HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government said today that the recently announced decision allowing for the open market sale of new cars will take effect as of this Friday, reported dpa news.
The move, announced on 19 December, authorizes government dealers to offer imported cars to the general public at “market prices” without the need for special permission.
The new provisions repealing the old restrictions on “the purchase of motor vehicles” was published on Wednesday in the Official Gazette of Cuba.
Until now, Cubans, foreigners living on the island or state or foreign companies needed a “letter of authorization” to purchase a new vehicle.
For decades it was not possible in Cuba to buy new vehicles. The Fidel Castro led government abolished the free automotive market shortly after the triumph of the 1959 revolution. During the long period that followed it awarded some cars to officials and doctors.
In October 2011, Raul Castro’s government liberalized the sale of used cars between private individuals. Previously that had only been legally possible for cars made before 1960.
The cars in Cuba are known for being of the most antiquated in the world. On the streets of Havana abound old pre-revolution USA-made cars, and Soviet models like the Lada. Lately they have also begun to be more Chinese Geelys.
Cumbersome procedures to obtain a “letter of authorization” favored the emergence of a black market in recent years, the government itself acknowledged. The “letters” were often resold informally for up to several thousand dollars.
State companies will be responsible for importing new vehicles, according to the provisions. It is estimated that prices will increase with the entry into force of the reform.
The automotive market liberalization seeks among other things to improve the poor public transport, the government said, using the high mark up to be placed on the vehicles for sale.