Explainer: The state of Raul Castro’s financial reforms in Cuba

HAVANA (Reuters) – President Raul Castro’s efforts to modernize Cuba’s Soviet-style centrally deliberate economic system have borne combined outcomes, with some initiatives transferring ahead, others stalled and nonetheless others both scuttled or but to start.

Cuba’s President Raul Castro addresses the viewers throughout a ceremony the place he embellished leaders of the Cuban revolution with the honorary title of Hero of Labour of the Republic of Cuba, on the Capitol in Havana, Cuba February 24, 2018. Omara Garcia Mederos/ACN/Handout through REUTERS

The trouble can finest be seen as constructing on coverage adjustments Cuba initiated after the autumn of the Soviet Union, for instance permitting overseas funding and a few mom-and-pop companies.

Late former President Fidel Castro termed these adjustments “concessions to the enemy” whereas Raul Castro has solid them in a extra optimistic mild and mentioned they’re an indispensable a part of Cuba’s future.

The ruling Communist Get together says the method has been more durable than anticipated and many of the reforms, which have been first adopted at a Get together congress in 2011 after which ratified in 2016, are nonetheless a piece in progress.

A few of the adjustments which can be underneath manner, for instance the event of a non-public sector, have been topic to fixed tinkering and rising complaints about each rising social inequality and tighter regulation.

Whereas the 2011 reform plan prohibited the buildup of personal property, the 2016 model added a ban on “accumulation of wealth.”

Following are highlights of an important financial adjustments so far:


The federal government started leasing fallow state-owned land to potential farmers in 2008. Since then the size, measurement and phrases of leases have improved, though farmers should conform to domesticate sure crops or elevate livestock on the market to the state.

At the moment 151,000 individuals maintain leases masking 1.2 million hectares (three million acres) of land, much like 5 years in the past.

A sweeping agriculture reform started in 2010 and included loosening laws on farmers to favor market forces and costs. The market reforms have been reversed and the state dominated system restored in 2015 on the grounds that hypothesis was inflating costs.


Laws round small companies have been liberalized in 2010 as a part of an effort to chop bloated state payrolls. Entrepreneurs have been nonetheless categorized as self-employed fairly than as enterprise homeowners, nevertheless they have been licensed for the primary time since 1968 to rent non-family labor.

Concurrently the state started shedding small service shops akin to barber outlets and snack outlets in favor of preparations the place workers would lease the premises. A pilot program authorizing non-agricultural cooperatives started in 2013.

There are 580,000 self-employed license holders, together with cab drivers, tradesmen and the workers of 1000’s of personal eateries, mattress and breakfasts, and development contractors. The non-public sector consists of 429 cooperatives, a lot of them former state institutions.


The federal government started reorganizing and merging 1000’s of firms in 2011, even because it moved them out of the direct management of presidency ministries. The federal government aimed to make the businesses extra autonomous and aggressive and mentioned it could regulate and tax companies, not handle them.

There have been quite a few changes to laws aimed toward giving the businesses, which account for some 70 p.c of Cuba’s financial exercise, extra authority over day-to-day operations, in addition to how they deal with extra manufacturing after assembly their manufacturing quotas and after-tax revenue.

Nonetheless, the federal government nonetheless workout routines strict management by way of levers akin to centralized planning and a monopoly on overseas commerce.


The federal government licensed the shopping for and promoting of houses and vehicles in 2011 after a ban courting from quickly after the 1959 revolution. House owners have been additionally licensed to lease their premises. Nonetheless, residents stay restricted to possession of 1 residence and a trip residence and the sale of recent vehicles, that are all imported, stays in state palms at a mark-up of on common 800 p.c of the manufacturing unit worth.


In 2012 Cuba adopted its first complete tax code since all private taxes have been abolished after the revolution. Levies on earnings, property, inheritance, and fallow farmland have been amongst these included, along with numerous contributions and costs, for instance to social safety.

The taxes are being step by step carried out. The vast majority of state employees nonetheless don’t pay earnings tax. The self-employed, farmers and employees making greater than 2,500 pesos per 30 days, the equal of simply over $100 and 3 times the typical wage, do.


A brand new overseas funding regulation in 2014 opened up many of the economic system, minimize taxes by round 50 p.c and supplied higher flexibility when it comes to majority possession by overseas buyers in ventures partnering with the state, in contrast with a earlier regulation adopted within the 1990s.

In 2017 the nation signed new ventures valued at greater than $2 billion, round twice the quantity signed throughout any earlier yr.

A China-style particular improvement zone additionally opened at Mariel, simply west of Havana, with additional tax and customs breaks and the place most initiatives are totally owned by buyers.

Reporting by Marc Frank; Modifying by Frances Kerry

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