CUBA MODIFIES RULES TO SPUR PRIVATE SECTOR
Last Updated: 2018-12-07
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HAVANA, Dec 7 (NNN-Xinhua) -- Cuba's government has taken new regulations that will spur the island's fledgling private sector to ensure it continues to expand and create jobs, local media said.

The new regulations, which will take effect on Friday, include allowing entrepreneurs to hold more than one business license, as long as they meet their obligations, state daily Granma said.

"Finally! We have all been waiting for a wise decision like that," said Yosbany Diaz, who runs a hostel for tourists, but can't offer to transport them in his car because he doesn't have a taxi driver's license.

His wife Marlene complained they couldn't cook for their guests or serve them any of Cuba's famed cocktails because they did not have a food and alcohol license.

The new rules also do away with a limit on the number of tables in private bars, restaurants and coffee shops, said the government, adding the size of the establishment will dictate capacity.

Additionally, bakeries will be allowed to sell beer.

The changes were made after receiving feedback from the private sector, the daily said.

The previous stricter regulations, including limiting business licenses to one per applicant, were put in place to prevent the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. But they were also putting the breaks on a nascent sector that is generating jobs.

While the government reviewed the rules, it suspended granting licenses for scores of activities, which have now gotten the green light, with the exception of computer programming.

According to local economic analysts, designing apps has become a very lucrative occupation in a country with a burgeoning private sector, and the activity may need greater oversight.

Several apps, such as "A la mesa" ("At the table"), which lists restaurants throughout Cuba, have become popular among residents. However, restaurant owners have to pay to be in the listing.

Regardless, Cuba's private sector is here to stay, say officials.

The sector, which emerged as part of the modernization drive of the economy, "has generated jobs, and expanded the range of products and services available to the people, in addition to relieving the government of nonessential activities," Margarita Gonzalez, minister of Work and Social Security, told reporters.

Today, nearly 600,000 Cubans, 13 percent of the country's workforce, work in the private sector, accounting for some 4 percent of gross domestic product. -- NNN-XINHUA