Cuba’s Self-Employed Enter the Tourism Industry
October 17, 2013
Private Restaurants Authorized to Sell Rum and Cocktails
By Cafe Fuerte
HAVANA TIMES — Last week, the Cuban government formally announced that
tourism companies and agencies will now be authorized to enter into
contracts directly with private businesses licensed to operate
accommodations, restaurants and other establishments.
The measure, which had been advanced by the Ministry of Tourism last
April, became legally effective through Resolution 145/2013, published
in Cuba’s Official Gazette on September 24.
The announcement is being made on the eve of Cuba’s high tourism season,
as part of an initiative aimed at increasing the number of visitors to
the island beyond the figure of three million. In this connection, the
private sector is being called on to complement State activities aimed
at attracting tourism to the country.
Payments in Cuban Convertible Pesos
The new legislation makes it possible for those who rent out their homes
and rooms, the owners of cafeterias and restaurants, the self-employed
who offer tours on horse-driven coaches and vintage automobiles and
those who organize excursions around the country to enter into contracts
with State travel agencies and to thus offer their services directly to
Payments shall be made in hard currency (Cuban Convertible Pesos, CUCs)
or their equivalent in regular Cuban pesos (CUP). The CUC is worth just
over a US dollar. These payments shall always be effected through the
established financial mechanisms, chiefly bank transfers, excluding
cash. According to the resolution, the self-employed must have a bank
account in CUCs to enter into these contracts.
The contracts must be approved by the Ministry of Tourism at the
pertinent level, in consideration of the amount being negotiated.
Contracts for services of up to 1,000 CUC will be approved by local
company branches and those for more than 1,000 CUC at the national
level. Those contracts whose value exceeds that of 4,000 CUC shall
require the approval of the central branch and government budgetary
According to official statistics, Cuba currently has over 1,700
privately-run restaurants, some 4,280 rooms for rent and over 700 homes
licensed to lodge tourists.
Bricklayers and Carpenters Needed
Over 436,342 licenses for private businesses have been issued around the
country, chiefly in the food preparation and transportation sectors.
The new legislation will allow entities attached to the Ministry of
Tourism to hire the self-employed (and to pay these workers in CUC) in
28 different service sectors approved by the government, including
bricklayers, carpenters, locksmiths, glaziers, electricians, plumbers,
kitchen and mattress repair people, upholsterers and furniture painters,
pitmen, roofers and maintenance personnel.
In connection with the hiring of these services, State companies
offering camping locations and services for the population shall be
entitled to pay only in Cuban pesos.
Entities in the tourism sector that continue to offer lunch services to
their employees at State cafeterias will be authorized to hire private
caterers and to pay for these services in CUC, provided such expenses
have been approved in the company budget.
The legislation establishes that travel agency officials must visit
private restaurants and cafeterias in order to inspect them and
determine whether their food services meets quality standards before
entering into the said contracts.
Rum, Cigarettes and Cigars
Cuba’s Official Gazette also published another legislative reform
authorizing broader private services, the Ministry of Trade’s Resolution
305/2013, authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and
cigars at private restaurants and cafeterias.
The legislation was signed this past October 1 and took immediate effect.
The published document acknowledges that “the quality of the services
offered by cafeterias authorized to sell rum had been undermined by
excluding other alcoholic beverages from the list of permitted drinks.”
“The norms currently governing the management of self-employed
businesses that rent out locales for food and related services must be
brought up to date,” the new regulations state, which seeks to adjust
the existing legislation to the country’s current economic conditions.
In addition to beer, private restaurants and cafeterias will now be
authorized to offer other alcoholic beverages, such as cocktails, rum,
wine and liquor.
Source: “Cuba’s Self-Employed Enter the Tourism Industry – Havana
Times.org” – http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=99445