by the El Reportero’s wire services
The Cuban government announced last week the beginning of a process to eliminate the unpopular dual-currency system that has prevailed on the island since 1994, Communist Party daily Granma said Tuesday.
“The Council of Ministers has agreed to put into effect a schedule for applying measures that will lead to monetary and exchange-rate unification,” the newspaper said.
Cuba now has two currencies – the peso, which is worth less than four cents, and the CUC, which trades at parity with the dollar.
The vast majority of Cubans are paid in pesos, receiving an average monthly salary of about $17.
Employees of foreign-owned firms receive some remuneration in CUCs, and people who get remittances in dollars from relatives in the United States can exchange their greenbacks for CUCs.
Without establishing any specific dates, Granma said the transition will begin with firms, “in order to favor conditions for increased efficiency, provide a better measure of economic operations and as a stimulus for sectors producing goods and services for export and for import substitution.”
The Cuban government notes that “no measure that is adopted in the monetary field will be to the detriment” of workers or savers. It also guarantees that it will continue to apply the current policy of subsidies for retail prices and for individuals when necessary, as long as the nation’s economic conditions require it.”
Monetary unification is one of the most important measures in the plan for economic reforms launched by President Raul Castro to “modernize” the island’s socialist model.
The present dual-currency regime is one of the “biggest obstacles to progress in the country,” Castro told Cuba’s parliament in July.
Uruguay receives $18 million loan to finance national health system
The Inter-American Development Bank approved a conditional line of credit for Uruguay for up to $18 million to finance the E-Government Program Management Program in the Health Sector as well as the credit line’s first loan for $6 million.
The program will provide long-term benefits to beneficiaries in the country’s National Health System through electronic health records and other actions that will improve the ability to monitor and manage services and move towards a health care model focused on prevention.
The aim of the first loan of the credit line is to help improve health system management through improvements in administration, exchange of information on service delivery and patient clinical data, and the expansion of services through telemedicine tools.
The first operation will finance the creation of strategic guidelines for electronic medical records and the development of an implementation strategy throughout the system, a unified clinical history model, and the design of an interoperability platform at the national level.
The operation will also finance investments in pilot health centers for the application of tele-imaging systems, support for the design development of the National Tele-imaging System, define the connectivity architecture among the centers participating in the pilot initiative, and the production of a draft proposal for service complementarity in the integrated health services network.