Alejandro Gil Fernández, ratified on thursday that Cuba will not give up its goal of growing 6% in 2021.
At a press conference in which details of the economy’s behavior in the first four months of the year were offered, the minister clarified that this expected increase in GDP is calculated concerning the previous year when the Island suffered a contraction of 11 percent.
“It is a growth that does not imply a considerable increase in levels of activities and offers because we would be below the level of economic activity of 2019”, specified Gil Fernández and explained that “if we grow by 6% in 2021 and around 6% in the next year we would be recovering, at the close of 2022, the same level of GDP with which we closed 2019, calculated, at constant prices, at about 56,900,000,000 pesos.”
On the aspects that support this forecast, the minister mentioned that although the tourism sector – “the driving force of the economy” – has not been able to reactivate (the goal is to receive 2.2 million travelers), other sectors exhibit better dynamics than planned, such as the export of nickel whose value in the international market exceeds 17,000 dollars per ton.
Telecommunication services also show a favorable performance, said Gil Fernández and highlighted as important for the projected result the development promoted by the socialist state enterprise and its linkage with non-state work. “We consider that 2021 will be a year in which issues that as a policy have been proposed will be materialized.”
According to the minister, even though it is uncertain in the short term the recovery of tourism, essential for the fulfillment of the plan, “if it does not happen, because the pandemic situation is difficult in Cuba and the world, Cuba does not give up its goal of growth.” For this purpose, the necessary alternatives are being sought.
The minister commented on aspects that have marked this first four-month period of the year, such as the celebration of the 8th Party Congress, which “evaluated in-depth the updating of the economic model and approved 201 new guidelines that define the priorities for the period 2021-2026.”
The Congress, he said, reflected the priority that the country gives to the economic battle.
He also remarked that these first four months of the year led to an intense confrontation of the country to the resurgence of COVID-19, with its implication in the economy. “The pandemic has impacts that can be calculated because they are disbursements, but there are other indirect spillovers that cannot be accurately appreciated and that are greater.”
For example, the impact on the productive system, with the closure of activities in the non-state sector (rental housing, restaurants, and bars), with an incidence especially in tourist poles such as Viñales and Baracoa. “A cost that families and the economy are suffering.”
Likewise, he added, damages in the state’s productive activity have been quantified. “Factories and constructions have been paralyzed.”
Regarding the costs associated with Health, the Minister informed that the country had allocated more than 300,000,000 dollars for investments related to the acquisition of PCR tests and the operation of molecular biology laboratories.
This, he detailed, does not include, for example, the country’s expenditure on isolation centers and the transportation of suspected, positive, and convalescent cases. “The State budget has disbursed almost 2 billion Cuban pesos to support expenses linked to COVID-19.”
He pointed out that, amid this scenario, there has been a deficit of medicines “associated with the priority given to the fight against the pandemic.”
The Minister announced that the National Statistics and Information Office calculates the impacts of the pandemic in the country “because the indirect effects are greater than the direct costs.”
Gil Fernández highlighted the health intervention process being carried out in Cuba as “a tremendous achievement of science and scientists, in a country blocked and facing an exceptional situation in the economy, with scarcity and limitations of resources.”