HAVANA, Aug 25th Sales of goods and services by small and medium-sized private companies in Cuba tripled in the first half of 2023 compared to
the same period of the previous year, reported this Friday the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei).
However, the total volume of invoicing of these new economic actors -which have been operating for two years in the socialist country- accounted for just over 4% of the total sales of goods and services in the first six months of the year in Cuba. The rest were state entities.
According to the Onei report “Sale of retail goods and services. January-June 2023”, in the first semester goods and services were sold on the island for a value of 132,575 million Cuban pesos (at the official exchange rate, 5,524 million dollars), 26% more than in the same period of the previous year.
Of this total, the state sector billed 127,135 million pesos (95.90%) and the private sector, 5,439 million pesos (4.10%).
Sales of goods reached 57,599 million pesos, 14.4% more, and those of services rose 23.7%, to 45,700 million pesos. Gastronomy, for its part, rebounded by 63.5%, to 29,275 million pesos.
State companies, a priority for the Cuban government, sold 22.9% more than in the comparison period; while private micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) increased their turnover by 206.8%, partly due to the approval in recent months of hundreds of new ones.
The behavior of gastronomic services stands out in the Onei statistics, which increased their sales substantially in the year-on-year comparison. State ones in 51.6% and non-state ones in 615.8%.
Gastronomy accounted for almost half of the turnover of non-state MSMEs in that period (49.69%), compared to the 20.90% share it occupies in the public sector. Overall, it represents just over 22%.
In the state sector, the main item of sales is taken by retail trade (43.45%), followed by Services (34.47%) and finally Gastronomy (22.08%).
On the contrary, in the non-state sector, the billing share of gastronomy is 49.69%, compared to 45.06% of Retail Trade and 5.25% of Services, such as basic supplies, communications, and transportation, which by law is provided almost exclusively by the State.
Private MSMEs, which began to emerge in the fall of 2021 after a reform in the midst of a crisis that ended a 55-year ban, are the subject of controversy in Cuba. Currently, there are about 8,000.
Some applaud that they have contributed to partially alleviate the severe shortage of basic products that the country has suffered for more than two years and embody the beginning of an economic opening in Cuba.
Among the main critics are the pro-government sectors that blame them for fueling the strong inflation that afflicts the economy, as well as the dissident voices that assure that these new actors are controlled by the country’s political and military elite and do not represent a real change.