Updating of Cuban
economic model continues to advance
Yaima Puig Meneses &
Leticia Martínez Hernández
THE Council of Ministers, in a
September 21 meeting presided by President Raúl
Castro Ruz, approved a group of policies which
respond to various Economic and Social Policy
Development Guidelines of the Communist Party and
the Revolution, thus continuing to move forward with
the updating of Cuba’s economic model.
of Ministers Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge
presented the National Medications Program, which he
recalled has been revised and renovated on several
occasions over the last few years, although its
fundamental purpose has been maintained: to
guarantee the people’s health and limit the effects
of the economic blockade imposed by the United
States government, which has had a serious impact in
the medical field.
He clarified that the essential
concept of the program has not changed, but that
some elements have been modified. He explained that
the policy is directed toward developing a
comprehensive program based on the complete cycle of
research, development and production, prioritizing
the needs defined in the Basic Health Profile for
the population and the appropriate use of
medications. Additionally the policy projects
producing a 120-day reserve supply so that the
Public Health System’s planned needs can be met in a
Murillo, also head of the Policy
Implementation and Development Permanent Commission,
reported that a management and control system will
be established in pharmacies and opticians to
guarantee control of medications.
From 2014 through 2017, he said, a
digital system for the management and sales of
medication will be implemented, along with
improvements in the infrastructure and equipment
needed by community pharmacies to comply with
established norms and procedures.
Murillo went on to explain the
updating of the Natural and Traditional Medicine
Development Program, being conducted in accordance
with Guideline No.158 approved by the 6th Congress
of the Communist Party of Cuba, which calls for
prioritizing progress in this area.
He reported results from a
diagnostic study which revealed a lack of
comprehensive economic planning for the development
and sustainability of natural and traditional
medicine, since it has not been considered a
priority. Noted were shortcomings in organization,
training, equipment and resources necessary to
production, use and distribution, as well as little
support for producers who provide raw materials used
to prepare alternative medicines.
Among other difficulties, Murillo
pointed out that many natural products appearing on
the national market are priced too high and that
production is not planned based on an analysis of
health needs in different provinces. There have been
no market studies and local production centers often
do not have the facilities or technology to ensure a
quality product, he said.
Murillo indicated that, as part of
the updated policy, natural and traditional medicine
will be an integral part of the National Medications
Program and will become an important tool throughout
the public health system for prevention, treatment
and rehabilitation, based on the Basic Health
Profile established for the Cuban population.
Specific measures included
strengthening research with a view toward promoting
the development and use of natural and traditional
medicine; designing a wholesale and retail pricing
policy to both encourage producers and promote the
use of alternative products; direct contracting
between those preparing natural products and
agricultural producers of all kinds; as well as
coordinating efforts to improve pharmacies with
local production centers.
President Raúl Castro commented on
the issue, emphasizing that despite its being
considered strategic for the country, necessary
attention has not been paid to this type of medical
care. He therefore called for the development of a
detailed plan, with input from all provinces, to
definitively consolidate the program under the
direction of the Policy Implementation and
Development Permanent Commission and the ministers
of Public Health and Agriculture.
CARE OF THE ELDERLY
The Council of Ministers
additionally discussed measures taken to improve the
country’s community day centers for the elderly,
known as Casas de Abuelos, and senior
citizens’ homes, outlined in a report also presented
by Vice President Murillo, who said, "Given the
current and projected rate of aging of Cuba’s
population, ensuring the care of older citizens is
one of the greatest difficulties facing families,
causing people in the prime of their working lives,
principally women, to leave the workforce."
These institutions do not have the
capacity to meet the demand for their services and
their ability to meet the needs of disabled elderly
Cubans is even more limited. The quality of
attention provided has also suffered due to problems
with building maintenance, equipment, furniture and
staff, Murillo reported.
The Vice President said that the
comprehensive analysis of the issue and the measures
to be taken should reflect both Guidelines No.144
and No.173, which respectively call for the
implementation of strategies to address the aging of
the population and the elimination of excessive
subsidies, following the principle of subsidizing
persons in need and not products in general.
Among the measures discussed was the
development of a program to provide maintenance and
repair of facilities, renovate furniture, and
eliminate accessibility barriers, in order that by
2025, the country’s facilities will be fully
functional and services improved.
Additionally, Murillo reported that
in 2014, on an experimental basis, community centers
for disabled elders will be opened in several
Additionally, over the next two
years (2013-2015), new community day centers and
residential sites will be established, projects
which must be highly functional and durable, with
rational use of space, plus low initial and ongoing
Once living conditions and quality
of services in these facilities have been improved,
the state subsidy will be reduced and fees charged.
Social Assistance will assume the cost of services –
entirely or partially - of low-income citizens,
identified on the basis of investigation, those
receiving a limited pension or without family
members to care for them.
Murillo added that non-state forms
of economic management [cooperatives and self-employed]
will be encouraged to become involved in providing
services to community centers and senior citizens’
"The problem of population aging is
a serious issue," President Raúl Castro said,
emphasizing the need to analyze the situation in
detail, understand its causes and seek solutions,
because attending to the needs of the elderly is "a
THIRD GROUP OF NON-AGRICULTURAL
During the meeting, the Council of
Ministers also approved a third group of 73 non-agricultural
cooperatives. Of these, 38 will be devoted to
commerce and restaurant services; one to industry;
one to transportation; and 33 to construction.
Murillo Jorge reported that 41
cooperatives have emerged from former state-run
operations, while 32 are the result of self-employed
individuals coming together to work cooperatively.
Among the basic characteristics of the new
cooperatives are that they will operate in both
national currencies, CUP and CUC; they were
constituted with financial contributions from the
associates; they will be requesting bank credit for
start-up; and prices to be charged will be
determined by supply and demand.
With the approval of this new group
of cooperatives, Murillo added, the principal that
the state will maintain ownership of the fundamental
means of production is maintained. At the same time,
the state is removing itself from activities which
are not considered essential to the country’s basic
FINAL DATA FROM 2012 CENSUS
Murillo also presented the final
report on data gathered during the Population and
Housing Census conducted in September of 2012, the
most thorough and costly statistical investigation
The Census revealed that Cuba's
population stands at 11,167,325 persons - 10,418
less than the number counted in the previous
national census of 2002. As for gender distribution,
a slight majority of women was noted (50.1% as
compared to 49.9%), a relationship which is the
opposite of that determined in the 2002 census.
The aging of the country's
population was confirmed with 18.3% of inhabitants
being 60 years of age or older, as compared to 17.2%
between 0 and 14 years of age. Murillo also pointed
out that the racial composition of the nation
continues to evolve toward a more mixed race
Council of Ministers Vice President
Murillo also reported that 3,885,900 living places
were visited, of which 3,882,424 were households.
The remaining number are workplace accommodations
where people reside permanently and collective
living sites such as senior citizens' homes and
those for unattended children. "These figures allow
us to conclude that between the Census of 2002 and
that of 2012, the number of dwellings increased by
9.9%," he commented.
The final Census report indicated
that the number of Cubans economically active rose
to 5,022,303, representing 54.3% of the total over
15 years of age, with 78.3% of these working within
the state-run sector.
Raúl commented that this data merits
careful attention and should not be simply filed
away, saying that such information is fundamental to
the work of leaders from the municipal to the
It was also reported that, over the
next few days, the media will be distributing more
information about final Census data.
MINISTRY OF CONSTRUCTION REORGANIZED
Leonardo Andollo Valdés, deputy
director of the Policy Implementation and
Development Permanent Commission, presented the
results of a study of the Ministry of Construction
and proposals to improve its functioning to ensure,
among other goals, the separation of state
regulatory responsibilities from those of its
He reported that the study revealed
the Ministry’s limited ability to make strategic
projections given the unwieldy number of tasks its
central leadership undertakes. Also noted was the
surplus of budgeted entities which incur significant
Other problems cited were the
ineffectiveness of state inspectors facing repeated
violations of building codes; training which does
not prepare highly skilled workers; inefficient
planning and management of material and financial
resources, which often interrupts construction
projects and leads to poor quality work.
He explained that within the new
structure, the central directorate will be more
cohesive and efficient. Work will be managed by
three Central Enterprise Management Organizations (OSDE
in Spanish): the Construction and Industrial
Erection Enterprise Group; the Construction
Materials Enterprise Group and the Construction
Design and Engineering Enterprise Group.
These state enterprises will direct,
along with the Ministry, the internal changes needed
to achieve better organization, efficiency and
autonomy, in an effort to improve economic and
BETTER USE OF GUEST HOUSES
Andollo Valdés also introduced a
policy to make better use of the country’s guest
houses, and other facilities of this type belonging
to government bodies and enterprises, by creating a
lodgings and recreation system which would function
on the basis of fees charged clients, to be paid
personally or by the sponsoring entity.
Prices at these facilities would not
be subsidized and would depend on their category,
assuring that the enterprises managing such sites
could generate enough earnings to allow for their
sustainability and development.
A large number of these
installations will gradually be designated for use
as dwellings, to be assigned by provincial and
municipal Administrative Councils, prioritizing
families who have been living in temporary housing
several years after losing their homes and those
facing critical social challenges.
OVERDUE ACCOUNTS PAYABLE AND
The last issue addressed by the
Council of Ministers was that of overdue accounts
payable and receivable as of June 30, a question the
body has systematically discussed in these sessions.
Lina Pedraza Rodríguez, Minister of Finances and
Prices, explained that at the close of the first
half of the year, a tendency toward reducing such
outstanding payments was noted.
Despite this trend, she said, the
number of overdue debts owed by one entity to
another, within the same organization, remains high,
generating a cascading effect of outstanding debt
within the economy, an issue to which the Council
will devote more attention in future meetings.
Closing the discussion on this
agenda item, Raúl commented that, in general,
progress in this area is being noted and said, "We
will have to continue checking on the problem
regularly until it is resolved."
The ministers also approved a policy
on compensation for athletes, training staff and
sports specialists, as well as proposals to improve
the functioning of Havana’s City Historian’s Office.
Granma will provide more details on these
issues in future editions.
September 21, the Council of
Ministers led by President Raúl Castro approved a
number of policies which respond to several Economic
and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the
Revolution, with which the updating of Cuba’s
economic model will continue to advance.