The alleged re-structuring of the Cuban agricultural market, news of the day in the Cuban press, leaves a strong dose of skepticism. Diversity in food marketing, does not lead to the long awaited pricing system diversity.
Now the sales point, retail markets in its four variants, plus the self-employed – vendors or sellers at stands – , will have green light to sell its products according to supply and demand.
The regulatory mechanism will be born of a market, and at this point, suffering the effects of inflation. The near horizon points, then, to a double rise of prices of agricultural products.
A government economic adviser commented earlier this week that the state does not regulate prices if you consider its decentralization policy in the agricultural sector, while referring to the need for the consumer himself to take over the quality at the time of deciding on the offer.
But, what to do in a market that sets a single price for a product, whatever its quality, or in the face of a high-income earner who can afford the product at any price?
With this marketing initiative producers win, because they receive the necessary stimulus to continue contributing from the Cuban countryside; go-betweens win too, for obvious reasons, but the consumer loses, without a salary at the level of basic needs, or a price system related to wages.
According to the doctor of economic sciences, Omar Everleny Perez, the Cuban spends between 70 and 80 percent of their wages on food. How much will he spend from now on?
The head of the Agribusiness Policy of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development of the Guidelines, Roberto Pérez Pérez, said that even if the transformation is essential for producers, who will see in a direct and transparent way the economic advantages of the new forms of marketing, in the short run the supply of the product will not increase, or the longed decline in prices
Given this reality, one of the palliative will be setting a cost ceiling for eight products in 2014: rice, beans, potatoes, dried corn, sweet potato, orange, grapefruit and tomato, to which is added the peas, according to statements by Perez Perez.
The list raises, of course, controversies.
Why is grapefruit among prioritized food? Is it more consumed than yam? And what about the onion and garlic, irreplaceable in Cuban kitchens? It is alarming to think that we will continue to pay 10 to 15 CUP for a white onion or maybe more.
Leaving time, market and the logic of social control, regulation of agricultural prices can be a way, but, once again, the consumer is helpless to face the Cuban economic actors.
It would not be foolish to think about designing an updated system for protection, nor would be foolish to increase the real wage in terms of a pyramid, which now lies upside down.