Cooperative ownership spreads

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 31 July 2013

More to be set up in 2014

In July, 124 new non-agricultural cooperatives representing various sectors of the economy including construction, produce markets, transportation, and recycling began operating. Of these, 112 are non-state sector cooperatives, while 12 operate within the state sector.

As in agriculture, the new cooperatives will be able to set prices for their products when prices are not already set by the state; and they will be run democratically, independently distribute profit among members, and receive more favourable tax treatment than businesses owned by individuals. Under the same law, such cooperatives may have an unlimited number of members and can contract employees for three months at a time.

Additional cooperatives functioning independently of the state entities and businesses will be created from 2014.

The first wholesale produce market run by a non-state sector cooperative also opened on 1 July and similar markets will open in three more provinces shortly. The market is owned by the state, but leased to the cooperative

Current estimates by Cuba's government suggest that more than 430,000 people work in Cuba's non-state sector. On top of this approximately 2,000 work in agricultural cooperatives and 400,000 are smallscale farmers.

The cooperatives will play an important role in the country’s economy, though the main task is to be carried out by state companies, said Ruben Toledo, member of the Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Guidelines. He noted that the cooperatives are not the result of privatisation, but of a process in which they will manage state property that belongs to the people.

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