Agence France-Presse April 4, 2013 15:30
Cuba economic reforms moving 'at a good pace:' Castro
Reforms aimed at breathing new life into Cuba's decrepit Soviet-style
economy are advancing "at a good pace," President Raul Castro said
Thursday, dismissing calls for accelerated change.
Since sweeping economic reforms introduced in 2011 "we can see that
we've advanced at a good pace," according to the daily Granma.
The president said that "the magnitude and complexity" of Cuba's
problems "do now allow us to resolve them from one day to another," the
state newspaper said.
Castro urged Cubans to "resist pressure from those who insist that we
should move faster," although he added that the country is currently "at
a better moment" to push the economic reforms forward.
Castro, 81, took over from his ailing older brother Fidel in 2006 and
has gradually been overhauling island's antiquated Soviet-style economy.
Measures include trimming state payrolls and allowing more types of
self-employment, handing over unused land to farmers, and allowing
private ownership of things like homes, cars, mobile phones and computers.
His goal is to liberalize Cuba's economy and encourage more private
entrepreneurship, but at the same time maintain a key role for the Cuban
state through joint ventures.
The reforms are also aimed at trimming back the bloated public sector.
The government still controls 90 percent of the economy and is by far
the main source of jobs on the island.
Castro said the reform blueprint "has helped us work with more order and
He called on his ministers to "think and re-think everything we do,
periodically check each measure to correct possible mistakes," and urged
them and not to stop "despite obstacles that may emerge."
In its 2014 economy plan and budget, the Cuban government hopes to
increase exports and cut back on imports.
Desperately needed foreign currency comes from tourism, the sale of
medicine, and exports of nickel and sugar.