Granma, Cuba, December 21, 2022 — The Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Party reviewed the economic and social measures to face the situation of the country.
This was stated by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez stated that “there is a lot to work in 2023, but there are potentials and possibilities to do it; we have to do it in an intelligent, committed, agile way, seeking effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency in everything that is done.” He stated this during the debate on the last day of the Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the PCC, which was led by the member of the Political Bureau and Secretary of Organization, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, and where it was discussed the economic outlook of the country in 2022 and the projections for the following year.
In evaluating the fulfillment of the objectives and goals of the 2022 National Economy Plan, PCC Central Committee member, Deputy Prime Minister and head of Economy and Planning (MEP), Alejandro Gil Fernández, informed that the results in this period show that still the measures do not reach the necessary impact, despite the fact that there is a slight recovery of the economic activity.
When examining the behavior of the year that is ending, contained in the report Measures to face the current situation of the country, Gil Fernandez added that the increase in exports that had been foreseen in the plan did not meet the estimates On the other hand, the prices of imports, mainly in food and fuels,increased.
However, -he commented- the Cuban economy in 2022 showed a growth that reflects “the gradual process of recovery in which the country has been immersed since mid-2021.” Although productive activity has been affected by the fuel and energy deficit, the revival of services, especially social services, marked the recovery trend, he said.
“I believe that this is the way to guide us in what we have to do and what we are going to do in 2023,” he added.
The main restriction of the economy to reach the levels of 2019 is the deficit of foreign exchange deficit -reflected the head of the MEP-, as it is the first goal set for the revitalization in production and services, taking into account that neither 2020 nor 2021 can be compared, due to the sharp fall of the Gross Domestic Product in part of that biennium, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the intensification of the blockade of the US Government.
Regarding the inflation, he pointed out that controlling it in the short-term is the main priority and this depends, fundamentally, on the increase of production, not on monetary measures; although these are also necessary.
He referred to the economic impact and the great affectations to the population generated by the instability of the National Electric System, and in the social order, he detailed the employment situation and the attention to people, homes and communities in vulnerable situations.
Gil Fernandez pointed out that 2022 has been a hard and difficult year. However, there is recovery in some activities, the COVID-19 pandemic was overcome, and new decisions included in the Economic and Social Strategy were implemented.
WHAT WE NEED TO DO AND HOW TO DO IT
In a concise but enlightening speech, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, stressed that the economic issue is the most complex and the one on which the population expects prompt answers, and pointed out that any economic measure to be adopted must be viewed with integrity.
Everybody is clear what their job is in the road to economy but the lack of financial resources is the most difficult part, since any measure taken, requires a minimum of financial resources, explained the President.
“ you want to expand the exchange market and you do not have enough foreign currency to allow a correspondence between the mass of currency and the national currency, what do you do? Then, the financial aspect is the first thing that starts to slow you down. If you want to prioritize the agricultural sector, you have to have money to make a group of investments; if you want to solve social problems, you need money,” the President said.
Everything requires financial resources, but that does not mean that we stop, the President clarified. “We -he said- what we have to look for is how we can generate by ourselves the income that the country needs and how we spend less on superfluous things, in order to move forward with more coherence in all these interrelationships”.
He added that we are at a time when we are describing a lot of the problems that exist, and that is correct, it gives clarity, it says that we know the problems, but solutions are not always proposed with the same intensity. “Sometimes I have the impression that we are waiting for a “superior entity” to be the one to give the solution, and that does not work in economics. What we have here are many things that need to be solved in each place, at the local level, in the territory, in certain business systems or systems of institutions.”
Delving into the solutions that the country must provide to the economic problem, Díaz-Canel emphasized the imperative of resolving the economic imbalances that have been accumulating, among them the monetary imbalance. But, “is it all the population that has a lot of monetary income? No, it is polarized in sectors.”
There is a part of that income -he denounced- that is in a segment of the state business sector -some with productive responses and others without so much productive response and without so much efficiency-; another, in the private production and services sector; and another, very concentrated, in a sector of the population that does not contribute anything, which, unfortunately -he accused- moves around illegal activity.
“What this monetary structure has clearly caused is that there is a deterioration in the purchasing power of the people, especially among people with lower incomes, in retirees, pensioners and in the budgeted sector, where there are very important activities for the development of the country and for the benefit of the population, such as the Health and Education sectors.
“Our doctors, our teachers, are earning little, and every day they star in a work full of heroism, which contributes a lot to the life of the country, not to mention other sectors, such as the legal sector, where there are also inconsistencies of this type”.
We also have -he added- productive sectors where, in order to prevent the costs or prices of a group of goods and services to the population from being overdimensioned, prices have been established through administrative measures, which is not adequate to deal with business problems.
All those imbalances -the First Secretary pointed out- have to be fixed, restructured, and that takes risks, no measure is perfect, no measure solves a problem all at once. They all have some kind of implication, but we have to break those knots, we have to start moving forward at a different pace in order to mitigate the current problems and generate better conditions to move forward.
“In other words, we have to break the vicious circle that has been created by the excess of liquidity in the hands of a few, to create minimum conditions so that the country can work normally. It is a matter, as some of the comrades who participate in the group of economic advisors of the Central Committee of the Party say, of breaking the vicious circle and turning it into a virtuous circle”.
We know -he said- that it is difficult, but when it is achieved, this becomes an incentive to overcome our problems, and that is the confidence we have to have; that is the perspective we have to give to all this. We have -he summarized- to put on track the measures that have been adopted and manage to lower inflation and that there is a stable exchange rate of the CUP in relation to the MLC.
This task has risks, it has costs that cannot be totally avoided under the conditions in which our economy moves today; then -he oriented- a mechanism is required to ensure a sequence and an integrality in the changes in our economy, and to be constantly sharing with the population to achieve consensus, understanding, participation, in what we are going to do to mitigate the social impacts.
And we also must have at the center, the principle that “we cannot neglect the attention of those who are in a situation of vulnerability, because otherwise we would be applying shock policies, which is neither the intention nor the solution in a process of socialist construction.”
INNOVATE IN EVERYTHING
In the discussion of the economic theme at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee, the First Secretary identified a group of priorities to be taken into account in 2023, on which it was abounded in depth and where, it was stated, innovation must be present:
-The Macroeconomic Stabilization Plan.
-The stability of the National Electric Energy System (SEN).
-Direct foreign investment and existing projects and programs, especially those related to food production and the SEN, and other investments that produce growth, generate exports and are aimed at improving the living conditions of the population, such as those related to housing, roads and others with an important social impact.
-To promote tourism.
-To definitively promote local development and local productive systems.
-To reduce the budget deficit, working on income and improving the application of our tax system.
-To strengthen banking and financial infrastructures, within the country and with the countries with which we have trade and a group of prioritized programs.
-To reduce the social inequalities that have arisen or already existed.
-To concrete public policies for young people, and to implement them.
-And as part of the legislative exercise, to move forward as quickly as possible on the Enterprise Law.