Time for SMEs in Cuba?

pic: A Perry @famouswebsites

As part of the new Ordering Task (“Tarea de Ordenamiento”), new provisions that will govern the self-employment activity in Cuba (TCP) will be soon announced.

Almost eliminated in 1968 but rescued during the difficult times of the Special Period at the end of the last century, self-employment was (and still is) a lifeline for tens of thousands of Cuban citizens. Some with the desire to improve their economic possibilities, others to be able to survive, the self-employed went from being almost a non-existent species in the centralized economy to became a small-scale providers of products and services… just where they were most needed. Where the state system lacked the dynamism required, the TCP provided a mixture of Cuban ingenuity, the enthusiasm of seeing the result of its work and the pragmatism of satisfying the expectations and needs of its clients.

In this regard, the first two decades of the new millennium were enough to show a lesson in terms of control, quality and efficiency to this system, during hard processes as the so-called “de los disponibles” started in 2010 and that deprived one and a half million workers of their jobs.

Along with the TCP authorization, its legal framework also emerged, with a “list of allowed activities” where state regulations tried to conceive any commercial activity, to extend a license and collect taxes for it. It end up regulating activities such as knocking down coconuts, so there were a lot of activities that sneaked through the loopholes of regulation.

From allowing to prohibiting

The ordering task was not well received in the TCP sector. After a year of pandemic in which all the activities of the sector were compromised (and closed for several months by decree), with the prevailing shortage, with the country closed to importing the necessary materials and on top of that, with no international tourism, many self-employed workers have been forced to surrender their licenses and survive on their savings.

However the new regulations announced last Wednesday seem to bring relief to the private sector. In particular, the repeal of the list of activities allowed, which includes 124 activities prohibited for the exercise of self-employment.

How the TCP will behave in the future remains uncertain, but the change in perspective gives scope for the creation of innovative and revolutionary companies that are better adapted to current conditions in the country. Maybe soon there is a possibility for SMEs in Cuba.

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