Cuba scraps some private sector restrictions after backlash

Friday, December 07, 2018

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HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Havana on Wednesday announced it was scrapping some tough new restrictions on the private sector that had been set to take effect at the end of this week and had caused concerns among entrepreneurs.

Speaking on national television, Labour Minister Margarita Gonzalez said the Government recognised that 20 new rules, first published in the island's official gazette in July, had led to some unease among business owners and some of them would be revised.

The most controversial rule, which would have allowed only one business licence per person and per location, is among those that have been dropped.

In theory, it would have prevented a restaurant from having a separate bar or a guest house from serving food.

Similarly, a cap of 50 chairs per restaurant was also lifted.

Instead, the permitted number of guests “will be commensurate to the capacity of the establishment”, explained the minister, who said that the number of people employed by the private sector had grown from 157,000 in 2010 to 588,000 at the end of the October, or 13 per cent of the working population.

Another requirement for every business owner to have a bank account has also been dropped, with some exceptions.

It had been feared that taken together, these rules would have stifled the expansion of the private sector ten years after it was first legalised on the communist-run island.

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