Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 08.02.12

Cuba still searching for economic model that works

At annual conference on Cuba's economy, experts discuss current state of

reforms, future prospects and look for similarities in other countries.

One possibility: Vietnam.

By Juan O. Tamayo And Mimi Whitefield

jtamayo@elnuevoherald.com

Cuba faces a difficult economic situation despite Raúl Castro's reforms,

and a military-led economic transition appears more likely than a

Vietnamese or Chinese model of change, Cuba analysts said Thursday.

"The reforms haven't provided results. There are too many limitations …

there's an enormous stagnation in society," said dissident Havana

economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe in a speech recorded for the opening

session of the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the

Cuban Economy.

Some 100 economists, social scientists, and other Cuba experts gathered

at The Hilton Miami Downtown hotel to present their work on the policy

challenges facing Cuba. This year's topic: Where is Cuba going?

Cuba's situation is "very delicate and difficult," Chepe said. Among the

problems he cited in Cuba's plan to move massive numbers of state

employees into self-employment is the lack of materials they need to run

their businesses and the competition this creates with the rest of the

population trying to make purchases for daily living.

Joaquin Pujol, a retired International Monetary Fund economist, said

that very few of the people who have joined the ranks of the

self-employed were really working for the government before. Most, he

said, were unemployed, already working for themselves under the table,

were retired or are students.

Vegard Bye, a Cuba expert at the Norwegian Institute of International

Affairs, said Vietnam more than China is a model for the Castro

government as it pushes toward a more market-oriented economy, although

Cuba is unique in many ways.

"Cuba is different from everybody," he said, adding that it will be

difficult for island leaders to copy anyone else's economic model during

a transition.

Cuba, for example, hasn't done as well as China or Vietnam in recruiting

new generations of leaders and managers, Bye said, and as it reforms the

economy, it is less likely to be able to maintain political controls as

easily as Vietnam has done.

Bye noted that the thrust of Castro's recent visit to China, Vietnam and

Russia seems to be an effort to figure out how a market economy can be

implemented and institutionalized without losing political control.

He said that the Cuban military and former military officers who have

had vast experience in managing a large majority of the island's

state-owned enterprises are likely to have a strong voice in the

island's economic future.

Cuba, Bye said, essentially faces two scenarios: a Vietnam-like shift

toward a more market-oriented economy with space for small- and

medium-sized private businesses but with the government clearly in

political control or the perhaps more likely "authoritarian militarized

transition" in which military technocrats take control through cronyism

and corruption.

"I hope for No. 1, but the tendency is very much toward the second one,"

Bye noted.

He pointed out that in the economic transitions in Russia and Eastern

Europe, three-quarters of the current economic leaders were previous

party leaders during the Communist regime. In Russia particularly, he

said, the old party chiefs became the owners of formerly public

property, while in the other countries the trend has been for them to

form the new managerial class.

In Cuba there is a "strong tradition for small-scale capitalism," said

Pujol. But he said, "There is no way the Cuban economy can recover

without strong foreign investment."

Several analysts said they thought Cuban membership in international

financial institutions could aid in its transition.

"Cuba needs foreign direct investment" and membership in international

financial institutions "is vital for Cuba eventually," said Richard

Feinberg, a professor of international political economy at the

University of California, San Diego. Feinberg has laid out a strategy

for Cuba's reconnection with international financial institutions such

as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"Membership [in the IMF] does not require you be a liberal democracy,"

he said. "A lot of strange governments and rogue governments are in the

IMF and the World Bank."

But one big problem is that a country must express a desire to join the

IMF, and at this point Cuba, which left the fund in 1964, hasn't shown

interest in applying, said Lorenzo Perez, who retired from the IMF after

a 30-year career. Cuba would also need a sponsor. Countries such as

Brazil and China that are friendly with Cuba might be willing to fulfill

the role, he said, although at this point they might have to bring Cuba

"kicking and screaming into the IMF."

While IMF membership wouldn't immediately promote democracy in Cuba,

Perez said it could promote political reform in the longer term by

forcing Cuba to adopt a more rational economy policy and by encouraging

policy transparency and government accountability.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/02/v-fullstory/2928266/cuba-still-searching-for-economic.html


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