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    Price control: A complex but decisive battle for the future of the Revolution

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    Price control: A complex but decisive battle for the future of the Revolution

    How to ensure that the measures adopted to control prices are effective and transcend the formal? What steps have been taken along this path?

    These were some of the questions that led to the presentation by the Ministry of Finance and Prices and the subsequent debate among the deputies gathered in the Economic Affairs Commission, prior to the first regular session of the tenth legislature.

    As Vladimir Regueiro Ale, Minister of Finance and Prices, recognized, there are many dissatisfactions on the part of the population in this sphere and concrete and tangible solutions are demanded for the measures adopted.

    “We are aware of the dissatisfaction of the population and of our responsibility and commitment to our people to achieve tangible results in the complex economic scenario in which we live. It is one of the issues that most worries the population and the Government, especially due to the decrease in the purchasing power of our people in basic consumption and services.

    Regueiro Ale pointed out that the inflationary situation has been worsening in recent years and, although he recognized that this phenomenon is not exclusive to our country, he recalled that external elements such as the international crisis and the effects of the intensified blockade affect Cuba.

    It also affects "add the high fiscal deficits to finance the State budget from the expenses that we cannot solve with our income."

    He reported that the consumer price index at the end of 2022 registered a growth of 39%.

    “Since the beginning of the year, prices have grown by 18%. Compared to the same period last year, prices have increased by 45%,” the minister said.

    He commented that among the measures adopted by the Government, price regulations by local governments stand out for a certain nomenclature of products highly sought after by the population. At the same time, the consensus of stock prices and the population with the different economic actors.

    "Others are the direct linkage of the budgeted entities that provide basic services (health, education, sports and culture), which allows them to agree on stable prices and suppliers, as well as the approval by local authorities of sales and service tax discounts."

    Work has also been done, said the minister, on the control and demand of the state marketing entities on the adjustments to the commercial margins and on the intensification of communication actions on the agreed prices and the results of the price controls carried out.

    Regarding these results, the president of the National Assembly, Esteban Lazo Hernández, said that beyond the measures, what is established must be enforced.

    “There is a real economic problem that affects this issue. If there is no supply and production, we will not achieve effective price control," he said.

    The Minister of Finance and Prices added that an approved work system has recently been applied, but there is still a need for consolidation and systematic operation.

    Besides, price agreements are focused on agricultural products, leaving aside other equally basic ones that are offered by non-state economic actors.

    Regueiro Ale pointed out that, although agricultural prices are not stable in most cases, in some provinces the measures have been more effective. However, there is still a lack of control and review of the work of the control bodies, as well as a greater contracting of the collection of productions in each municipality.

    The minister also highlighted the lack of objectivity in the settlement of agricultural prices and other products, and the need for a study to find out if the price is real.

    In addition, he pointed out the lack of responsibility of the budgeted sector in achieving a direct link with the suppliers, the scarce disclosure of the prices that are arranged and of the confrontation actions, and the lack of coherence in the assimilation of the concept of abusive or speculative prices.

    However, Regueiro Ale highlighted that Resolution 148 has been published, which establishes a methodology for the formation of cost and expense sheets of products and services for the evaluation of prices and rates.

    "This resolution updates the regulations of relevant elements in price formation, with inclusive criteria for all economic actors, and establishes maximum profit rates by type of activities and maximum coefficients of indirect expenses for production and service activities," he explained.

    Daylín Alfonso Mora, deputy for the municipality of Matanzas, explained the good results of her territory in relation to price controls and showed some examples such as agricultural prices and beach services. However, he recognized the lack of inspectors to check compliance.

    Carlos César Torres, from San Luis, Pinar del Río, stressed that in order to contain prices, one should not wait for indications from the central government and stressed the role of local governments in this work.

    He commented on the importance of cost sheets for price formation and called for not stigmatizing new players in the economy. "We must reach consensus, meet more with them and insert them more effectively in territorial development."

    Later, the deputy Ian Pedro Carbonell drew attention to the relationship between the fiscal deficit and the rise in prices. "You have to be very careful with monetary issues at times of supply deficit."

    Carlos Miguel Pérez Reyes drew attention to a group of the population that does not have access to certain products due to high costs, a fact that must be reversed.

    Likewise, he called not to generalize with the issue of the prices established by MSMEs, since not all of them have speculative prices, and he called to directly confront those that do not comply with the provisions.

    He warned that it should be taken into account that the prices established by the new economic actors are affected by the non-availability of an exchange market to buy foreign currency.

    Finally, Joel Quipo Ruiz, member of the CCPCC secretariat and head of the Economic Department, stressed that “this is a complex battle that we must win with intelligence, it defines the future of the Revolution, and we must win it as soon as possible. The question is not in the number of measures, but the concrete impact of those that are applied".

    Agricultural production shows unfavorable results

    The work of the Agri-Food Commission was attended by the Vice President of the Republic, Salvador Valdés Mesa, and Félix Duarte Ortega, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and head of the Agri-Food Department.

    The Agri-Food Commission of the Cuban Parliament analyzed this Wednesday the report on compliance with the economy plan until May 2023 in the agricultural sector, as part of the activities prior to the first regular session of the tenth legislature.

    The report presented to the deputies highlights that until May, agricultural production shows unfavorable results in the main productions, with defaults and decreases compared to the same period of 2022.

    Among the products whose production has not reached the levels foreseen in the plan are root vegetables and vegetables, beans, corn, fruit trees and rice. In addition, pork and bovine meat, eggs and milk, coffee, cocoa and honey.

    The report indicates that the productions obtained have been achieved on the basis of extensive agriculture, with limitations of fertilizers, pesticides, fuels, animal feed and other basic inputs, to which are added organizational and management problems.

    The results for the period have been influenced by the situation with diesel fuel. Until the end of May, only 68% of the operational plan has been available, which represents 8,500 tons less than those received in the same period of 2022.

    In fertilizers, of the 28,900 tons planned to be imported and/or produced until May, only 168 tons (0.6%) were received. In the same period of 2022, 14,700 tons were delivered.

    Nationally fertilizers were not produced, out of the 9,600 tons planned, according to the report presented to the deputies.

    Yasser Hamed Jassén Santiesteban, president of the Swine Activity Business Group, said that the swine program in Cuba continues poorly, with high prices in the network of agricultural markets.

    "Even though more pork was produced and delivered in this period compared to the previous year, demand levels are not being met and prices are still very high," he said.

    The national pig program has had to change its management model and has not been able to grow the reproductive mass, although it is expected that this situation will be reversed by the end of the year. "Achieving the replacement of that swine mass is essential to achieve the desired levels of meat production and to lower prices," said the manager.

    The Swine Activity Business Group has produced dry feed and liquid feed, has contracted barley waste and by-products to guarantee animal feed. However, said its president, "We must stop the inefficiencies and recover the pig mass for next year."

    In this regard, Ydael Pérez Brito, Minister of Agriculture, reported that the number of breeding sows (specialized and non-specialized) is expected to multiply before the end of 2023 and improve some breed levels.

    “To re-stabilize the pig program in the country, around 120,000 pigs must be reached monthly,” he said.

    In this sense, the Group is called upon to find mechanisms through foreign investment to obtain the necessary soybeans to feed these sows, since it provides them with the protein they require.

    Jorge Luis Parapar López, director of Grupo Avícola, said that currently working with a mass of hens (in all its variants) much less than the previous year, and that the objective for the next semester is to increase this mass in such a way that it allows them to replace older animals and keep meat production stable.

    Regarding egg production, he commented that the aim is to increase the mass of laying hens and recover the production levels we had before the pandemic stage by 2026.

    Based on this, he said, the Group is working on two foreign investment projects for the production of animal feed and has contracted the necessary wire to repair the cages, as well as machinery and other inputs to guarantee the production of eggs and poultry meat.

    The president of Grupo OSDE Ganadero, Osmany Barreiro Consuegra, reported that at the end of the first quarter, the Group's companies are growing in the production of milk and meat, although the demands of the population are not being met.

    Currently, he said, acquiring the necessary inputs for the activity generates losses for producers. In addition, losses are reported in genetic companies because they no longer receive a subsidy, so the Group is looking for financing alternatives.

    The president of the Agroforestry Group, Justo Luis Fuentes Díaz, commented that the agroforestry companies only have obsolete technology and at the moment they are working so that the productive results subsidize the replacement of the equipment.

    At the end of the debate, the Minister of Agriculture referred to the necessary chain of work with business groups and the improvement that is implemented in these. "The groups are going to start serving companies at the municipal level that do not have training and we must insist on that as well."

    He affirmed that the socialist state enterprise, the politics of cadres, and its relationship with the different forms of producers must continue to be strengthened.