The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), analyzed government management in the initial session of its annual conference
By Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES – With the title “Economic challenges of the new government of Cuba,” former professor of the University of Havana Omar Everleny, reviewed the essential issues facing President Diaz-Canel, in a presentation that opened the XXVIII Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) in Miami. The results of the examination and subsequent debate point to a discouraging scenario for the coming times.
Everleny raised the challenge of overcoming what he called the “plateau of 2% annual growth”, a totally insufficient figure to guarantee the essential step towards the development the Cuban people hope to see from its new government.
As obstacles, the economist pointed to the rising fiscal deficit in addition to the measures that block private initiative, the only sector he sees with concrete contributions to the economy during this decade. Everleny concluded his analysis by reiterating that “growth is not development, but development cannot be aspired without growth of the economy.”
Next, Dagoberto Valdes, controversial and sharp in his usual analysis, proposed ten starting points to consider the evolution of the national economy, starting from the clamor for a democratization of national life as an impetus towards the unavoidable changes demanded by the historic moment.
The proposal is part of a series of studies conducted by the Centro Convivencia, led by Valdes in his native Pinar del Rio. One of the novel conclusions of his presentation was to consider the Vietnamese model as the example that the new government will apparently follow in its eagerness to get Cuba out of a chronic crisis.
Quoting the highest party leader of Vietnam, Valdes recalled: “The market economy alone does not destroy socialism, but you cannot build a prosperous and sustainable socialist economy without a market economy.
Other speakers of the opening day of the important economic institution founded three decades ago in the United States by Cuban exiles, addressed the peculiarities of fruit and vegetable production before 1959, a model whose results should be considered when implementing the reforms that everyone expects, but never seem to arrive.
Participants agreed on the contradiction between the population’s clamor to see results and the apparent government passivity to implement changes. For example, the end of monetary duality, announced several years ago and that now doesn’t seem possible in what remains of 2018. Such inaction does not indicate a resolute response to the urgencies of these times.
At the close, a special moment was the analysis by Colombia University professor and former Finance Minister of Chile, Andrés Velazco. He spoke on economics, populism and identity. Referring to Cuba, he proposed that it will be a challenge of the future to build an authentic national identity, today distorted by the exclusive official discourse under the leadership of the Communist Party.
The ASCE Conference session on Friday, will focus on the issue that may be the one of greatest expectation in the country relating to the economy: the unification of the two currencies. The central theme will be the proposals for exchange rates along with the gradual implementation of such a controversial process for both the state enterprises and the general population.
The most important conclusion, which presides over any evaluation of the reality to come, indicates for the new Cuban government that, between continuity and opportunity, “stubborn reality will hold the truth, a very difficult fact to hide,” said Dagoberto Valdes,
In the coming days Havana Times will bring its readers interviews from Miami, with the protagonists of this conscientious review of the Cuban economy.
Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]