Friday, November 25, 2011

Farm Sales Reformed

Cuba OKs direct farm sales to tourism sector

By: The Associated Press | 11/21/11 12:20 PM

The Cuban government is authorizing farmers to sell their products directly to state-run tourist hotels and restaurants, eliminating the need to go through a government redistributor, authorities said Monday.

The measure also lets buyers and sellers negotiate their own prices, according to the Official Gazette, a government publication that disseminates new laws.

The latest in a series of economic changes pushed by President Raul Castro, it aims to "reduce losses by simplifying the links between primary production and the final consumer," according to the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Beginning Dec. 1, independent growers, rural co-ops and state-run agribusinesses will be able to sell "agricultural products without industrial processing, rice for consumption and charcoal to hotel and restaurant establishments in the tourism sector," the Gazette said.

Payments will be collected in Cuban pesos, valued at 24 to the U.S. dollar, rather than the convertible currency, currently one-to-one with the greenback.

The measure does not authorize direct sales to the growing ranks of private restaurants and other small businesses that have mushroomed across the island as part of Castro's economic overhaul.

The government also recently legalized the sale of homes and automobiles for the first time since shortly after the 1959 revolution and is planning to slash state payrolls. Last week, the government reported a major reorganization of the sugar industry to eliminate bureaucracy.

Tourism is one of Cuba's top sources of foreign income, bringing in about $2 billion a year.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

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