Havana Cuba. – What happened in one of the recent sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power, when the Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, attacked the import work of micro, small and medium-sized companies (MSMEs) is proof that the cordial relations that seemed to exist between the Government and these forms of non-state management were pure facade.
Castroism wanted to pretend, by increasing the number of MSMEs in the country, that the economic opening was going full steam ahead. However, reality indicates that the quantitative effect is in no way related to the benefit that these entities could bring to society if the regime allowed them to unfold their full potential.
It is almost certain that Minister Gil, a faithful defender of the import substitution policy, does not like the fact that non-state forms of management are importing much more than what they are exporting. While imports of it are around 270 million dollars, exports only reach four million.
After affirming that in the imports of MSMEs, final goods predominate and not inputs and raw materials, the high-ranking Castro official he pointed that “this is a sector that is integrated into the national economy for its development, and in which the present distortions must be deepened and corrected.”
Here it should be clarified that many of the private MSMEs on the Island -there are many more private ones than state ones- were cafeterias and other service-providing businesses that belonged to self-employed workers, and that they were forced to become MSMEs when they had with more than three hired workers.
So it doesn’t make sense to make these businesses import inputs and raw materials to produce, instead of continuing to purchase final goods (beers, malts, soft drinks), which was what they sold before becoming MSMEs.
It was not clarified how the authorities are going to act to correct what Mr. Gil described as “the present distortions.” What is clear is that any measure that the governments adopt against MSMEs or any other non-state actor (non-agricultural cooperatives and self-employed workers) will result in the reduction of the autonomy that these entities need to carry out their work with efficiency.
This determination of the governing leadership to force MSMEs to import what is convenient for the Government is added to the initial provision that obliges non-state actors to carry out foreign trade activities through a state company belonging to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment. As we can see, Castroism resists losing, even in the slightest, the control it exercises over the national economy.
Curiously, this statement by Minister Alejandro Gil about the “present distortions” in the work of MSMEs almost coincided in time with the visit made to Cuba by Mr. Josep BorrellHigh Representative of the European Union for Foreign Relations.
The European official praised the increase in the number of non-state businesses on the island, particularly MSMEs, and hinted that these businesses were key to the further development of the Cuban economy.
We do not know if Mr. Borrell was able to learn of Minister Gil’s statements about the importing work of MSMEs. If he had found out about it, perhaps his share of optimism would not be the same.
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