What not to do with the private sector in Cuba

A few days ago Reuters published a news item about a version obtained by them of the awaited measures for self-employment; however, we continue without knowing too much.

Today it is easier to find in the street a person who dares to give an answer about when the currencies will be unified than one that gives you a date for the appearance of the new rules of the game for the non-state sector.

For me, the answers to those questions should go hand in hand with others: When and how will the multiple exchange rates between the CUC and the CUP start being eliminated? When will the appearance of small and mid-size private enterprises start being implemented in Cuba?

It will be extremely difficult to unify the currencies and eliminate the 1:1 exchange rate in the state sector without using the controlled growth of the private/cooperative sector with a tool, among many things, to manage the imbalances that will be generated in the national economy.

With this mishmash of questions in mind and with a voracious impatience, 200 days of silence gave gone by for a group of self-employed who want to participate in these analyses. A silence only broken when we were received late last December by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to dialogue about the process of perfecting self-employment.

Looking at the situation with optimism, does this delay benefit us in something? Yes. It is a gift of time for those of us who believe it necessary to continue placing the subject to national debate and discussing and participating. When the rules are engraved on stone it will be too late.

With this spirit I am writing these lines in which I humbly want to suggest to the government, not what it must do, but rather what it shouldn’t do.

Do not close private businesses

Under no concept should the measures cause the closing of private businesses, the loss of jobs and the reduction in the collection of taxes.

This mistake is already showing its head on the horizon and will be an excellent mechanism to fabricate dissatisfactions and new illegal activities.

The owners of two businesses, now forced to close one because it is impossible to have a permit, will have to peacefully accept that they lost time, resources and a source of incomes. Clients will go somewhere else complaining and the hired workers will tell their family that that’s the end of work and that they have to start anew. The State will contemplate with indifference how everyone, the owners and their former employees, will stop paying it taxes. But this is just in theory. In practice this problem will be resolved with a “name borrower” or a “figurehead” and everybody will be happy, except the State, which will be ripped off, at the precise moment when solid and efficient institutions that lead us along the path of prosperity are necessary.

Do not “throw the baby out with the bathwater”

This cannot be an option. Because of a handful – or even thousands of handfuls – of persons who break the law, another similar amount who have worked with dedication and trusting the rules given to them by the same ones who are now suddenly going to change them cannot be harmed. Do not justify the new policies with those who launder money or don’t pay taxes. Justify them with national wellbeing and the country’s development.

Do not establish slow or far from reality procedures

Do not put into force procedures that unnecessarily delay in time and are far from reality requirements.

It has been commented that the changes in the rules will be mainly in the procedures to apply for permits. It is to be expected that they will take longer and that it will be necessary to present a greater amount of documents and meet certain requisites. What the eternal and complicated procedures most rapidly generate is not order but rather corruption, by empowering unscrupulous officials who profit from the absurd.

Do not miss the occasion

Do not miss the opportunity of eliminating the causes for the illegal activities, which in many cases are generated by the rules of the game and the very system.

Punish those who commit crimes. If the amount of the fines and the types of infractions are going to increase, then with that same rigor establish clearly our rights and protection mechanisms. The latter cannot exclude hired workers. The current Labor Code has not been sufficient to guarantee them an eight-hour workday, the right to a month of paid vacations and paid maternity.

Do not look away

Do not give importance to what really doesn’t have it, letting what is really vital escape.

The future fusion of related permits has been given a lot of publicity. That measure lacks relevance. What really has a profound impact on the national economy would be to put an end to the policy of authorized activities. Replace it with a list of those that are forbidden because of questions of national interest and they will save the ad infinitum perfecting.

Behind all this there is an unquestionable truth. The creativity of Cubans will never be able to be enclosed between the walls of a ministerial resolution. We don’t have oil but we have the inexhaustible fuel of creativity to advance this country.

Let’s benefit from it.

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