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As Cuba seeks laborious foreign money, greenback shops reopen after 15 years By Reuters

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© Reuters. Shoppers, seen by means of a window’s glass, purchase motorcycle spare elements in a store promoting merchandise for {dollars} in Havana

By Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cubans flocked to a dozen outlets that opened in Havana on Monday promoting dwelling home equipment and spare elements for vehicles in {dollars}, because the cash-strapped authorities struggles to rake in tradable foreign money to buy imports and pay its money owed.

Washing machines, fridges, freezers, air conditioners, TVs, electrical bikes, automobile batteries, tires and different items had been priced properly under related affords at different state shops, when accessible on the market within the authorities’s native greenback equal, the convertible peso.

Cuba’s inefficient state-run economic system goes by means of a liquidity disaster as a result of implosion of ally Venezuela’s economic system and the tightening of the decades-old U.S. commerce embargo beneath President Donald Trump.

The nation depends on gas, meals and different imports it should buy for tradable worldwide currencies it earns from exports of products and providers similar to sugar, tourism and technical help, that are all in decline.

Shortages of all the things from gas to meals and medicines have plagued the nation this yr.

Joel Palomino, an schooling professor who rents out a room in his dwelling to vacationers, stated he had been ready in line at a retailer within the Vedado district since daybreak to purchase an air conditioner.

“Cubans very a lot have to buy these merchandise at an affordable value. The federal government ought to have achieved this a very long time in the past,” Palmino stated.

“The costs are decrease than in convertible pesos for a similar merchandise and higher than these Cubans carry again from Mexico and Panama to promote on the black market,” he stated.

The greenback circulated freely in Cuba alongside the peso after the demise of former benefactor the Soviet Union within the early 1990s sparked a disaster within the Communist-run nation. The greenback was taken out of circulation in 2004 and changed by the convertible peso.

Two currencies, the peso and the convertible peso, which is valued at 24 pesos, flow into in Cuba. Possession of the greenback and different tradable currencies is authorized, however they’ve beforehand not been deemed authorized tender for purchases.

The federal government claims the convertible peso is the same as the greenback, however imported home equipment and different items, when accessible, have big mark-ups as they should be bought in tradable currencies whereas the peso and convertible peso don’t have any worth overseas.

The state has a monopoly on international commerce and retail gross sales, however Cubans journey to locations similar to Haiti, Mexico, Panama and Russia, the place they collectively spend a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} to buy items that they then resell within the Caribbean nation.

Native economist Omar Everleny stated the shops would profit the state and customers alike.

“The costs are aggressive with the worldwide market as they’ve been diminished as a lot as 50% and the state is capturing internationally exchangeable cash that was circulating in Cuba however then flowing overseas to buy items at decrease costs,” he stated.

Everleny, like many different economists, stated the shops had been an admission that the convertible peso was price lower than a greenback and forecast that they marked the start of its finish.

“We’re going again to earlier than 2004 when there was solely the peso and sure merchandise had been priced in {dollars},” he stated.

Cubans who purchase from the specialist shops want a dollar-denominated financial institution card from an account opened with tradable currencies, such because the greenback or euro. Folks might receive these tradable currencies by means of offshore remittances or by different means similar to exchanging pesos on the road, the federal government stated.

The federal government stated a complete of 77 shops would open throughout the nation within the coming days, however as of Monday only one had opened outdoors the capital, in japanese Santiago de Cuba.





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