News and Facts about Cuba

Commodities price surge boosts Cuba’s food-import bill

Commodities price surge boosts Cuba's -import bill
Published April 15, 2011

Havana – Cuba announced Friday that it will have to spend 25 percent
more than its original estimates to pay the cost of food imports due to
the international surge in commodity prices.

In a statement published Friday in the Communist Party daily Granma, the
of state-owned importer Alimport, Igor Montero, said that the
impact of the world crisis on the Cuban this year is expected to
total more than $308 million for importing basic products.

"That means that all the growth expected in revenues from the export of
nickel, services, sugar and other goods and services, will not be net
gains but must be spent to cover the deficit of the food-import bill,"
Montero said.

There will also be "an increase in subsidies in proportions not
contemplated in the plan" for the year, due to the "current structure of
food distribution and sales," which includes consumers' use of
cards to buy a specific group of products at subsidized prices, he said.

Cuba imports close to 80 percent of the food supplies consumed by its 11
million inhabitants at a cost of some $1.5 billion per year.

Granma specifies that the expenditure goes mainly to buy wheat, corn,
powdered milk, flour and soybean oil, which make up as much as 73
percent of the nation's food bill.

According to Montero, among the government's measures to check inflation
has been to contract imports in the first months of the year and to buy
commodity futures.

Montero said that the third strategy is to get moving with all projects
aimed at increasing domestic agricultural production, which President
has described as a matter of "national security" and is a
priority in his plan of reforms.

"Thanks to the inexplicable contrivances of perseverance, much more than
the real possibilities of our economy, our government pays whatever it
costs so that, among the unprotected on this earth, there is not one
Cuban," Granma said, referring to the humanitarian consequences of the
food crisis.

"Nonetheless, ways of working miracles are running out, and in a world
where the mathematics of trade increases its pragmatism, the more the
whirlwind slams those who have the least, the more we must find in our
own lands and industries the strength to escape its vortex," the
newspaper said.

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