By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ — Associated Press
CANTARRANA, Cuba — It’s like a vision of the space age, carved out of the jungle: Thousands of glassy panels surrounded by a lush canopy of green stretch as far as the eye can see, reflecting the few clouds that dot the sky on a scorching Caribbean morning.Cuba’s first solar farm opened this spring with little fanfare and no prior announcement. It boasts 14,000 photovoltaic panels which in a stroke more than doubled the country’s capacity to harvest energy from the sun.The project, one of seven such farms in the works, shows a possible road map to greater energy independence in cash-poor Cuba, where Communist leaders are being forced to consider renewables to help keep the lights on after four failed attempts to strike it rich with deep-water oil drilling and the death of petro-benefactor Hugo Chavez.”For us this is the future,” said Ovel Concepcion, a director with Hidroenergia, the state-run company tasked with building the solar park 190 miles (300 kilometers) east of Havana in the central province of Cienfuegos.”This is just like having an oil well,” he told The Associated Press on a recent tour of the facility.Outside experts have chastised Cuba for missing an opportunity to develop alternative energy sources; just 4 percent of its electricity comes from renewables. That lags behind not only standard-setter Germany (25 percent) but also comparable, developing Caribbean nations such as the Dominican Republic (14 percent).Located on rural land unfit for farming, the solar park at Cantarrana, which translates roughly as “where frogs sing,” is a tentative step toward redressing that oversight.Construction began at the end of last year, about the same time that officials announced that a fourth exploratory offshore oil well drilled in 2012 was a bust and the only rig in the world that can drill in the deep waters off Cuba under U.S. embargo rules set sail with no return date.In April, the solar farm came online and began contributing the first solar power to the island’s energy grid. Cuba already had about 9,000 panels in use, but all of them were for small-scale, isolated usage such as powering rural hamlets, schools and hospitals.The solar farm now generates enough electricity to power 780 homes and had saved the equivalent of 145 tons of fossil fuels, or around 1,060 barrels of crude, through the end of July. Peak capacity is expected to hit 2.6 megawatts when the final panels are in place in September.That’s just a drop in the energy bucket, of course.Cuba gets about 92,000 barrels of highly subsidized oil per day from Venezuela to meet about half its consumption needs, according to an estimate by University of Texas energy analyst Jorge Pinon.But hopes are high that solar can be a big winner in Cuba, which enjoys direct sunlight year-round, allowing for consistent high yields of 5 kilowatt-hours per square meter of terrain.”The possibility of solar energy on a large scale could contribute to the island’s future energy security,” said Judith Cherni, an alternative energy expert at the Imperial College London Center for Environmental Policy who is familiar with Cuba’s efforts.Six other solar parks will come online in the coming months in Havana and the regions of Camaguey, Guantanamo, the Isle of Youth, Santiago and Villa Clara, though Concepcion did not specify their size.Concepcion did not say how much the Cantarrana park cost, but said the industry standard for a facility of its size is $3 million to $4 million. The government, which controls nearly all economic activity in Cuba, financed construction, and the panels were manufactured at a factory in the western province of Pinar del Rio.Cantarrana is already saving the island around $800 a day and Concepcion said it should pay for itself after a little more than a decade into its 25-year expected lifespan.The project is a notable change in mindset for a country that relies on imports for half its energy consumption and is vulnerable to the political ebb and flow in other countries.After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in the early 1990s, a loss of Soviet subsidies plunged Cuba into a severe crisis. Blackouts sometimes darkened Havana for 12 hours at a time.Chavez’s election in Venezuela in 1998 helped ease the crunch, but his death this March made clear that Havana can hardly depend on the tap staying open forever.Chavez’s handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has vowed to maintain the special relationship with Cuba. But he won election by a razor-thin margin, and the Venezuelan opposition will almost certainly cut the Cuba subsidy if it wins power.Pinon, of the University of Texas, predicted it will be at least three to five years before serious deep-water oil drilling can resume in Cuba.Cuba’s fuel uncertainty apparently prompted President Raul Castro to issue a decree in December creating seven working groups to chart a 15-year plan to develop alternative energy including solar, wind, biomass and others.Cuba already has a handful of experimental wind farms and some small, isolated hydroelectric facilities, though experts say Cuba’s shallow rivers are not ideal for large-scale power generation. The island has had the most success burning biomass from sugarcane, but harvests have fallen in recent years.According to a government report from May, the island hopes to get 10 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030.”The reality is that cheap, abundant oil is over, and we have to turn toward these technologies,” said Vicente Estrada Cajigal, a specialist on regional alternative energy initiatives and the former president of Mexico’s National Association for Solar Energy. “That treasure in the Gulf (of Mexico), I have my doubts.”Estrada Cajigal said the cost of solar panels has fallen by 80 percent in recent years, making it an ever more attractive option.But other experts were cautious about how much photovoltaic energy can contribute to the island.Mexican energy consultant Francisco Acosta said that the shaky Cuban economy’s intricate ties to fossil fuels are not easily undone, and the country has no choice but to continue to rely heavily on petroleum and derivatives.Solar “is a good idea, but to a certain point. … In a country like Cuba, stable energy is that which comes from hydrocarbons,” Acosta said.Cherni said unanswered questions remain about how Cuba will fund its alternative energy ambitions. But she said the island’s goal for 2030 seems about right, given that more-developed nations with greater resources are committing to 15 or 20 percent from renewables by 2020.”So 10 percent is a good start,” Cherni said.
Posts Tagged ‘environment’
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ — Associated Press
The economy had a positive first half year, although it is estimated that it will not be possible to fulfill the year plan. The GDP is expected to grow between 2.5 and 3 per cent. There is a surplus in the budget, however, underreporting of income and indiscipline in payment on time persist
By: José Alejandro Rodríguez, Margarita Barrios and Alina Perera – juventudrebelde.cu
The tensions caused by the global crisis and damage by Hurricane Sandy, that caused heavy losses in several provinces of the country, have not prevented the favorable behavior of the national economy, whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew in the first semester by 2.3 percent, higher than the same period the previous year.
For the member of the Politburo and Minister of Economy and Planning, Adel Yzquierdo, this reflects an appropriate reaction in most of the economic activities of the country and that a positive economic development is occurring.
Despite this upturn, he acknowledged that a lower growth than planned is estimated for the year end. This will be as a consequence of the global situation, the difficulties in obtaining external finance, among other factors, including domestic, that will result, undoubtedly, in a failure to achieve the growth rate of 3.6 percent planned, and he only projected it to be between 2.5 and three per cent.
The Minister recalled that in the First Regular Session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, attended by the First Secretary of the Party and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raul Castro, in the Council of Ministers and the Central Committee meeting, held recently, he gave a detailed report on the matter, to which all members had access, which allowed him not to detail every aspect.
He explained that 70 percent GDP growth is related to trade, transport and industry, and said that the latter also shows a positive trend, as its contribution to the GDP was more than four percentage points up compared to the same period in 2012.
As another expression of favorable economic development he mentioned the behavior of the trade balance of the country in the period. He said that we will increase exports and import less, although this benefit is relative, he said, because the money we do not spend is for investments that will not be realized, and these are important because they are what make development.
As a positive example of that correlation he mentioned the subject of food, because it is a key line. He noted that while we imported about 2,000 million dollars last year, in the first half of 2013 came a saving of 168 million, thanks to a joint effort between the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Foreign Investment. Among the strategies to achieve this reduction he highlighted the incorporation of new suppliers and making purchases in other countries.
This could be more positive if the problems in the contracting and collection of products to be produced by the country could be solved, and for that reason nearly $ 47 million was spent on purchases over the plan, which involves a decrease in the savings that had been achieved.
With regard to external finance and the payment of debt, he pointed out that it has been in strict compliance with the commitments. There has been progress in the use of external credit, with better use of the capacity.
He also highlighted that the retail trade turnover in CUP and CUC, grew by six percent in the first half, although failures occurred in some lines, as in the sale of eggs.
In addressing this issue he specified that Hurricane Sandy caused heavy losses, which amounted to 7,000 million dollars, which negatively impacted on the country’s production results.
The Minister said that the generation and use of energy also had a positive result. Some 50 percent of the oil and gas used is produced in the country, and the use of electricity also has positive parameters.
Another area in which growth is being achieved, but where problems and defaults occur, especially through low technical availability, is in transport, which affects the public services. The bus passenger transportation is affected by the deteriorating technical condition of the equipment, especially in Havana.
Investments also achieved a significant increase, by 16 percent, lower than expected, but productivity remains low, the labor force has a deficit and there is poor planning of the works. He noted that the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) is reviewing the investment plan, in conjunction with the Ministry of Construction, and this is not yet prepared and cannot be included in this document.
Yzquierdo specified negligence have been detected in the execution, for which help has been asked from the Attorney General, as this is an old problem that must be resolved, because the resources that the country has must used well and not used for other purposes .
Another negative note is the plan to build homes in the capital, which will be missed, because it was too ambitious and has lacked the resources, so about 500 of those planned will not be completed.
In Santiago, the plan is also strong, he recognized, and although they have had problems with the supply of resources there is a commitment to comply, and it is expected to complete all the planned homes, which also includes those which were lost by damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Private building has also failed in the first half, because people bought the resources mainly to improve the house they have, but have yet to fulfill the plan for the year, amounting to about 13, 000 homes.
Finally, the MEP minister stated that with regard to employment, this should decrease in the state sector and the non-state will grow, especially since the new management approved for self-employed.
Budget surplus in the first half year
The news was given by Lina Pedraza, Minister of Finance and Prices, reporting on the implementation of the state budget at the end of the first half of 2013: there is a surplus, that is, net income was over-fulfilled by 4.3 percent, and expenses are estimated to be 92.4 percent. Put more clearly: less was spent than came in.
The main excess incomes are those from the corporate income tax, the extraordinary taxes from state enterprises, and those related to social security contributions, among others.
She said, however, there have been failures in planning and there are aspects that have not been considered, which explains certain levels of overachievement.
In terms of personal income tax, which taxes the self-employed and artists, there is a surplus of almost 40 percent. But there have also been unfavorable elements, like underreporting of income and indiscipline in the payment on time.
“So-she said- the actions that the National Tax Administration Office (Onat) has developed must be deployed, and that henceforth must be implemented, with all the strength that our country needs.”
There has also been a default in taxes on services of 50 million pesos, essentially the payment and below by housing landlords according to their income statements. In this regard, he said, the Onat must make a special and d ifferentiated work to discipline and bring order.
Breaches are present also in the circulation and sales tax. Although at the level of the economy commodity circulation overfulfilled the plan, internally, in certain facets, there have been shortcomings. Therefore, these arrears that are presented in some products in the first half, have caused deficits of 388 million pesos.
Other breaches come from contributions from state enterprises that have claimed lack of liquidity.
As for the spending, he said that the 92 percent compliance can be interpreted as a bonus, but this is not always positive. Among the causes for not reaching the amount of planned expenditure are problems such as the non- completion of the payrolls, market shortages, low implementation of building maintenance as well as shortcomings in the planning and budget programming.
Pedraza recognized the need to review everything, because cracks were detected in the execution of the budget, which must be designed in a more realistic and scientific manner.
He noted that the deficiencies in the accounting records continue to occur and kept gravitating to the results of the budget execution.
The expenses of business activity were 100.7 percent, which was expected. And, this is because subsidized retail prices cost 2,104 million pesos as expected. In the enterprise system the budget has supported in this stage what has corresponded to ensure they meet their commitments.
It is estimated, he said, that the execution of the state budget at the end of 2013 will conclude with a budget deficit of 388 billion pesos. Everything depends on how we manage performance levels of the economy and the income expected.
Reasonable performance, but there are still shortcomings
Another point discussed by the deputies was the liquidation of the state budget at the end of 2012. In presenting the Report on the State Budget settlement for that year, Lina Pedraza Rodriguez, Minister of Finance and Prices, said that such execution is recorded in the midst of adverse conditions due to the effect of rising food prices in the world market, the tightening of the U.S. blockade, and the impacts of the global economic crisis of capitalism.
She reported net revenue to the State Budget is executed one hundred percent, though there were defaults on contributions from sales of building materials and agricultural inputs, uncommitted sales achieved, which was offset by revenue collection released on product sales, from the domestic industry, which overachieved.
The proceeds from concept of Income taxes that are associated directly to the business efficiency obtained were exceeded. However, the expected levels in the Ministries of Internal Trade and Agriculture and on the Boards of Directors of the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Havana and Las Tunas were not achieved. And, revenue from the State Investment Performance was more than 570 million, down, mainly due to the creation of voluntary reserves higher than expected.
Through the Personal Income Tax 870 million pesos was propduced to the budget. The contributions from the self-employment and other forms of non-state management maintained their upward trend, mainly, in their participation in local budgets.
However, problems are evident in the fiscal discipline of individuals. The National Tax Administration Office, through audits conducted, determined debts amounting to about 10 million pesos, and among the causes are included the failure of payment of taxes on time, underreporting of income to pay less taxes and the illegal practice of activities in order to avoid obligations
Still, we managed to close the year with the fiscal deficit approved by the Budget Act, which represents 3.8 percent of GDP. Discrete overachievements were achieved in several areas that allowed compliance of tax revenues at 100.7 percent. However, the minister of the MFP noted that there are still many potential reserves of revenue in the budget, both in taxable items as in other contributions.
Pedraza emphasized, as an essential task, the deepening in the control of the state budget on different scales and in reducing expenses in budgeted activity.
The minister said that to ensure adequate control of the state budget, they continue working and studying in depth the methodological issues through phased implementation of Governmental Accounting and updating the procedure for verification of expenditures at all levels, among other actions made in the period.
She noted that the budget performance shows weaknesses in the planning and in the quality of accounting budgeted units and enterprises as well as deficiencies that denote superficiality in the analysis of the causes of deviation, revenues and expenditures with respect to activity levels executed. And in this regard, we can see that the internal regulations to control the budget allocated to payments to the self-employed have not been adopted.
The lack of control of material and financial resources remains, and gaps in previous years on the control of the Work and Wages category have been identified and the absence of effective economic contracting.
Breaches of Treasury system procedures were detected and in the financial information that is provided contained errors and is not consistent with the accounting.
Added to this were the existence of breaches of legal rules, inadequacies in the accounting records, absence of updated internal procedures, among other deficiencies, which have been revealed in the results of the audits.
They identify that the main causes and conditions conducive to such results are staff turnover, lack of completeness in the payrolls, inadequate working conditions in the municipal and base units, as well as inadequate technical and managerial training, a situation sustained for years, and it is necessary that at every level solutions are prioritized.
After the filing of the report of the Committee of Economic Affairs by its president, Grisel Castro Alfonso, the deputies undertook a thorough analysis of the challenges to the country’s fiscal policy.
Armando Utrera warned that to strengthen the culture and rigor of controls raising the technical mastery and preparation of specialists of the economic-financial and accounting is required, and at the same time. the preparation and information of the population in such disciplines.
In this regard, the first vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel, stressed the importance of such training to make the transformations that the updating of the Cuban economic model involves. He proposed that the Ministry of Finance and Prices, in conjunction with the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, organize programs and actions for improvement in this regard.
On this, the parliament member Gilberto Andrés Miranda highlighted the ever increasing potential of having higher education increase the self-financing of the sector and generating more revenue to the economy, a development supported by the Higher Education Minister, Rodolfo Alarcon, who said the purpose of the Cuban universities is to lessen the budgetry burden of the country, after the elimination of the obstacles and mechanisms that bind it.
For his part, Rep. Jose Luis Toledo gauged the importance of information, communication and training on an issue as crucial as tax, which can not stick to temporary campaigns and be isolated when they reach settlement times, but must become ongoing and systematic.
Deputy Regla Martinez also said that in order to encourage the culture and rigor of taxes, they must include in these programs priorization of the self-employed, so that those who shirk their duties and do not contribute as unfair competition to the exchequer can be neutralized.
Marino Murillo, Politburo member and head of the Standing Commission for Implementation and Development of the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, subject to consideration of the deputies the progress report of that process.
Parliament received a Hero
René González, the first of the five Cubans who returned to the country after serving unjust sentences in U.S. jails, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, spoke on Saturday at the First Session of the Eighth Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power.
Before that the deputies had observed a minute of silence in tribute to Jaime Crombet, who for 19 years was vice president of the legislative body.
Esteban Lazo, Parliament President invited René to address the deputies. The Hero thanked them for the support of the highest organ of state power of our country to the cause of the Five, and said that this is a commitment by the members and all the people.
The case of the Five is a crime committed against all mankind, and is already 15 years old, he argued. The crime is a deliberate, methodical, not a case of mistaken justice, but those representing the justice of a country using it to protect their terrorists.
I’m here, he said, because we could wrest from the prosecutors and judges a year and half of my supervised release, and for that my father had to die and I had to give up the citizenship of the country where I was born.
This indicates the blindness of the U.S. government with the case of the Five, they are committed to Gerardo dying in prison and that each meets every day of their sentence, he argued.
He stressed that there are no legal considerations that will correct this injustice. This is a political case for revenge against Cuba and its people, and only international pressure on the U.S. government can make it untenable to continue this injustice.
René said, on behalf of his four brothers still prisoners, that their dignity will never be compromised. If we have resisted so far, it has been with morality, that which is our people have and that prosecutors may never understand.
But that’s not enough, he argued, we must bring them back to be with their family, with their people, and that will not succeed if international public opinion does not commit to it.
The Assembly announced a call to the parliamentarians of the world to support the cause of the Five, in which they also appreciated the solidarity shown in this subject by many honest people who have already joined this struggle.
Also on this day the deputies approved the creation of the Standing Committees and their main officials.
These ten commissions, involving 355 deputies engaged in analysing, proposing and providing input on the highest governance body, with its ongoing work between plenary sessions, and performing their work divided by topics of interest to the Cuban economy and society.
Some 80 parliamentary friendship groups were also made, which reciprocate with those that exist in other countries. That is five more than in the previous term, and in total 400 deputies are included.
Maritime, River and Lake Law Approved
The Law of Shipping, River and Lake was approved on Saturday by the Cuban parliament, after an analysis that suggested some modifications to the project, and that did not ignore the idea expressed by the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, that any law that comes into forceshould do so with the corresponding Regulation.
The House approved the proposal that the Act, accompanied by Regulation, expected to come into force within 90 days from its passage through Parliament.
At this point in the agenda, the Minister of Transport, Cesar Ignacio Arocha, presented the Bill, and in doing so, reminded them that the first works related to this type of law were made in late 1989, between the National Department of the Harbormaster’s Office and the Ministry of Transport.
The minister said the main problems that supported the need for a Navigation Act, including the lack of maritime legislation in line with the economic, political and social changes occurring in the national and international stage, “since the Cuban Maritime Law was governed by outdated legal instruments.”
Another argument that supported the need for this type of legislation, Arocha said, was the significant increase in vessels for various reasons tacitly abandoned by their owners at port facilities or in Cuban waters. Similarly weighed the need to support the implementation of international maritime treaties and conventions to which Cuba is a party, with a higher standard of legal hierarchy.
The deputy and lawyer Jose Luis Toledo Santander read the draft opinion of the Committees on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Care and Services, concerning the Navigation Bill. In his speech, he said that the legal standard under discussion develops implements and Guidelines 269, 270 and 273 of the Economic and Social Policy derived from the Sixth Party Congress, alluding to recovery, modernization and reorganization of shipping, use of the advantages of cabotage, and development of national merchant fleet and shipbuilding.
The deputies had conducted a thorough examination of the Bill prior to regional meetings, which had its continuity during the analysis of the parliamentary committees held on Thursday and Friday last.
Translated by ESTI
(acn) The development and prospects of the use of renewable energy sources in Cuba will capture, from today until Friday, the attention of the participants at the 12th World Wind Energy Conference.
This event, based in the Havana Conventions Centre, will also exhibit the Cuban achievements in this area, which allow the replacement of a portion of the fossil fuels used in electricity generation.
As is traditional in the meetings of the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA), experts from its various working groups will show results and challenges, Conrado Moreno , president of the organizing committee, told reporters.
The involvement of universities and scientific institutions in the search for solutions to the oil depletion and the rise of the international financial crisis will be announced to the more than 600 delegates from 40 countries.
UN entities, such as UNDP , UNESCO and UNIDO, will attend this global forum.
The event’s program includes the presentation of members of ¨La Colmenita¨ children group who will perform allegorical acts to environmental protection and the use of renewable energy sources.
(Prensa Latina) Cuba will show its progress at the 12th Congress of the World Wind Energy Association and Renewable Energy Exhibition (WWEC2013), which begins today at the Conference Center in Havana.
The theme of the event, specially focused on the Caribbean and Central America region, is “Opening the Doors to Caribbean Wind”, with presentations, exchanges, and discussions of knowledge on wind energy and renewable energy sources in general, according to organizers.
Cuba plans to build at least 10 percent of its electricity generation through alternative sources by 2030, according to Dr. Conrado Moreno, director of the Center of Study for Renewable Energy Technologies.
Over the past few years, Cuba has increased its development of wind-based energy and renewable energy in general, and despite being at an economic disadvantage with other countries, has a program that it will be exhibiting during sessions of this international meeting, starting today through June 5.
The objective of WWEC2013 is to support the development of integrated strategies in business, government and local communities, to harness the immense potential of wind energy and other renewable energy sources, according to the organizing committee.
The program includes panels and presentations focused on models, business, politics, finance, regional integration of renewable energy sources, technology, human resources training, among others.
The World Wind Energy Association (WWEA), the Center of Study for Renewable Energy Technologies of the Jose Antonio Echeverria Polytechnic Institute in Havana, the Ministry of Basic Industry, and the Latin American Wind Energy Association, among others, are organizing this event.
The President of the Cuban Councils of State and Ministers, Raul Castro, stressed the saving of material resources as the main income source of Cuban economy, which is not always regarded to as such.
During a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Friday, Raul Castro said that the solution to the country’s problems cannot be based on importing products, which can be produced on the island.
The meeting analyzed vital issues for the update of the Cuban economic model, as participants agreed that the actions must focus local limitations and inefficiency in domestic sectors.
Raul insisted in the training of directives and workers who, in the end of the day, are the ones that implement every measure approved, in order to boost the dynamics of the process.
Mistakes usually lead to the loss of millions, said Raul as he referred to the problems that the country’s investment process has faced over the past few years.
Economy minister Adel Yzquierdo presented the principles of a policy designed to improve the country’s investment programs, which aims at updating and unifying legal regulations on the issue in an effort to improve efficiency.
Yzquierdo referred to a series of difficulties related to the under-exploitation of human capacities, the lack of the necessary authority of investors and inappropriate contracting procedures.
The policy drawn up by the Council of Ministers describes investors as the main actor of the whole investment process, which must be integrally assessed, including the productive chains and all management modalities.
The meeting also addressed the strategy for the efficient use of equipment and tools. In this regards, Raul Castro insisted in the need to recover and repair used equipment and meet maintenance schedules.
The members of the Council of Ministers approved a proposal on the performance and structure of the Food Industry Ministry. The structural changes include the separation of state from entrepreneurial functions in the ministry, which includes the food and the fishing industries.
The meeting also approved legal strategies to keep reinstating the order in Cuban society. Justice minister Esther Reus said that the new policy concentrates in a single legal norm that includes all behaviors that constitute violations, as well as the measures or fines to be imposed, since at present there are over 80 legal regulations, a fact that leads to contradictions and a large dispersion of legal norms.
The head of the Implementation and Development Commission, Marino Murillo, explained about the commercialization of agricultural products based on a new experience underway in the western provinces of Havana, Artemisa and Mayabeque.
Murillo said that centralized prices are being applied to the collection of a group of staples, while farms can directly sell produce to state entities, to get rid of middle actors, and after meeting their contracts, these producers can sell their goods to third parties.
Murillo also referred to the performance of a wholesale market, where state entities can get their products, and he said that agricultural markets, which sell produce to the population, will be managed by the state and by cooperative farms.
The country’s General Comptroller Gladys Bejerano referred to main control actions carried out in 2012, whose results are very important to address major causes for inefficiency, indiscipline, illegalities and corruption acts.
Bejerano described as crucial the action and training of executives and managers, since they are committed to their duties and legality.
The export of services have become the main hard currency source for the country, with huge potential for its further development, said Foreign Trade and Investment minister Rodrigo Malmierca during the meeting.
In this regard, the Cuban President acknowledged the noble work of Cuban doctors, who have gained prestige around the world, since they go to those places where nobody else go to assist the people.
The Foreign Trade and Investment minister also addressed irregularities in the operations of some businesses set up with foreign capital and on international contracts, which have affected the country’s economy. Major causes for these problems are related to lack of control in the businesses, as well as misbehaviors and inappropriate attitudes by directives and officials involved, either due to lack of knowledge, incapacity or ethical violations.
Addressing other problems, Economy minister Adell Yzquierdo referred to criminal actions affecting the commercialization of fuel. The theft of fuel takes place in refineries, transportation centers, and gas stations due to lack of control and equipment, or the uncertified use of such fuel dispensing instruments.
The minister referred to individuals who, after illegally getting the fuel, benefit from its illegal traffic by reselling it at about 60 percent below the official prices. In order to face this situation, Yquierdo mentioned measures such as a progressive upgrading of fuel collection, storage and distribution systems, the verification of measurement equipment, the conclusion of investment projects in local refineries aimed at increasing control and automation levels in loading stations, among others.
Also on the agenda was the ongoing processing of information collected during the latest Population and Housing Census. In this regard, Marino Murillo, announced that all activities are going at good pace and that the definitive figures will be handed over to the government as scheduled, on June 30.
ACN – Habana may 13
W. Lippmann comments:
Many interesting elements in this report. Notice that the theft
of gasoline has become a problem again. This time they aren’t
talking about putting social workers out at the gas stations
and other distribution points was done the last time around.
Here’s the long GRANMA feature on which this ACN report is based:
José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), sent a congratulatory letter to Fidel Castro, historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, from Rome, Italy, on April 29, which we reproduce in full below:
I have the honor to address you in my capacity as Director-General of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), to sincerely congratulate you and all the Cuban people for having fulfilled the goal set in advance by the World Food Summit, held in Rome in November 1996, and that he proposed to halve the number of undernourished people in each country by the year 2015.
As you may recall, you honored us with his presence in that Summit and delivered a brief but powerful speech, which still lingers in the collective memory of our Organization. You concluded by saying: “the bells that toll today for those who die of hunger every day, will toll tomorrow for humanity if it refused, failed or could not be wise enough to save them.” And they say that you said in the press conference that followed the Summit that even if the target were achieved we would not know what to say to the other half of humanity if it would not be freed from the scourge of hunger. They are concepts that until today still retain its meaning and value.
It’s been 17 years since then and now I have the great pleasure to inform you that the decision of its members and for the first time in its history, the FAO Conference, to be held next June in Rome, take the total eradication hunger as the number one goal of our Organization.
At that time, we will pay a tribute to Cuba and 15 other countries that have been most successful in reducing hunger. To all of them we will give a certificate of recognition for having met the target of the Summit in advance. The countries that accompany Cuba are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chile, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Besides reiterating my congratulations on the significant success achieved by your country, I wish you well-being and success for you and all the Cuban people.
Yours with great esteem and appreciation,
José Graziano da Silva
Cuba met most of the United Nations Millennium Goals, in spite of the immense economic and social cost of the U.S. blockade against the island, points out a report published by the Human Rights Council.
In 2012, its infant mortality rate was 4.6 per every 1,000 live births, the lowest of Latin America, while maternal mortality rate was 21.5 per every 100,000, among the lowest internationally, specified the text, adding that Cuba will present its Universal Periodic Study on May 1 st.
The Caribbean island guarantees universal and free access to public health and its vaccination program has one of the widest coverage in the world, since it allows for the prevention of 13 diseases.
In spite of the restrictions imposed by the U.S. blockade on the island for the purchase of resources and technologies, the country deepened research work on vaccines against cholera, dengue and HIV and prioritizes plans of high impact, among them those of cardiology, cancer, nephrology and the transplant of organs.
In addition, Cuba also reached the millennium goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and achieving universal primary teaching.
Cuba was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.