“You have to hear every silly thing in this country!” / Cubanet, Orlando Freire Santana
Posted on March 30, 2015
A letter published in the official Granma by one its readers asks the
State to limit the prices charged by the self-employed in order to
protect “the working people from abusive prices”
Cubanet.org, Orlando Freire Santana, Havana, 27 March 2015 –
Notwithstanding the image that the Castro regime strives to present
about small, private enterprise, in the sense of having expanded this
activity as part of the economic transformations that are taking place
on the island, the truth is that the non-state sector of the economy
faces more than a few obstacles.
High taxes, lack of a wholesale market where supplies and raw materials
can be acquired, the lack of recognition by the authorities of the total
costs that private businesses incur, as well as the excess of audits of
Sworn Personal Income Statements, among others, are some of the daily
hurdles that stand in the way of the self-employed.
Last Friday, March 20, the newspaper Granma published two works that
contain “recommendations” that could obstruct or kill self-employment.
The first of these, “Money Well Paid?” is a report about the payments by
state entities to self-employed workers in the Holguin province.
The very title of the report – with that question mark included –
already allows a glimpse of the distrust of those kinds of transactions,
that in the past year reached 36 million pesos. The Holguin authorities
insist that state entities must exhaust all options that the providers
from the government sector offer when acquiring goods or services. And
only lastly to approach the self-employed workers.
The state payments to the self-employed in the referenced territory,
with a view to exhaustive control, must pass through a bureaucratic
structure that includes the Government Central Auditor Unit, the
Commission of Charges and Payments, and the Provincial Administration
Council. And by the way, what becomes of the highly vaunted
“entrepreneurial autonomy” if the entrepreneurs can barely decide from
whom to buy what they need?
The other material featured in Granma is the letter from a reader, “For
the excessive desire to obtain greater riches,” in which he complains of
the prices charged by the self-employed who entertain children in the
Palmira township in Cienfuegos. In addition to that specific situation,
the writer of the missive extends his criticism to all the self-employed
and says in one paragraph: “I think that the Administration Councils,
municipal as well as provincial, must control the prices of the
offerings by the self-employed, protecting the working people from
abusive prices and giving those people a legal foundation on which to
demand their rights.”
It should be emphasized that an opinion of this kind, appearing in an
official organ of the Communist Party, cannot be underestimated in any
way. So began the attacks against the self-employed who sold home
products, to those who were called “retailers.” In the end, that
activity was prohibited, and many self-employed who used to hold those
licenses lost them and were left unemployed.
When I commented to a café owner in my neighborhood about the Granma
reader’s letter, the man reacted indignantly: “Don’t tell
me…self-employed prices are abusive…Listen to me, abusive is the tax
that I pay, which they have raised on me three times; abusive is that I
spend more than 50% of my revenues on buying everything that I need to
work, and the people from ONAT [the State tax collector] only recognize
25% as expense; and abusive was the fine that they imposed on me last
year, of several thousand pesos, when they deemed that I had
under-reported personal income. You have to hear every silly thing in
About the Author
Orlando Freire. Matanzas, 1959. Graduate in Economics. He has published
the book of essays, The Evidence of Our Time, Vitral Prize 2005, and the
novel The Blood of Liberty, Franz Kafka Novels From the Drawer Prize,
2008. He also earned Essay and Story prizes from the magazine The
Universal Dissident, and the Essay Prize from the magazine New Word.
Source: “You have to hear every silly thing in this country!” / Cubanet,
Orlando Freire Santana | Translating Cuba -