14ymedio, Havana, 30 June 2017 — The latest Council of Ministers,
chaired by Raul Castro, has extended the term of the country's land
leases under the usufruct system to 20 years, but the leases can be
cancelled if the beneficiaries use illicit funds, according to an
announcement today in the official press.
The meeting analyzed the economic performance of the first half of 2017
and included the announcement of new measures "to improve
self-employment" and the decision to consolidate the experiment of
According to Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Minister of Economy and Planning,
the national economy behaved as planned. For the second semester, higher
levels of execution are expected with "the arrival of imported supplies
and the completion of contracts."
Marino Murillo Jorge, head of the Permanent Commission for
Implementation and Development, announced that it will no longer be for
10 years, but rather for 20, that a 'natural person' will be able to
enjoy the use of the land in usufruct, although he pointed out that
these lands remain "nontransferable property of the State and must be
kept in operation."
If the authorities detect that the person leasing the land has used
illicit financing, it may cancel the usufruct agreement, a move that
could be an answer to the recent announcements of Donald Trump's
administration to support local entrepreneurs to the detriment of state-
or military-owned and operated businesses.
During the Council of Ministers it was also announced that to receive
land, "natural persons have to work and manage it in a personal and
As of September 2016, 4.7 million acres of land had been delivered in
usufruct, representing 31% of the country's agricultural area. Starting
now, the taxes provided in the Tax Law concerning the use, possession
and idleness of the land, will gradually begin to be applied.
The lack of growth in the delivery of land is due, as Murillo explained,
to the fact that the number of requests have declined, since the
currently available land extensions "are less productive, with high
infestation from the invasive marabou weed, are far from the population
settlements and basic services, or have difficulty accessing water sources."
The measures to "improve self-employment," which were not explained to
the press, will be aimed at increasing control over entrepreneurs.
There was no report of any decisions made about the longed-for wholesale
market, the ability to import, or an increase in authorized occupations.
However, concerns were expressed about "the use of raw materials,
materials and equipment of illicit origin" in the private sector, in
addition to "breaches of tax obligations and underreporting of income,"
among other irregularities.
The authorities acknowledged that the presence of more than half a
million people in self-employment activities "confirms its validity as a
source of employment, while increasing the supply of goods and services,
with acceptable levels of quality."
The update of the policy of non-agricultural cooperatives was limited to
"concentrating efforts on consolidating the 429 already constituted."
The government reproaches these types of entities for "deviations from
the original idea for which they were created," their tendency to
increase prices, and the use of bank loans for "purposes other than the
concepts for which they were granted."
However, the Government recognized that this type of management
structure, authorized three years ago, "constitutes an alternative that
frees the State from the administration of economic activities,
production and services that are not considered primary," which will
continue to be treated as "an experiment" going forward.
Source: Cuban Government Extends Land Lease Period to 20 Years –
Translating Cuba -