From the Cuba Study Group, Desde la Isla, 5 de Noviembre de 2012
Antonio Romero, Universidad de la Habana
From the Island, Issue 13, November 5, 2012
I. Economic Growth and Development in Cuba: some conceptual challenge s.
The set of economic and social guidelines adopted at the Sixth Congress of the PCC (Havana, April 2011) cover a wide range of policies, sectors and areas of action. The application of these guidelines will determine substantive changes for the country’s economic, social and political life. However, it is convenient to think of an analysis that defines strategic foresight—from the experience gained and the economic and social problems currently facing Cuba, which are the basis of the transformation process—a medium and long term vision for the country that is wanted and can be built. It should consider the restrictions on existing national political space, and the basic political consensus, economic and social rights of the Cuban nation.
Such a medium and long term view would necessarily have to include in economic terms, the requirement to achieve high and sustainable growth rates in Cuba. This is key to guarantee expanded reproduction, increased living standards and the welfare of the population, a necessary condition, although not exclusive, for development.
Considering the growth rate of gross domestic product as an indicator of little relevance in economic terms—as it was believed by some in recent periods in Cuba’s economic history—reveals serious limitations in understanding the processes that lead to the development of a country. The development is always a path of sustained growth in the context of the dynamic interaction of capital investment, the accumulation of knowledge applied to production, structural change and institutional development. Key in this strategic vision—in economic terms—would be the discussion and definition of the spaces needed in that process of change:
i) the non-government property sector and within it, the private sector;
ii) monetary-commercial relationships and their link to national economic development;
iii) decentralization of the management and direction of the national economy, and what degree of autonomy derived from it would be allowed to economic agents;
iv) the role of economic stimulus to encourage production and reward the efforts and social contributions of people and the institutions in which they work; and
v) the degree of acceptable distributive inequity—and buffer policies—under such a scenario in the medium and long term.
Obviously, such a strategic vision would include other elements, but the five dimensions outlined above would be central to the understanding and to consistency of the process of transformation of the development model for the country.
Progress in terms of development, also involves in the case of small economies like Cuba, the adoption and implementation of a strategy of specialization relatively concentrated in a limited number of export activities that will ensure the country international insertion and that would be beneficial to sustained expanded reproduction.
This is so because small island economies are not able to establish a “closed loop” for operation, since they cannot internally guarantee all conditions that are required for economic growth.
The limited size of the domestic market, the requirements of economies of scale that characterize contemporary technology, and the limitations on labor and financial and productive resources, determine a relatively narrow specialization in the case of small economies like Cuba.
The complete essay: Antonio Romero, Cuba, Reformulation of the Economic Model and External Insertion