HAVANA, Might 25 (Reuters) – There isn’t any fast repair for Cuba’s sputtering financial system, its financial system minister mentioned on Thursday, as inflation, gas shortages, plunging farm manufacturing and a money crunch drag on output and proceed to fan discontent within the communist-run island nation.
Economic system Minister Alejandro Gil, in an hour-long presentation earlier than newly elected lawmakers, mentioned there was too little overseas forex on the island to pay for coveted gas, meals and farm imports, that means Cuba would more and more scrape by with what it could possibly produce at residence.
“If we will´t produce it, we received´t have it,” Gil informed lawmakers, referring particularly to some meals merchandise and urging legislators and municipalities to place renewed impetus on farm output this yr and subsequent.
A extreme financial disaster in Cuba, among the many worst since Fidel Castro´s 1959 revolution, has led to shortages of meals, gas and medication and contributed to a record-breaking exodus of migrants north to the USA.
Tourism, as soon as a key driver of much-needed overseas trade, has struggled to revive, with customer numbers between January and April this yr at solely half that of the identical interval in 2019, Gil mentioned.
That has left the nation wanting the overseas forex essential to import important farming requirements like fertilizer and animal feed.
The manufacturing of pork for the state, for instance, plunged from a document 199.7 tonnes in 2017 to simply 16 tonnes in 2022, Gil mentioned, as inputs dried up. Many vegetables and fruit have fared equally poorly, he mentioned.
Gas which may in any other case assist bolster farm manufacturing and ship items to market has been re-routed to electrical energy technology, Gil mentioned. Cuba used almost twice as a lot diesel as deliberate to provide electrical energy within the first 4 months of 2023, the financial system minister added.
Hovering meals costs, because of inefficiencies and dwindling manufacturing, have far outpaced the shopping for energy of most Cubans, Gil mentioned, leaving many with salaries wanting masking their “fundamental wants.”
Cuba blames a Chilly Struggle-era U.S. commerce embargo for a lot of its woes, although prime officers have more and more referred to as on Cubans to seek out new methods to beat the sanctions.
Reporting by Dave Sherwood
Modifying by Invoice Berkrot
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