How to create a food service cooperative in Cuba when it implies that the members of this association have, as a collective property, an estate and equipment which are difficult to acquire? In a nation where essential is the widespread possession style, how would we discard it and put it in the hands of a company that could succeed, but also fail? And even assuming we are to hand them this, will it be sufficient?
OnCuba left these questions unanswered a few days ago when it dissected it the subject of non-agricultural cooperatives, and sets out to answer them now though, it is clear, this is not a article that addresses only those who wish to take part directly in the new work modality, implemented by the Cuban government as part of the updating of the country’s economic model.
Whether in the role of consumers of new products and services that these forms of non-state management will make available to us, of collaborators of the family and friends who choose this type of work, or as cooperative members as such, the fact is that all Cubans will be one way or another involved in this young experience that for the first time will be associated with non-agricultural activities. (To this day, speak of cooperatives in our country was synonymous exclusive of farmers, members of groups under the unequivocal acronyms CPA, CCS or UBPC).
In a very short time, depending how long it will take for these projects to be approved, in Cuba people will be able to create these non agricultural cooperatives using their own monies which they will contribute voluntarily to a common goal. Also, under the principle of voluntary association, a cooperative may be created by individuals who only share the purpose of jointly acquire inputs and services, market products and services, or undertake other economic activities, each partner retaining ownership of its property.
A third method is to form them using state owned production assets as buildings and others, which will be managed by the cooperative. These assets will be leased, given in usufruct or other ways that do not involve the transferring of state ownership (although it is provided that in some cases state agencies can sell equipment, tools or other property, to cooperatives).
Finally, the government will allow the creation of cooperatives that combine all the aforementioned modalities.
For the case of leasing of properties whose management is no longer state-run, the government has ensured that it will grant preference to founding members of the cooperative to be created, employees of these entities, which are guaranteed a job opportunity as part of the management change.
If the facilities are currently inoperative, the new cooperatives can enter a bidding process for these.
It is known, even by the experience the extension of self-employment that has brought, that in some cases financial income as those obtained by way of remittances, allow some groups of people to have the initial capital to start this cooperative project, and lease or buy what they need.
For others, the only way to access these resources will be essentially a bank credit, but even in this case they will have to own a valuable asset to use as collateral.
In order to encourage those who have only their knowledge and desire to work, and don’t qualify for a credit, the Ministry of Finance and Prices will create a public fund using resources from the state budget.
The fund will be administered by banks licensed by the Central Bank of Cuba to act as trustees, and will aim to boost the start of operations of the cooperatives. This Ministry will propose annually the amount of financial resources for the Fund, to be approved by the State Budget Law each year.
It has also been assured that agricultural cooperatives will enjoy, once constituted, equal conditions with respect to other forms of production and services in the country, according to the purposes for which they were created.
Prices and pricing of products and services sold will be determined by them, according to supply and demand, except in some rare cases when the government deems necessary to establish a top, which will be lifted after fulfilling any commitments made to the State on contract.
Until economic conditions don’t allow the creation of a wholesale market where cooperatives can buy their supplies, they will get them in the retail network with a 20% discount of.
The submission of cooperative projects by voluntary association-the first two variants above-mentioned, will be done at the local organs of People’s Power, or national agencies governing the activities included in the framework. Then they will take these projects to the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development of Guidelines for the Sixth Party Congress, and this, after evaluating them, will take them to the Council of Ministers for approval.
Although it has been reiterated that these forms are not to be administratively subordinated to any state institution, its governing body will be the General Assembly, composed of the partners, it has been regulated that the organ, organism and national entity authorizing the establishment of cooperatives is directly responsible for the control and performance evaluation; that clearly pursues the experiment to steadily move through hardly known terrain, but could entail the risk of excessive "attention" by the state party, that behind the curtain of great "care" hide ties, (bitter lesson learned from the UBPCs). Avoiding this "overprotection" also should be subject to ongoing monitoring by competent authorities.