HAVANA TIMES — Cuban Customs begins to enforce today the new highly controversial regulations that further limit what travelers can bring into the country, amid the rejection of the population. The measure is geared to protecting the government/military monopoly on domestic commerce.
Any traveler can enter the island with 25 kilos of personal luggage customs free which can add up to 100 kilos of assorted items, which would pay import duties.
The novelty is in the customs tariffs on products considered “miscellaneous” such as electronics and appliances, in addition to the reduction in the number of items that can be entered.
For example, until now a passenger could enter the island 100 disposable razors, now reduced to 20, the limit of 40 pairs of pants is now down to ten.
One of the most popular products is imported televisions, whose importation fee goes for example from 150 to 250 pesos on a 32-inch flat screen set.
On their first trip abroad Cubans pay customs duties in regular pesos (CUP), while in the following entries they must pay in the hard currency CUC, a convertible currency with international currencies exchanged for 24 CUP.
On the island, most of the products in stores (run by the military or the government) are sold in CUC, while almost all citizens receive their wages in CUP.
The new regulations have been criticized even in the official press, reporting citizen dissatisfaction that the customs changes do not attack the root problems of shortages of many basic consumer products, a lack of a wholesale market to supply the self-employed and the inflated prices in the network of state/military retail stores.
However, Idalmis Rosales, the deputy head of Customs, told the press: “The measures are to prevent certain persons from using non-commercial importation limits in order to enter high volumes of goods for marketing and profit.”