Cuba's Raul Castro admits mass lay-offs behind schedule

A Cubataxi cab belonging to the state company Cubataxi is parked near the company in Havana, on 8 February, 2011. April's party congress will discuss which direction Cuba is heading

Related Stories

Cuba's plans to lay off half a million state workers by the end of March are behind schedule, President Raul Castro has acknowledged.

Mr Castro, quoted by state television, said the timetable for the cuts would be altered to soften their impact.

The redundancies form part of plans to revive Cuba's struggling economy, an issue due to be discussed at a rare Communist Party Congress in April.

The Cuban government currently employs about 85% of the official workforce.

President Castro, addressing a joint meeting of his cabinet and the Council of State, said given the lay-offs were behind schedule, the timeline would be adjusted, state television reported.

"A job of this magnitude which will affect so many citizens in one way or another cannot be marked by inflexible timetables," the report quoted him as saying.

Privileges

President Castro did not give a new target date for the planned redundancies, saying only that the overhaul of the economy would take at least five years.

He again insisted that the reforms would "leave nobody behind".

Last September, Mr Castro announced plans to lay off about a million state employees - about a fifth of the workforce - with half the jobs going by 31 March.

This would have been just three weeks before the first congress of the ruling Communist Party in 14 years.

Thousands of committees have been set up across the island to decide which jobs to eliminate and discuss the planned changes to the economy.

Eddy Cantallos attends to customers after receiving his new license to sell goods in front of a home in the El Cerro neighbourhood in Havana in January 2011 Thousands of Cubans have applied for licences to run their own businesses

According to state TV, the economy minister, Marino Murillo, said some seven million Cubans had taken part in a total of nearly 130,000 such meetings.

But resistance among those supposed to implementing the cuts has clearly had an effect.

BBC Mundo's Cuba correspondent Fernando Ravsberg says a major weakness of the reforms is that those supposed to be implementing them have most to lose in terms of economic interests and privileges.

As well as lay-offs, the Cuban government has been taking steps to ease some restrictions on private enterprise, allowing Cubans to apply for licences to run their own businesses, rent out rooms and in some case hire workers.

President Castro has said that the reforms are vital to overhauling the economy, which is burdened by debt and costly social programmes, as well as the effects of the long-standing US trade embargo.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world...?

    Think you are a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s interactive game

Programmes

  • StudentsClick Watch

    Could a new social network help tailor lessons to students’ needs and spot when they fall behind?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.