Self-Employment in Cuba Advances at a Turtle’s Pace

January 10, 2017 |

Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES – The number of self-employed workers has reached 535,000 in a country of 11.2 million and its growth is so slow that it would take 20 years more to reach the figure of one million, necessary to deflate the padded staff of state enterprises and improve the salaries of those that remain.

The number of autonomous workers will hardly grow if all the restrictions on non-state forms of work aren’t relaxed, allowing cooperatives, small and medium-sized companies, and above all to expand the variety of jobs that people can legally dedicate themselves to.

To exclude private work to the country’s million university graduates is to push this sector to emigration as the only way to improve their income, which is exactly what’s happening. Thus, the nation is spending enormous resources on training professionals to contribute their knowledge in other countries.

Without growth in private employment, unproductive government run businesses will not be able to be closed down, nor reduce the bureaucratic-state apparatus. Likewise, it won’t be possible to improve wages in key sectors or invest the scarce resources in areas that bring benefits to the national economy.

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  • Griffin

    The cautious economic reforms introduced by Raul are too little. Will it also be too late? Unless some dramatic steps are taken to liberate Cuban entrepreneurs, it will. The young and productive are still leaving, in ever larger numbers.

    The Cuban economy shrank by 0.9% by official reports & it was probably worse than that in reality. The population is declining. Emigration is increasing. Infrastructure is degrading. Investment is far too low. The income Cuba got from Venezuela and Brazil is drying up. The increase in tourism from the US was not enough to keep the economy growing last year. What are the chances President Trump will offer Raul a better deal than President Obama tried to offer?

    Unless the Cuban government can give young people good reasons to have hope and faith in their future in Cuba, the Cuban nation and the Castro regime is doomed to collapse. They don’t have 20 years to make it right.