Slight readjustment of the economy to the low

The Cuban GDP grew a tenth less than the 3.3 estimated in December, according to the most recent official report that reiterates the poor response of the agricultural sector.

Jorge Luis Baños-IPS/

The Cuban economy grew 3% in 2012, 0.1% less than the amount anticipated in December by the government.

The Cuban economy grew 3 percent in 2012, according to the most recent estimates of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) of Cuba. The data implies a reduction of a tenth as compared to the report presented to the MPs in December by Economy and Planning Minister Adel Yzquierdo. The gross domestic product (GDP) had already been below the 3.4 percent planned by the government for 2012.

By sectors, one of the most marked blows came from agricultural productions, which decreased 1.2 percent, as a new reaffirmation of the poor response of the agricultural sector to the numerous measured adopted for strengthening it. Import rights also diminished by 2.8 percent, while financial intermediateness dropped 5.7 percent, according to ONEI.

However, in the report to Parliament, Yzquierdo’s harshest criticism fell on the non-fulfilment of the plan for investments, which were 19 percent below the previewed amount, though – as he said then – they grew 15 percent over what was achieved in 2011. But the most recent ONEI data seem to confirm the reasons that worried the minister, since investments, with a total close to 4.6 billion pesos, grew more moderately than what was perceived in December: only 6 percent at the close of the year over 2011.

The minister blamed the failures in investments to the lack of integrality with which that process has been handled, low productivity, deficient management of imports and resources, including human resources, and the delay in the granting of credits, among other factors.

The best news for the Cuban economy was given by the sugar industry. Though it was slightly below the planned amount – and neither does it seem to be in condition to achieve the plans in the recently concluded harvest -, last year crude sugar production grew a solid 16.8 percent, according to the most recent ONEI report.

Other sectors that also showed a strong increase in 2012 were construction (18 percent), business, real estate and rental services (11.8 percent), the contributions to science and technology (7.8 percent), the results of culture and sports (10.8 percent) and commerce and the repair of household goods (6.4 percent).

The largest contribution of wealth to the Cuban economy fell on the latter area. According to the ONEI report, commerce and the repair of household goods contributed 9.58 billion pesos. In line with the growing weight of the export of medical services and the current way of calculating the macroeconomic indicators in the country, public health and social assistance came in second (with a contribution of 8.58 billion pesos), while manufactured productions, not including the sugar industry, stood at around 6.65 billion pesos, 1.8 percent more than the previous year.

From the point of view of the contribution in hard currency, the list is different. The export of professional services, especially physicians, is at the head of the balance of payments in Cuba. According to estimates by analysts from the Centre for the Study of the Cuban Economy (CEEC), around 70 percent of the dollars that enter Cuban accounts come from services, including tourism and the export of professionals. The export of goods takes up the rest, though it has been witnessing a notably fast growth in the last two years.

According to the most recent Statistical Yearbook, published in August 2012, Cuba obtained more than 6 billion dollars for the export of merchandise in 2011, double what was earned two years before. The pharmaceutical products are some of the items with the most impetuous growth in the last five years, another detail that ratifies the changes in nuances in an economy that no longer depends, like in the past, only on sugar and tobacco exports, despite the fact that the country is still not satisfied with the diversity of its business portfolio. (2013)

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