HAVANA,July 18th (ACN) Cuban President Raul Castro said on Friday in Havana that the country will continue developing the self-employment sector and experiment with non-agricultural and animal cooperatives.
During the closing of the plenary session of the Cuban Parliament, Castro told the deputies of the National Assembly that stigmas or prejudice will not be allowed towards the non-state sector. He also stressed that it is indispensable to respect laws, consolidate what has been developed, and fight against any illegalities in the new forms of management.
The Cuban president highlighted the positive aspects of the self-employed sector, which already comprises over half a million people, while non-agricultural and animal cooperatives amount to over 400,000, allowing the implementation and diversification of goods and services with acceptable quality levels.
However, Castro also condemned what he described as disorderliness in the non-state sector and the illicit use of raw materials and equipment, not paying taxes, along with insufficient state control at all levels.
He noted that at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers measures were approved and would be implemented to correct these shortcomings.
Castro pointed to an encouraging 1.1 percent growth in Cuba’s gross domestic product in the first half of this year but warned of financial tensions as well as fuel availability.
Among the most tangible results were the free education and health services and the improvement of the domestic monetary balance expressed in the prices of the products in the retailer store chain.
He said, though, that Cuba still has not been able to keep current with payments to suppliers, although committing the country to honour its past due accounts.
“This situation forces us to continue adopting the necessary measures to protect export earnings, guarantee food for the population and services, with the rational and efficient use of the available resources,” he said.
During another part of his speech, Castro also referred to the change of US policy towards Cuba announced by President Donald Trump last June 16, which “means a setback in bilateral relations”.
He noted that the US administration had decided to reinforce the trade embargo through the imposition of new obstacles for its business sector to trade or invest in Cuba, as well as additional restrictions for US citizens to travel to the island, justifying these new measures “with an old and hostile rhetoric, typical of the Cold War”.
He stressed that Trump does not realize the support of a broad sector of US society and the majority of Cuban émigrés in the country that are in favour of lifting the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba and normalising ties with the island while the US president is only satisfying a reduced group of Cuban American voters in Florida.
“We reject the manipulation of the issue of human rights on Cuba. We are proud of our achievements and Cuba does not receive lessons from the US, or anyone else,” he said.
Castro reiterated that the island will continue dialogue and cooperation, in addition to negotiations on pending bilateral issues with the United States on the bases of equality and respect to Cuba’s sovereignty and independence.
“Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live side by side respecting each other’s differences and promote what is beneficial to both peoples,” he said.