10/22/13 - Deutsche Welle - Cuba announces plan to end dual currency system
The official Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma said Tuesday the
Council of Ministers had decided to gradually implement measures that will
lead towards "monetary and exchange rate unification."
Cuba has used a dual currency system since 1994, when the country opened
up to mass tourism. Under the current arrangement, the government
exchanges money received through tourism, trade and overseas remittance
one-to-one with convertible Cuban pesos. However, Cuba pays workers'
salaries and charges for services in ordinary pesos, which are worth 25
times less than the convertible peso.
Cuban President Raul Castro wanted to update socialism when he took up
office, but, five years on, little has changed. Change is not expected
after Sunday's elections with 612 Communists running for 612 seats.
The state subsidizes many basic services in the communist island nation,
but things like internet access in public places and imported goods are
available only in convertible pesos.
Such a system allows Cubans with access to the convertible pesos usually
tourism industry workers, small entrepreneurs and people who receive
remittances from relatives abroad the opportunity to obtain certain
goods and services that remain unaffordable for many other people.
"[Monetary unification] is not a measure that will by itself solve all of
the economy's current problems, but its application is crucial to
guarantee the revaluation of the Cuban pesos," Granma said. "It will start
with a period of preparations of the conditions that will lead to drafting
President Raul Castro, who has slowly been rolling back certain facets of
Cuba's soviet-style economy, had previously mentioned plans to end the
double currency system as early as July.
Granma said it was not immediately clear how long the change would take,
but said it would help to boost economic efficiency and serve as stimulus
to enterprises that import goods and services.
dr/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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