Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — Between July 4-7, the Cuban National Assembly of the People’s Power (Parliament) held two commission and two plenary sessions, where deputies worked intensely to address a wide range of political, economic and social issues.
These four days of meetings aren’t the only days in which the deputies work, as some believe. Deputies work year-round, addressing the most pressing concerns that arise in those places where they were elected and reviewing documents (such as bills) that will later be discussed at commission and plenary meetings, prior to their approval.
Ten permanent work commissions were approved during the First Period of Regular Sessions of Cuba’s 8th Legislative Assembly. Each of these commissions then set out to discuss the issues of their concern.
While participating in the work of one of these commissions, First Vice-President Miguel Diaz Canel stressed the importance of a deputy’s sensitivity and devotion in the work of addressing the problems faced by the population. This is the spirit with which the deputies of all constituencies, municipalities and provinces work as the representatives of the people before the Parliament.
A quick glance at the names of the parliamentary commissions suffices to realize that the National Assembly is not only a legislative body, but a governing one as well, debating on and analyzing the chief concerns of the population in a broad range of areas.
The commissions are:
1.- Economic Matters
2.- Health and Sports
3.- National Security
4.- International Relations
5.- Agriculture and Food
6.- Industry, Construction Work and Energy
7.- Education, Culture, Science, Technology and the Environment
8.- Youth, Children and Women’s Rights
9.- Constitutional and Juridical Matters
As part of its legislative work, the Assembly prioritized the consultation process for Cuba’s new Labor Code Bill.
As is always the case with laws that have important repercussions among the population, this bill will be presented to workers at union meetings, in order to secure their opinions, before being submitted to the pertinent parliamentary commission for discussion and prior to its approval at the plenary session.
During the first regular session, the new Maritime, River and Lacustrine Navigation Law was also approved. This legal instrument was dearly needed, as activities in the sector had hitherto been regulated by an obsolete legislation.
Deputies also suggested that the assembly prioritize the approval of the new Family Code.
According to the review conducted by the Economic Affairs Commission, Cuba’s economy had a favorable first semester, though it is estimated that the country will not be able to reach the goals set for the year (with a growth estimated at somewhere between 2.5 and 3 percent, against the 3.6 percent planned). The report also estimates that exports will exceed imports this year, meaning a positive balance for the country.
The implementation of the State budget during the first half of the year also proved positive, as incomes exceeded the goal by 4.3 percent and only 92.4 percent of the money destined to investments was spent.
It would be impossible, in the limited space of this article, to enumerate all of the data analyzed during the assembly. What the data shows, in general, is that the situation of Cuba’s economy is favorable, despite the negative impact that hurricane Sandy had in 11 of the country’s provinces at the end of October last year and other damaging external factors
One of the issues that President Raul Castro addressed during his concluding remarks to the Assembly’s was the need to eliminate Cuba’s dual-currency system, which constitutes one of the chief obstacles on the way to economic development.
He commented that progress is being made in the analysis of this complex problem which requires the modification of salaries, pensions, prices, subsidies and taxes, such that the socialist formula of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work” may be fully restored and able citizens again find an incentive to work within the law.
As we can appreciate from this brief summary of the assembly, Cuba does not resort to shock measures or recipes prepared by the International Monetary Fund, which only exacerbate the crisis currently faced by the capitalist world.