HAVANA, Cuba, December 30, 2008 - As Cuba prepares to face the
challenges arising from the global economic crisis, President Raul
Castro has announced cuts in unnecessary government expenditure as one
of the ways the country will deal with the slowdown.
He said that while Cuba recorded growth this year, there is uncertainty
about how the world economy will perform next year and government
spending will therefore have to be adjusted.
"We must be prepared to face this serious challenge that is affecting us
in a noticeable way," President Castro said as he addressed the closing
session of Parliament over the weekend.
Among the measures which he said were aimed at lowering unnecessary
costs, was the halving of money spent on overseas trips by
representatives of state agencies and enterprises.
Mr Castro added that a number of "inappropriately free-of-charge
opportunities and excessive subsidies" would be considered for
elimination, including highly subsidised holiday programmes for
executives, outstanding workers and other sectors of the population. He
said such programmes now cost the government nearly US$60 million.
The Cuban leader insisted that free opportunities must be limited to
guaranteeing all citizens equal access to education, health care, social
security and assistance, culture and sports.