Cuba’s Parliament Meets in August

HAVANA TIMES, July 16  (IPS) – The Cuban legislature will hold a regular session beginning August 1.  It comes at an extremely complex moment as the country makes adjustments to mitigate the international financial crisis.

The situation has been aggravated by a drop in nickel prices and a decline in tourist revenues, which have forced the government to adjust its forecasts for economic growth down from 6 percent to 2.5 percent.

Since June, Cuba has also implemented a rigorous program of restrictions on electricity consumption due to the over-consumption of fuel used for power generation in the first trimester of this year.

Had that excessive rate of consumption continued, the country would have had to allocate an additional US $100 million in the budget, stated government authorities.

The economic situation was already tense due to the estimated losses of $10 billion dollars in devastation resulting from hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma, which battered the island between August and November of 2008.

In the one chamber parliament’s last session, this past December, President Raul Castro painted a panorama of austerity for the country.

The upcoming year is expected to be marked by much uncertainty in the world economy, shaken by a financial crisis born in the United States.  “We should be prepared to face that serious challenge, which is already affecting us in an appreciable way,” alerted Castro.

The announcement of the legislative session by parliament president, Ricardo Alarcon, did not specifically mention the issues that would be analyzed.  However, it is expected that these will involve an analysis of the performance of the economy at the closing of the first semester, as well as adjustments in the rest of the year’s programs.

Another subject that could be on the agenda is housing related issues, with a discussion around modifications of existing regulations that would eliminate certain restrictions and excess paperwork in that industry.

A Havana Times translation of the original article published in Spanish by IPS.