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Friday, June 09, 2017

Electricity consumption figures are bad news

Electricity consumption figures are bad news
ELÍAS AMOR | Valencia | 9 de Junio de 2017 - 12:37 CEST.

The National Statistical Office of Cuba (ONEI) has just published an
interesting report on activity in the Energy sector under the Castro
economy in 2016, entitled"Electricity in Cuba: Selected Indicators,
January-December 2016."

We are already in mid 2017 and there is still important information
missing to make possible a thorough analysis of the island's economic
situation, such that any information offered by the authorities, however
meager, is appreciated.

The publication was presented with great care. And, given the close
relationship between energy consumption and economic activity, present
and future – which we know, based on official data from the regime, has
been waning since the middle of last year - the information published by
the ONEI has presented is of extraordinary interest, as it gives us a
more precise idea of ​​the magnitude of the collapse of Cuba's economic
activity, and makes it possible to evaluate medium term forecasts.

According to data provided by the ONEI, electricity consumption in Cuba
was 15,182 gigawatt hours in 2016. The data itself does not say much if
it is not compared to that from the previous year. The first thing that
stands out is that the aforementioned ONEI publication fails to mention
the data from the year prior. No matter. We looked in Cuba's Statistical
Yearbook 2015 and (surprise!) found that electricity consumption that
year was at 20,288 gigawatt hour.

That is, in a single year, of deep recession, and which some of us
estimate places us on the verge of something resembling the Special
Period, the consumption of electricity in Cuba plummeted 25.2%, a
quarter of that consumed the previous year. This drop is so sharp that
the current phase of economic contraction can be considered one of the
most serious in the last 20 years. A slump of this magnitude paralyzes
and calls into question the entire process entailed by the government's
"Guidelines and Conceptualizations" and other gibberish. And what is
worse, the figure is bad enough to suggest that in the coming months it
may get even worse.

If consumption is broken down by its two main components, State and
private, it may be observed how they saw different dynamics in the
period in question.

State consumption, which represents a whopping 43% of the total (which
gives one an idea of ​​the State's massive impact on the Cuban economy
under Castro), fell 29.6%, four percentage points more than the mean,
from 8,648.5 gigawatt hours in 2015 to 6,085.8 gigawatt hours in 2016.
In an economy like Castro's, in which a good portion of the goods and
services provided the population are produced in the State sector, this
is not a good figure. Quite the opposite.

Private consumption, meanwhile, including residential, saw a moderate
increase, going from 8,468.3 gigawatt hours in 2015 to 8,792.1 gigawatt
hours in 2016, up 3.8%.

This uneven behavior between the two indicators confirms that the regime
is preventing the economic collapse from crushing individuals, through
discriminatory policies to avert a social revolt, as the State remains
the fundamental cornerstone the economy, suffering a severe drop in
electricity consumption, with its ensuing repercussions in terms of
reduced activity, past and future.

Analysts of the situation know that the collapse in the total
consumption of electric energy is indicative of a recession, and can
see, via comparison with the historical figures offered by ONEI, that
the consumption recorded in 2016 was down to the level of the distant
year 2000, when the figure stood at 15,032.2 gigawatt hour. That is,
electricity consumption has fallen to the same level as 16 years ago.

From then until 2015, save for a brief hiccup from 2004 to 2005, annual
electricity consumption had been increasing at an average rate of 2.3%,
from the above figure to 20,288 gigawatt hours in 2015. Thus, the sharp
fall recorded in 2016 breaks what had been an upward trend, and will
have particularly negative consequences on the design and implementation
of economic policies.

The dependence on oil from Venezuela, and having failed to foresee and
prepare for the interruption in shipments currently being suffered, and
the lack of a strategy to implement renewable energies on the Island,
are behind these dreadful figures, which threaten economic growth and
promise more hardships and high prices for Cubans.

Worst of all is that the worst, apparently, is yet to come, with some
predicting it will hit in a few months, such that Cubans will have to
tighten their belts even more. The electricity consumption figures
indicate that an economic standstill is imminent.

Source: Electricity consumption figures are bad news | Diario de Cuba -
http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1497004671_31760.html
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