The increase and diversification of exports, and the increase in savings measures are two of the main priorities of the Cuban economy for 2020, according to the government plan presented this Friday by the minister of economy to the island’s National Assembly.
When presenting to Parliament this year’s balance and the forecasts for the next, Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil also highlighted as priorities for the next twelve months import substitution, the efficiency of the investment process, advance in the country’s monetary organization and fostering links between the state sector, the non-state sector and foreign investment.
En sesión de #ANPP Ministro @AlejandroGilF presentó a los diputados información de la ejecución del plan 2019, las medidas adoptadas en materia económica, así como los principales aspectos contenidos en el plan 2020. Ver: https://t.co/tUhVxu2aMI#SomosContinuidad #PoderPopular pic.twitter.com/z5mg7xZ1iK
— Ministerio de Economía (@MEP_CUBA) December 19, 2019
Gil said that despite the current “complex scenario” experienced by the island, marked by the intensification of the U.S. embargo, a 1% economic growth is expected for next year, an objective that must be achieved by “adjusting” to existing resources, through “great effort, discipline and search for alternatives” and “without increasing the country’s external indebtedness.”
The minister announced that exports are estimated to grow 3.7% due to a better tourism performance, and products such as nickel, tobacco, sugar, rum, charcoal, honey and biopharmaceuticals, the Agencia Cubana de Noticias news agency reported.
He also specified that in tourism the arrival of 4.5 million visitors is planned, for a growth of 4.7%, while an increase of 20% of the retail commercial circulation is estimated, an increase of 3.3% in power generation―bringing the contribution of renewable energy sources to 6.5% of the total―and a 19% growth in investments for a total of 12 billion pesos.
Regarding salaries, he said that the 2020 plan estimates a 112-peso growth of the average salary compared to 2019, which would allow to reach 989 pesos, while the generation of jobs must grow by 0.7%.
Regarding foreign investment, he said that “already established businesses are being followed up and more than 50 new projects are being assessed,” while on savings, he said that it is necessary to maintain, even increase, the established measures, which “does not mean to stop doing, but to achieve more efficient levels of activity with a better use of fuels.”
In 2019, the government was forced to take savings measures due to the “temporary” energy crisis because of a diesel deficit, which Gil attributed to pressures exerted by the United States on shipping companies that transport fuel to the island from Venezuela.
The growth target of 1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product for this year―which at the time the island’s authorities considered “realistic”―was not met by a percentage point, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), estimated that the Cuban GDP reached barely 0.5%.