By Glenda Boza Ibarra (El Toque)
HAVANA TIMES – Organized by Havana University’s Business Network and the Public Administration Academy, the first “Governance, from a public-private alliance perspective in Cuba” conference took place in the capital, on Thursday. Municipal government authorities, entrepreneurs and academics took part in the event.
According to a post on entrepreneur Oniel Diaz Castellanos’ Facebook page, attendees expressed their willingness during the dialogue to create public-private sector ties and to increase collaborative efforts.
“Government authorities recognized their resistance to change when it comes to forming partnerships with the self-employed at a local level,” Diaz Castellanos wrote.
They also identified the fact that “the private sector needs to be seen as a favorable change within the country and that we have to be active in our relationship with them.”
“It wasn’t a sit-down for venting,” Adriana Ricardo said, who is the project manager for Artecorte. “We entrepreneurs went with clear and concrete proposals, specific questions about different issues.”
The importance of the private sector paying tax to help sustain social services in the country was debated during the meeting.
Talking about this matter, Diaz Castellanos said that business owners spoke about the need to revise established progressive tax rates and the importance of knowing what local development goals are so they can contribute towards these efforts.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Diaz added that there are many niches within the public sector that can be taken advantage of and that “private” business owners want to know what the government needs and how it is that they can take concrete action to help.
“Self-employed people have always been frowned upon, as if they were trying to evade the law to fill their pockets. This became clear when we demanded reasonable and cautious legislation and regulations, as well as a legal status, and the ability to organize ourselves so that doesn’t hinder, limit or attack our business,” Ricardo Diaz pointed out. “We also need more transparent processes because, sometimes, the government pulls initiatives “from out of its sleeve” and doesn’t tell us how they were created.”
Oniel Diaz Castellanos also posted on his Facebook page that entrepreneurs present at the conference criticized corruption and bureaucracy and demanded that there be public tenders to choose providers for local and public contracts. They also expressed their willingness to contribute towards exports that the country needed and stressed the importance of establishing regular meetings so that both parties can keep communication going.
“We also need to be open-minded and accept their questions, to inform them of what we are doing,” young entrepreneur Adriana said. “We have to do away with the preconceptions we have about each other and understand the wealth of projects that Cuba has.”
Entrepreneur Yusef Garcia also posted about the meeting and said that untangling different processes and seeking partnerships would have positive results on national economic progress and the wellbeing of society, be these large or small results. The important thing is that there is an intention to work together to carry out each proposal or action, which will lead to economic and human progress and development.
“The Government isn’t doing the private sector a favor by forming alliances,” government authorities stated, according to Diaz Castellanos’ post. “We are obliged to do this and ready to identify the barriers that exist at a local level for the private sector, so that we can break them down.”
Developers, event organizers, consultants, designers, business owners and employees linked to gastronomy and mechanics’, community project managers, etc. all attended the meeting.
“It was a good first step,” Adriana Ricardo pointed out. “This space for dialogue was something we’ve been requesting for a long time and we are grateful to the Public Administration Academy for making it a reality. That doesn’t mean to say that the private sector’s problems will magically be resolved, but the ball has started to roll which might even travel to other provinces.”