Cuban authorities will rent workshop equipment and facilities so that
private workers can use their skills for their own benefit.
By Isaac Risco
HAVANA — Cuban authorities will rent out state-owned workshops to the
country's growing private sector, the Cuban Communist Party daily Granma
Carpenters, photographers, jewelers and locksmiths are among those who
will be able to rent public facilities.
The move is among other measures that the communist government has put
in place in recent months to improve the island's stalling economy.
The authorities will rent workshop equipment and facilities so that
workers can use their skills for their own benefit, as they did earlier
in sectors like hairdressing. Workers will be allowed to set their own
opening hours and prices, Granma said.
At first, beginning Sunday, the shops will be available in six of Cuba's
15 provinces, including Havana. The plan is to extend the program to the
rest of the country.
Critics of recent changes have demanded that more qualified
professionals also be allowed to work privately. Cuba has, for example,
many well-trained doctors who are paid wages well below those available
in the private sector.
Last week, President Raul Castro signaled his willingness to relax
Cuba's strict travel restrictions for its citizens, though no date was
set. Banks started lending money to farmers and others in the country's
There has been an easing of limits on state-owned firms, allowing them
more flexibility to subcontract private-sector firms for their services.
Such operations were previously only allowed for very small amounts of
New rules set by the Cuban Central Bank and the Finance Ministry allow
banks to grant personal loans to stimulate private consumption.
Other changes introduced over the past wo years include allowing people
to buy and sell their cars and homes for the first time in more than 50
years. Cubans have been allowed to stay in the island's luxury hotels,
previously only for foreigners, and to own computers and mobile phones.