Cuba Gov. Shuts Down Accounting Cooperative

Part of the Scenius board of directors in happier times. Foto/archivo: oncubamagazine.com

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities have ordered the Scenius cooperative, which is dedicated to providing accounting services and is the most important in the country in its field, to close down. It has been accused of unspecified “serious and repeated violations,” dpa reported.

The Ministry of Finance and Prices claimed that the cooperative was carrying out work that didn’t appear in their company mission, something which Scenius has denied.

“They are accusing us of providing services which we aren’t authorized to, and it isn’t like that, there are legal provisions that back our work,” Alfonso Larrea, the commercial director at Scenius, told dpa.

The measure against Scenius comes after Cuban authorities put a freeze on issuing new licenses for most private workers and businesses.

Scenius was created in 2015 as an initiative by three associates and a start-up capital that didn’t even reach 300 USD. In just two years, it has managed to grow to over 200 cooperative associates and has invoiced services worth over two million USD, making it the most important cooperative in the country.

Its services are focused on accounting recording, inventory controls, tax advice or the assessment of company finances.

Today, it has more than 150 clients, mainly state companies from sectors such as industry, communications and agriculture.

The ministerial resolution forces Scenius to communicate the cessation of its services to clients within a maximum of 30 days, to finish these services and to begin the liquidation process of the cooperative.

“We believe in justice for our country, that’s why we are going to begin a legal complaint process,” Larrea said to dpa.

Cuban authorities have stated that the measures they have taken in recent weeks with regard to the private sector don’t mean taking a step back in opening up the national economy. Nonetheless, the reaction both nationally and internationally has been just the opposite.

“I don’t believe this is a curb on the reforms process, but a restructuring, President Raul Castro himself has said that there needs to be different forms of business management in the country,” Larrea claimed.

Five years ago, the Cuban government legalized non-agricultural cooperatives, within the legal and economic reforms initiated. Scenius was one of the more successful ones.

  • Michael Ritchie

    I believe that this move, together with the halting of issuing new licenses for cuenta propistas, is an effort by Castro government to curb outside (U.S.) investment in Cuban private enterprise– which has been happening. There are a lot of U.S. citizens who would like to make investments in Cuba, including myself.
    I think limiting those investments is wise, really. We don’t want a repeat of Batista’s America.
    As far as Scenius is concerned, they should have been more circumspect (read devious) with their financial income statements.
    “More than $2 million USD” is certainly a glaring “accumulation of wealth.” No wonder the government jumped on them.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      That is your personal view Michael as a US citizen. I too would dislike intensely an endeavour by the US and its citizens, to repeat its errors of the past in Cuba. That ‘relationship has resulted in too many problems for both countries and is a stain on US history.
      However, my interpretation of the decision differs from yours. I look at it from the Cuban regime’s perspective. It is now approaching four years since Raul Castro decided to switch some 500,000 people from working for the State to entering the private sector. By so doing, he was opening the door of individual thinking and action which runs counter to communist ‘philosophy’. He subsequently endeavored to put restrictions upon the growth of any individual business by for example, limiting the number of people that could be employed in any business. But Scenius circumvented that restriction by forming a cooperative.
      Fidel and Raul Castro were both supporters of the Russian (Stalinist) form of communism. Fidel openly criticized the adoption of a capitalist system by both Vietnam and China. Raul is on the horns of a dilemma. Does he continue to endeavor to somehow make private enterprise (ie: capitalisim) conform to communist beliefs, or does he allow the inevitable growth of successful endeavours. All of us in the capitalist world, know that an individual business either grows or declines, it cannot stand still. Even although Scenius as a cooperative reinvested its profits in growth, its ‘crime’ was its success and that which you Michael described as “the accumulation of wealth.” In communist philosphy, only the ‘State’ should have wealth. The forced demise of Scenius is a mark of its commercial success.
      It is the same philosophy that has led to the decline of production in Cuba, particularly in agriculture. “The economy of a country is its production.”

      • N.J. Marti

        Agreed, fear drove the decision. But today’s announcement that restrictions on new business won’t last a sign that the regime knows how poorly these actions are being received. Raul may not want to go the way of China and Vietnam, but the people are ready for a change from failed policies of the past.