Cuba: “autonomy” planned for state firms

On Nov. 9 the Cuban Communist Party released a draft economic program for discussion in preparation for the party’s Sixth Congress in mid-April 2011. The 32-page “Draft Economic-Social Policy Guidelines” is the latest move in plans by President Raúl Castro for a major restructuring of the Cuban economy, following the announcement in September of a program to lay off some 500,000 workers and absorb most of them in an expansion of private enterprises.

The document consists of 291 brief proposals. The most important change appears to be the introduction of relative autonomy for a number of state-owned enterprises. These are to set their own wage and employment policies and control their own resources and investments; at the same time, they will no longer be able to count on subsidies from the national budget. Other significant changes include “applying flexible formulas for the exchange, purchase, sale and renting of housing”; allowing some cooperatives to join together to form larger associations; and the creation of “special development zones” for exports and for high technology–apparently meaning industrial parks such as those already growing near modernized ports like Mariel in the northwest and Cienfuegos in the south.

The document insists that “in the new forms of non-state management, the concentration of property in juridical or natural persons will not be allowed”; presumably this bars ownership by corporations or individuals. The draft program also affirms that “the system of socialist planning will continue to be the main way” of managing the economy. (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 10, from correspondent; Prensa Latina (English), Nov. 10)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 14.

See our last post on Cuba.