Cuban economy grows 1.2 percent in 2018

Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil

HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 1.2 percent in 2018 in an environment marked by policies implemented to reduce the country’s external debt and the tightening of the US embargo, Alejandro Gil, minister of economy and planning, said on Friday.

Gil reported to the national assembly that, with respect to 2017, several sectors are growing, including transport and communications 5.7 percent; manufacturing industry 3.7 percent; commerce two percent; public health 1.3 percent; and culture and sports 2.3 percent.

The minister explained that for this year a GDP growth of two percent was expected, and the non-compliance is mainly due to sectors such as the sugar industry — as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Irma, agriculture, construction, mines and quarries.

Gil clarified that, although the planned growth has not been achieved, the national economy is not decreasing, a result that he valued as meritorious.

He pointed out that the investment plan is 84.7 percent, while the generation of electricity and the participation of renewable energy sources will close lower than planned — this year was expected to reach 4.35 percent, and closed at 3.51.

He commented that cargo transportation will close at 90.1 percent due to the fact that planned activity levels are not reached, while passenger transportation grew by 7.8 percent with respect to the plan, although still insufficient to satisfy the population’s demand.

According to the minister, although tourism grew 1.3 percent over 2017, there was a failure of five percent with respect to the annual plan, due to the impact of weather phenomena and the tightening of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on the island.

He said the occupancy rate was 55.4 percent, lower than planned, which was 66 percent.

On the idle inventories, he said they are still high, with an amount in excess of 24 million pesos.

He noted that measures were adopted to ensure the success of the plan, including greater rationality of decisions on imports and other foreign exchange expenditures, reduced fuel consumption and improved energy intensity, and use of inventories to ensure higher levels of activity.

Among the main results for 2018, he mentioned the continued implementation of the railway recovery and development program, investments in the multipurpose terminal in Santiago de Cuba, the expansion of telephone lines and Internet access services for the population.

In addition, 188 km of supply networks and 28.2 km of sewage were installed, as well as 102 km of conductors and 23.5 km of drainage and collectors.

Gil explained that, in the same way, the participation of the national industry in packaging programs continues to grow gradually.

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