The Cuban National Assembly approved on Monday Communist Party proposals to overhaul the country's stagnating, state-dominated economy and lift some restrictions on citizens' personal lives, state-run media said.
The plan, which includes more than 300 points, was first approved at a Communist Party Congress in April and would definitively do away with the decades-old paternalistic society built under Fidel Castro's leadership.
"Socialism means equal rights and opportunity for all, but not egalitarianism," Jose Luis Toledo, president of the parliament's constitutional and legal affairs committee, was quoted as saying when he introduced the motion.
Cuban President Raul Castro and other top party and government officials presided over Monday's session to which foreign journalists were not invited.
"The Cuban parliament today supported and approved the economic and social plans of the Communist party and Revolution" state news agency Prensa Latina said.
The reforms, to be implemented over five years, slash more than a million government jobs and reduce the state's role in sectors such as agriculture, retail services, transportation and construction in favor of private small businesses, cooperatives and leasing.
Larger state companies are freed up to make more of their own decisions and take into account market forces, while regulations that prohibit normal personal affairs such as buying and selling cars and homes would be loosened.
At the same time state subsidies for everything from food to utilities will be gradually eliminated and state wages, that average the equivalent of $18 per month, increased.
The state has monopolized more than 90 percent of all economic activity and employed a similar percentage of the labor force since the earliest days of Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.
Protracted economic crisis
The country, which faces a stiff U.S. trade embargo, has yet to fully emerge from a two-decades-old economic crisis sparked by the demise of former benefactor the Soviet Union.
Raul Castro has pushed for a new economic and social model based on individual effort and reward with targeted welfare, to replace one based on collective labor and consumption.
Raul Castro first replaced his ailing brother Fidel five years ago, becoming president in 2008.
Local authorities have not waited for National Assembly approval to begin cutting jobs and subsidies and building what they call the "non-state" sector.
Some 325,000 people now run small businesses or work for them, compared with 150,000 before regulations were loosened late last year.
The number of small farmers has also increased by 150,000 since the state began leasing small plots of fallow state lands three years ago in hopes of reversing an agricultural crisis that has the country importing 60 percent to 70 percent of its food.
The single chamber parliament meets two times a year for only a few days and just about all of its members hold positions in, or are members of, the Communist Party, the only legal political organization in the country.
ReutersLast Mod: 02 Ağustos 2011, 13:51