July 09, 2008
HAVANA -- Rising global food and oil prices will cause ''inevitable adjustments and restrictions'' for Cuba's economy, officials warned on Tuesday.
The communist government had projected that gross domestic product would expand by 8 percent in 2008, but Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez suggested that might no longer be possible.
''The impact of the substantial elevation of prices of food and fuel on the international market so far this year and the speculation for the rest of it will require inevitable adjustments and restrictions on the national economy,'' the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported, citing comments Rodriguez made to a parliamentary commission meeting Monday. The event was closed to foreign reporters.
There were no details on what ''adjustments and restrictions'' would be required.
Rodriguez said tourism expanded by at least 14 percent in the first half of the year, and Cuba's agricultural output grew 7.5 percent, the newspaper said, without giving raw figures. He said industrial production increased 6.2 percent.
Cuba said its economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2007 and Rodriguez said in December that he expected 8 percent growth this year.
Cuba's measurement of GDP includes spending on free healthcare, education and monthly food rations -- an uncommon methodology that critics say inflates growth figures. Officially, the economy expanded by 12.5 percent in 2006 and 11.8 percent in 2005.
Cuba is trying to slash its dependence on imported food, which will cost it nearly $2 billion this year.
Granma also reported that Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia told lawmakers that crude oil production topped 2.1 million tons through June, exceeding expectations by more than 6 percent.
Despite increasing oil production, Cuba relies heavily on Venezuela, whose President Hugo Chávez sends nearly 100,000 barrels of oil a day to the island in exchange for social services, including Cuban doctors.
Venezuelan oil and borrowing from China have helped Cuba overcome hardships caused by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc.