Cuba prepares for the "orderly" elimination of ration cards effective
The Cuban government is proposing the orderly elimination of the
rations' card according to a document prepared for the ruling party
Communist Congress scheduled for April 2011.
A ration card A ration card
The social policy document under the heading of "Guidelines' project for
economic and social policy" went on sale on Tuesday in Havana and is
expected to be approved in the coming congress.
The document anticipates "implementing the orderly elimination of the
rations card, a regulated and fair distribution system at subsidised
But the ration card favours both the needy as the non needy "promotes
bartering and resale practices and encourages an underground market".
Effective since 1962, the ration card is supposed to deliver at symbolic
prices cereals, sugar, chicken, fish, eggs, rice, coffee, cooking oil,
pasta and bread among other staples (when they are available) to the
11.2 million residents of the island.
But in recent months the Cuban government decided to end with the supply
of potatoes and tobacco, which triggered the debate over whether the
ration card should subsist or be eliminated.
"It is also important to improve ways to protect the vulnerable
population or at risk because of food supply", points out the document.
In other words this means keeping the "social food distribution system
in social services, health centres and education establishments that
need it" as well as in the workers mess rooms which are "essential", but
charging subsidized prices.
The closure of subsidized workers mess rooms begun in September 2009 in
several ministries on a trial basis and with the purpose of cutting
The program also includes leaving redundant half a million government
employees that will be encouraged to become small entrepreneurs or self
employed. Another half million will follow taking advantage of the
experience collected with the first batch hoping to promote a dynamic
private sector of small shop keepers and tradesmen.
These latest announcements are in the framework of other measures on
economic policy undertaken by President Raul Castro since taking office
and with the purpose of "up-dating" and making more transparent and
realistic the Cuban economy.
Castro convened the April congress, the first since 1997, with the
specific task of addressing economic policy.