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In Cuban its Necessary Adjustments Economic
Rodriguez made the announcement on Monday as he addressed the Cuban Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee about the state of the nation’s economy and the results of a comprehensive study on consumer expenditure and others related to commercial retail products to avoid an internal financial imbalance, Granma daily reported.

Reporting about growth indicators in different economic sectors in comparison to last year, the minister said that Agriculture grew 7.5 percent; Industry, 6.2 percent; Tourism, between 14 and 15 percent; and strong growth was recorded in construction and energy investment. Rodriguez said that salary averages increased by 4.6 percent while productivity only rose by 3.5 percent.

During the meeting, the committee approved the final report of the 2007 budget, which showed a fiscal deficit of 3.2 percent of the GDP. The committee also received an explanation on the implementation of this year’s budget through May from the first vice minister of Finance and Prices, Alejandro Gil.

Antonio Carricarte, first vice minister of Foreign Commerce, spoke to the legislators on the import replacement program through May. He explained that of the 718 products involved, 660 have contracts signed. Meanwhile, he reported progress in the implementation of financing mechanisms by way of the centralized account and commercial credits, as well as projects via foreign investment.

Cuba Strives for Increasing Food Production to Replace Imports

A modest but promising increase in the domestic production of foodstuffs usually imported was reported on Monday by the Cuban Parliament Food and Agriculture Committee.

“This is just the beginning of a program that must overcome numerous organizational limitations and obstacles and make better use of available resources to obtain a better second semester,” said Committee President Leonardo Martinez, Granma newspaper reported.

The committee members agreed on the need to develop a sound incentive and supply policy for farmers and, above all, consolidate advances to avoid backtracking.

Early results in milk and pork production (20,000 tons more than the same period last year) reflect how much can be done if intelligence, experience and local traditions are involved in the effort.

Mantua, Calimete, Aguada de Pasajeros, La Sierpe, Vertientes and Yara are some of the municipalities taking part in an experimental rice self-sufficiency project.

Officials from the ministries of Agriculture and Sugar as well as the co-op and individual farm sectors said the goal is to gradually increase production so that by 2013 harvests reach 56 percent of the rice that the country consumes.

The great challenge to develop rice production is to promote the so-called non-specialized sector and put in practice, where needed, the manual methods traditionally used by small rice growers.

The distribution and direct sale of milk, which now covers more than 2,000 neighborhood grocery stores, continues to increase and create new challenges. More than 70 of Cuba’s 169 municipalities are in the program. Agriculture officials told the committee that by the end of June the amount of fresh milk sold directly to consumers in the first semester of 2008 equals 4,500 tons of imported milk powder.

Tomato and fruit production for processing and beans were above the levels for the same period in 2007. However, the totals are still far from what is needed to completely substitute imports.

A unification of the price paid for certain farm products and marketing via municipal agriculture offices were other matters discussed by the parliamentary food and agriculture committee.

(Radio Rebelde)

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