Cuba legalizes small and medium-sized businesses

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Havana (AFP)

On Friday night, the Cuban government ratified a decree-law authorizing the operation of private and state small and medium-sized businesses, a measure geared toward economic reforms in the socialist state, in which public corporation prevails.

“The State Council approved the Decree-Law on Small and Medium Enterprises, which facilitates their inclusion in a coherent manner in the legal system as an actor affecting the productive transformation of the country,” a note on the page stated. Website of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba.

The decision, long awaited by Cuban businessmen, comes nearly a month after unprecedented demonstrations erupted on July 11 and 12, chanting “We are hungry” and “Freedom” in more than 40 cities on the island, leaving dead and dozens injured. . Hundreds were arrested.

“For the Cuban economy, not only in the economic sphere, but also in the historical sphere, this represents a giant step that will have consequences in the medium and long term” to reshape the national economy, O’Neill Diaz, consultant, told AFP specializing in business development and communications and public affairs in Cuba.

In a regular session of the State Council, in which President Miguel Diaz-Canel participated via video link, other measures aimed at developing non-agricultural cooperatives and self-employed or self-employed workers were approved.

– ‘A very important moment’ –

The assembly decided that small and medium businesses could be government, private or mixed and that small businesses could have from one to 10 employees, small businesses from 11 to 35 people and averaged up to 100 workers.

A Cuban unloads a load of bananas to sell in Havana, July 15, 2021. YAMIL LAG FB

Last February, the government expanded more than 2,000 activities in which freelance workers can work in Cuba’s controlled economy.

The government indicated in June that some activities authorized for independent workers would not be included in the SME list, such as “computer programmers, bookkeepers, translators and interpreters, pet or pet vets, designers and certain types of consultancy”. pointed out.

Although that will be determined in the regulations which should be published soon.

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said last June that the expansion of activities by private actors “does not lead to a privatization process, as there are limits that cannot be crossed.”

For O’Neill Diaz, this is “a very important moment in which many entrepreneurs from the private sector have spent years striving, working and trying to contribute to the national debate.”

The government has recognized that small businesses are already operating on the island in a “disguised” fashion, but the legal framework can generate greater interest in these businesses.

For the US business community, the Díaz-Canel government has made an “important decision that may re-evaluate business interests” on the island, the Cuban-US Economic and Trade Council said last June when the Cuban government announced it would regulate small and medium-sized businesses.

Cuba is accelerating its reforms, while facing a deep economic crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the tourism sector, the engine of its economy, and in the midst of an economic embargo imposed by the United States that has tightened under the governments of Donald Trump and Joe. Biden.

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