Cuba Gov. Creates Biotech/Pharmaceutical Conglomerate

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — The Cuba government has approved the creation of a business group that will bring together 38 state companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, two fields on which Raul Castro government is placing much hope.

The “BioCubaFarma” group joins under one roof all those institutions belonging to the Polo Cientifico (Scientific Complex) and Quimefa business group, explained the official Granma newspaper.

The measure, which was approved by the Council of Ministers, comes out of the hope for a new industrial conglomerate to boost the “generation of exportable goods and services,” the newspaper reported. “Its operation is governed by business principles,” it added.

The medical and scientific sectors are historically two of the main stakes of the Cuban government. For decades, former president Fidel Castro promoted the development of the island’s health care and scientific systems.

Cuba has also been trying for a number of years to increase its income from medical services provided abroad and from biotechnology production.

Since coming to power in 2006, Raul Castro has launched several market reforms to “update” the Cuban economic model.

Among these is the restructuring of industries under business principles; for decades these were controlled by the state bureaucracy.

In 2011, Raul Castro announced the demise of the iconic Ministry of Sugar in order to create a business group capable of resurrecting sugar industry, one of the oldest major industries on the island.

The April 2011 Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba institutionalized this reform process of with “guidelines” that, in part, emulate economic adjustment models without political changes such as those implemented by China and Vietnam in past decades.