the country's customs office said on Friday.
The new regulation would come into effect on June 18, the General
Customs Office said in a statement.
Imported food had been taxed since 1979, but the levy was suspended in
2008 as an "exceptional" measure after Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma
caused billions of dollars in losses to the Caribbean nation.
Cuba spends about $2 billion every year importing food, accounting for
80 percent of food consumption in the country, and the cost has been
rising due to increasing prices in international markets.
In the past four years, Cubans living in the United States and visiting
the island frequently have benefited most from the exemption.
It also greatly benefited the owners of restaurants and coffee shops
spreading throughout the island as a result of the economic changes
promoted by President Raul Castro, experts said.
According to official figures, 1,618 private restaurants have opened in
Cuba since October 2010, when Castro reopened the door to "self-employment".
Castro is currently developing a program to stimulate agricultural
production in the country, including the distribution of about 1.4
million hectares of land to more than 160,000 farmers and granting
credits to farmers to buy agricultural machinery.