Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cuban growth rate falls short of forecast

Cuban growth rate falls short of forecast
Saturday December 29, 03:19 PM

Havana, Dec 29 (IANS) Cuba registered a growth rate of 7.5 percent
against an official forecast of 10 percent with both agriculture and
construction sectors badly hit by weather, Economy Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez has said, Spain's EFE agency reported Saturday.

Rodriguez, tabling the economic survey report and budgetary policy at
the plenary session of the country's parliament Thursday, said the
economy performed well in 2007 despite a nearly 24 percent hike in the
cost of imported food and an increase of more than seven percent in oil

Cuba, which reported growth of 12.5 percent in 2006, expected its
economy to slow down to 10 percent but remain among the strongest in the
region, an official report in March this year had said.

Its vital tourism industry felt the pinch this year owing to a warm
European winter and cheaper destinations elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Although the economy grew at a rate less than expected, the minister
said, 'This level of growth is significant.' He pointed out that exports
of goods and services were up 24.8 percent as compared with a 2 percent
increase in imports.

The minister offered no statistics on the tourism sector, one of the
country's chief sources of revenue, which, according to a report by
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, grew by 6.3 percent.

Cuba's Communist Party government calculates its GDP using a formula
that takes into account the broad range of public services provided to
citizens at no cost.

Though many contend Havana's economic statistics are unreliable,
Rodriguez said Friday that Cuba's current GDP gauge is 'perfectly
comparable to that of any country in the world.'

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