Cuban ‘cuentapropistas’ use ingenuity to persevere in Sancti Spiritus
Socialist state continues to adjust to ‘cuentapropismo’
Author: Hatzel Vela, Reporter, hvela@Local10.com
Andrea Torres, Local10.com Reporter, email@example.com
Published On: Nov 10 2015 12:03:34 AM EST Updated On: Nov 11 2015
10:35:30 PM EST
SANCTI SPIRITUS, Cuba –
Andres Valdes, who has daughter living in Hialeah, said he has been
cutting the hair of residents of the city of Sancti Spiritus for about
Valdes works at a family-run barber shop. But before he ran a business
as a “cuentapropista,” a Cuban who is self-employed, he was a Communist
government paid hairstylist.
Fidel Castro referred to the tourism industry as a “necessary evil.” Now
under Cuban President Raul Castro’s reforms, the service industry now
has more licensed freelancers. They are allowed to create a service
price list, hire workers and get small government loans from the Banco
Popular de Ahorro (BPA).
“I think we have had good results with this,” Valdes said in Spanish.
The majority of legalized businesses are not designed to generate wealth
in a cash-poor market. The focus of the low-skilled ventures is on
survival. Although a fortune teller and a clown can run their own
business, there is still no room in Cuba for innovation. The government
still controls the high-skilled jobs.
Without wholesale markets, it’s not easy to have competitive prices or
have access to supplies. Now some fear an increase in government taxes
on personal income is looming. In October, government officials told
Cuban media that they were notifying some 820 “cuentapropistas” in
Sancti Spiritus that their taxes were going to increase in January.
At the province of Sancti Spiritus, the government reported there were
some 20,380 registered “cuentapropistas” who paid 63,271,800 Cuban pesos
($2.38 million) last year, according to the Escambray, a government
newspaper. The sector was growing, as the BPA had provided 268 loans as
of July, according to Radio Sancti Spiritus, government media.
The Oficina Nacional de la Administracion Tributaria (ONAT) oversees
the payments. The agency warns on their site: From Jan. 7 to April 30,
taxes on personal earnings must be paid. Those who pay before Feb. 28
will get a 5 percent discount at the time of payment.
The fees are different for “cuentrapropistas” who work in the
transportation or restaurant industries. Since 2013, taxi drivers, known
as “boteros,” must be registered with an agency and pay taxes on their
personal income with the ONAT. And according to a government chart,
the tax could range from $13 to $76 a month.
Despite the evolution of the “cuentrapropista,” as in most worldwide
economies, there remains an unregulated sector that includes seasonal
farm workers, artists and spiritual advisers. Government workers often
have underground side jobs or businesses due to their low income.
At Valdes’ barber shop, near the doorway, Carlos Suarez is hard at work.
He is fixing and refilling used lighters. Most Cubans can’t afford to
toss out their lighters and buy news ones, so he has been able to make a
living this way for decades.
Suarez charges between 7 to 8 cents to repair a lighter and makes about
$4 a day. He will not be affected by the tax increase, allegedly
designed to target those with higher incomes.
Source: Cuban ‘cuentapropistas’ use ingenuity to persevere in Sancti
Spiritus | Cuba Coast to Coast – Home –