HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government estimated a 1.1 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) during the first half of this year, after posting a negative balance in 2016, reported dpa news today based on official sources.
“The Gross Domestic Product, at the end of the first half of the year, is estimated to grow by around 1.1 percent,” Ricardo Cabrisas, Minister of Economy and Planning, said in a parliamentary session.
The Cuban economy thus shows a slight recovery as it is managed to stop the decline experienced in 2016, when GDP decreased by 0.9 percent.
The Cuban Economy Minister said that the sectors that had a positive impact on economic performance were tourism, construction, transport, communications and non-sugarcane agriculture, the Cuban News Agency reported.
In contrast, Cabrisas said that the first half of the year was marked by “an unfavorable situation with the availability of foreign exchange and fuels.”
Foreign revenues were US $ 417 million less than forecast, while imports were over $1.5 billion less than planned.
Cabrisas pointed out the causes of the negative indicators were “the difficulties in the use of credits, limitation in the allocation of liquidity, debts on letters of credit due and not paid, and shortcomings in the procurement process,” reported the Cuban News Agency.
The data was provided during the first annual ordinary meeting of the National Assembly, in which Cuban President Raul Castro participates.
Cuba closed 2016 with a decrease of its GDP for the first time in 23 years. The causes of the negative data were justified in the smaller exports and in the economic difficulties of allies like Venezuela, which is the main supplier of oil to the island.
The Venezuelan political and economic crisis affects Cuba due to the limited sale of crude oil to the island through soft loans and also to the difficulty of Caracas for the contracting of professional services of Cuban doctors, educators and trainers for Venezuelan social programs.
Cabrisas said that despite the tense national economic situation, the commitments made following the re-ordering of the external debt with the Paris Club creditor countries are being fulfilled.
In the first half of 2017, Cuba paid US $2.306 billion to creditors, with priority in the rearrangement of debts from previous periods, Cabrisas told the deputies.