Cuba – New opportunities to self-employed business

pic: Robin Canfield @robincanfield

The Cuban government opens the doors to the expansion of private sector by eliminating the restrictive list of 127 self-employed activities that were allowed until now.

The decision had been announced last July within a package of measures to face the recession and the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, but it was not approved until this week by the Council of Ministers, according to a review published this Saturday by the official newspaper Granma.

The Cuban Minister of Labor and Social Security, Marta Elena Feitó, advanced that self-employed workers – known in Cuba as “cuentapropistas” – must present a project and the procedures will be carried out through a single window, “which will make it possible to unleash the productive forces in this sector”.

More than 2,000 activities

So far it has not been specified which are the 124 forbidden activities, but the elimination of the list of allowed occupations means that the private sector can penetrate to more than 2,000 activities included in the “National Classifier of Economic Activities”.

It is to be expected that sectors such as health, education, telecommunications, energy or the press will remain among the restricted areas, all of them strategic for the Cuban State for economic or political-ideological reasons, and in some of which foreign investment is not authorized.

Economy Minister Alejandro Gil, described the elimination of the list as “a very important step in terms of expanding the possibilities of self-employment, to give a timely and positive response to the implementation of the monetary regulation in the country”.

Cuban economists and the private sector itself had been demanding the elimination of the list of permitted activities for years, considering it a drag on the country’s economy.

The private sector employs 600,000 people and accounts for 13% of the employed population, according to official data, although in practice the number is much higher. Those 600,000 are the holders of a “self-employment” license, but in turn employ more workers in their businesses.

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