Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
7:35 AM EDT, April 28, 2008
Cuba's new government on Sunday announced raises for pensioners and
court employees, the first pay hikes in three years.
Beginning next month, more than 2.1 million retirees will receive
pension increases of about $2 a month, raising minimum monthly pensions
to about $9.50, the government said in a statement published in the
state-run press. Some retirees will see their monthly benefits increase
to about $19.
Additionally, more than 9,000 court employees will receive raises of
about $10 a month, with judges and prosecutors getting monthly raises of
roughly $18, the statement said.
The announcement, made days before International Workers Day on May 1,
promised additional pay hikes with better economic times.
"It is not possible to increase salaries to all labor sectors, given
that the country does not have the necessary resources," the statement
said. "Increases will be granted by sector and priority, always after a
rigorous evaluation of economic and financial conditions."
State wages are mainly paid in pesos, even though that state sells many
goods and services in hard currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, the
convertible peso, which is worth 24 times more than the peso.
About 90 percent of the communist island's economy is controlled by the
state, which employs the majority of the country's 11 million
inhabitants and provides all pensions.
Raul Castro, who officially took over the Cuban presidency last February
from his ailing brother Fidel, has said that state salaries are barely
enough to live on. Most Cubans live rent-free and the state provides
free education, health care and rations cards for some food.