Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lowering the price of milk does not satisfy buyers

Lowering the price of milk does not satisfy buyers / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on April 28, 2015

14ymedio, Rosa Lopez, Havana, 28 April 2015 – In Cuba it is cheaper to
buy a liter of rum than a kilo of powdered milk. Ever since convertible
currency stores appeared in the nineties, people have been demanding
price reductions for basic products. In its Monday edition, the
Communist Party newspaper Granma announced a price reduction for
powdered milk, but the measure has not been met with the satisfaction
the authorities expected.

The new measure reduces the price of kilo of powdered milk by 15% in the
hard currency stores. Now a kilo (2.2 pounds) costs 5.50 or 5.75
convertible pesos (CUCs), and a half kilo cost 2.90 or 2.80, depending
on the quality of the container. The reduction, which went into effect
on April 24, ranges from 0.45 to 0.85 CUC per packet, and is derived
from "updating import costs," according to sources at the Ministry of
Finance and Prices.

The price adjustment benefits only the small sector of Cubans who can
afford to pay the equivalent of what the average worker earns in four
days for this product. Everyone else has to abstain from drinking milk
or resort to the black market, where it is sold for a little less than
half the official price.

In the store attached to a gas station located at the corner of Boyeros
and Ayestaran Streets, several customers browsed on the Monday of the
publicized price reduction, which so far has not set off any buying
frenzy. The parishioners were wary and disappointed by how small the
price reduction was for this basic food.

Caridad Rojas has twin three-year-olds and the milk quota assigned to
them in the ration market isn't enough. After reading the note in
Granma, she went to the closest store to buy milk at the new prices.
"The truth is, what they have done is return to almost the same price
from before last year's huge price increase."

The unpopularity of the measure adopted in 2014 could be one of the
reasons the authorities decided to lower the price of the product. "They
greatly reduced sales with the increase in prices, so in the end the
State ended up losing money," said an employee at the Carlos III
commercial center, one of the largest supermarkets in Havana.

Meanwhile, milk continues to be distributed in the usual way to children
under seven and to patients prescribed special diets at subsidized
prices in the ration market. The rest of the buyers will confront the
prices of the "hard currency" stores, where they can also pay in
national pesos at an exchange rate of 1 CUC to 25 CUP (Cuban pesos, or
"moneda nacional" – national money).

Source: Lowering the price of milk does not satisfy buyers / 14ymedio,
Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba -

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