Díaz-Canel: "2023 has to be a better year".

"2023 has to be a better year; we have all the bases, in addition to the conviction, that it can be a better year," so considered the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, speaking at the most recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, in which the main aspects of the National Economy Plan and the State Budget for next year were presented.

What we have lived through in these last three years and what we have surpassed in these three years, the Head of State stressed, is a "heroic deed that the Cuban Revolution has done for the heroic people it has".

At the meeting of Cuba's highest governing body - led by Political Bureau member and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz - President Díaz-Canel recalled how, amid the circumstances of the intensification of the blockade imposed by the U.S. government and its discrediting campaigns, "having defeated the pandemic has made it possible to return to normality", at a time when many countries in the world have not been able to do so.

Particularly regarding the current year, he commented that "it has been intense" and although several economic measures have been implemented, "not all of them will have an immediate impact, because they are complex and also because they need to overcome the inertia of the processes".

The next year has to be better, the dignitary evaluated, based on the fact that "we all work intensely, and we all get the people to join this work with the example of the cadres". It has to be a year -he stressed- of intense and intelligent work, crushing bureaucracy, crushing obstacles, crushing immobility, crushing waiting and, of course, continuing the fight against corruption and illegalities based on the measures adopted.

Likewise, he insisted on the importance of making 2023 a year in which "innovation is present in everything we do, and that it generates results". In this regard, he highlighted work priorities such as food production with more efficiency, applying agroecology and science as much as possible. "We have to plant more and produce more food to import less, because food prices in the world are very high," he emphasized.

He also called attention to the need to "achieve the stability of the National Electric Power System", for which financing has been sought to enable repairs and maintenance and to conclude the month of December in a better situation, in order to continue advancing in a group of investments that are planned.

He considered it essential to increase exports in different areas; to promote foreign direct investment, especially in aspects that "produce growth, exports and improve the living conditions of the population", as well as to promote tourism and local development.

The President of the Republic also insisted that work must be done in 2023 to reduce the budget deficit and improve the application of our tax system; to continue to reduce social inequalities and to make progress in the implementation of our tax system.
social inequalities and make progress in the legislative exercise that the country has proposed.

There is a lot to work on, and we have the potential and possibilities to do so; we must work in an intelligent, committed and agile manner, seeking efficiency, effectiveness and efficiency in everything we do, the Cuban leader said.

2023: A YEAR OF TAKE-OFF FOR THE ECONOMY

The first goal we have set for the 2023 Economy Plan is to get as close as possible to the conditions that the economy had in 2019, when the pandemic did not exist and the US government blockade had not been tightened, said the Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil Fernández, when he presented to the highest government body the main aspects that characterize the Economy Plan for next year.

According to the explanation offered by the also Cuban Vice Prime Minister, the 2023 Plan prioritizes, among other objectives: to advance in the macroeconomic stabilization of the country; to continue recovering the capacities of the National Electro-energy System and accelerate the introduction of Renewable Energy Sources; to advance in the reduction of inequalities; to consolidate the process of decentralization of competences to the territories, and to achieve the integral transformation of the socialist state enterprise.

In terms of numbers, he commented on the emphasis that should be placed on the export of services, which constitutes "the main source of income of the country". Areas such as tourism, health services and telecommunications, he said, set the tone in this sense.

Referring to investments, he detailed that the growth projection has been designed according to the National Development Plan, mainly in tourism, housing, food production, energy, industry and constructions.

Associated with social and territorial development, he ratified that "resources are foreseen to support the main activities of basic social services such as Public Health, Education, Sports, Culture, Radio and Television".

We cannot renounce to a projection of economic growth for next year, said Gil Fernández, and he listed some elements that allow the country to be in better conditions to advance than in the previous year. In this sense, he commented on the epidemiological stability associated with the pandemic, the projection of a level of tourism above three million visitors, as well as the expected stability in the price of nickel, and that which has been achieved in the country in several productions such as tobacco.

We consider that there is potential to make further progress in the growth of the economy, Gil Fernandez pointed out. We have the potential to increase income and "we cannot give up on 2023 being a year of take-off from the point of view of the possibilities that the economy has".

The key, he said, is to "continue working hard on all the income potentialities that the country has in areas such as health, tourism, nickel, and services exports, to aspire to a higher growth and we have the possibilities to do it".

"It is a very challenging Plan, a Plan with many challenges, in which we have to combine actions from the point of view of increasing income with a more efficient use of resources, but we are in conditions to fulfill it", she concluded.

Next, the Minister of Finance and Prices, Meisi Bolaños Weiss, explained the essential aspects that distinguish the State Budget designed for next year, whose essential premise is the support to the principle of social justice.

Speaking on this point, the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, called attention to the next ordinary period of sessions of the National Assembly of the People, in which the proposal of the Plan of the Economy and State Budget for 2023 will be presented to the deputies and must speak "very clearly about the difficulties we have".

We are obliged -he considered- that in 2023 the economy will be perceived as picking up, and "we can achieve it, let there be no doubt about it". There is a group of issues, of decisions, the Prime Minister assured, which are in the process of implementation and should have an impact next year.

However, he added, it is not enough to propose to grow and remain calm, "we have to spend time to see how and what we are going to do differently to guarantee that we really start 2023 with different actions and that we guarantee the fulfillment of the Economy Plan".

Objective issues that prevent us from moving forward cannot become excuses -insisted Marrero Cruz-, it is a reality that we already know and before which we have to define what we are going to do differently, how we multiply the efforts, how we take advantage of that collective intelligence of our workers and put it in function of looking for solutions.

"2023 cannot be the same year, and there is a people waiting for us", he stressed.

In terms of planning, he stressed, 2023, "will undoubtedly be a better year: on January 1st, each municipality will wake up with a Budget and a Plan for the Economy already officially approved". From then on, he reflected, the business system has to prepare its plans and make the breakdowns, and each municipal assembly president has to have, by January 20 at the latest, the Economy Plan of everything that is going to happen in his municipality.

For example, the delegates that we have just elected, and those that will be elected next Sunday, he pointed out, when January 1st arrives, they must have an overview of the budget that corresponds to their constituency, their community and their area.

The changes must be perceived by the people, it is not enough to make structural changes, he said.

Finally, the members of the Council of Ministers approved that both documents be submitted to the deputies during the next ordinary session of the National Assembly.

TACKLING ILLEGALITIES WITH FIRMNESS

As part of the broad agenda of the day, an update was also presented on the status of the implementation of the General Directives aimed at the prevention and confrontation of crime, corruption, illegalities and social indisciplines that were approved during the working session of the Council of Ministers last October.

According to the explanation given at the meeting - in which the highest authorities of the 15 provinces and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud participated via videoconference - the 45 approved directives are aimed, among other purposes, at ensuring that the goals of economic and social development and prosperity in the country are achieved in an environment of order, exigency and discipline.

The actions designed -which aim to strengthen and gain effectiveness in the control of resources of all kinds- cannot be considered finished, it was emphasized at the meeting, as they will be constantly improved, taking into account the evolution of the facts and the characteristics of each territory or entity.

Speaking on this point, the Prime Minister insisted that work has been done so that, from the very beginning, each action or measure implemented has defined those responsible for its follow-up and control at each level, from the central government to the governing bodies of the activities in provinces and municipalities.

"Where everything is implemented is in the municipality, that is to say that the direct confrontation is in the municipality", he reflected.

With special emphasis he drew attention to the need to support the bodies of the Ministry of Interior, especially the Police, which plays an important role in this matter. He recalled that the confrontation is a problem that concerns us all, and just as the Police carries out operations against illegalities, the business system has to carry out its own operations wherever there are problems, because, insisted the Prime Minister, "nothing can go against our people".

Hence his reaffirmation to confront crime, corruption, illegalities and social indiscipline "with justice but firmly", and in a sustained manner, because that is what "the people are asking us".

ITEMS APPROVED BY THE MINISTERIAL COUNCIL

The broad work agenda also included the approval of an update on the status of overdue accounts payable and receivable, overdue, in litigation and court rulings at the end of September, an issue in which, according to the Minister of Finance and Prices, Meisi Bolaños Weiss, further progress is needed to break the chains of non-payment.

Solving these chains, she emphasized, is imperative in order to advance in the recovery of the economy. It is the responsibility of the chiefs, he said, to achieve greater demands so that these events do not have as causes financial indiscipline, bad and insufficient commercial and contractual management, illegalities, crimes and acts of corruption.

The members of the Council of Ministers also approved the Policy for the Improvement of the Cuban Sports System, taking into account the current political, economic and social context of the country.

According to the explanation made by Osvaldo Vento Montiller, president of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder), the designed seeks, among other objectives, to achieve a strengthening of sports for all, involving all the institutions of the sports system; to guarantee full inclusion in the participation of people with disabilities and to strip away all vestiges of social discrimination; the categorization of human resources in prioritized sports; to strengthen the recruitment of athletes, coaches and specialists in Cuba and abroad, and others.

Based on this Policy, he commented, we will be in a position to enact the Law of the Cuban Sports System, "the first of its kind in the country".

During the working day, the green light was also given to the Territorial Planning Scheme for the province of Matanzas which, according to Samuel Rodiles Planas, president of the National Institute of Territorial Planning and Urbanism, aims at proposing a territorial planning until 2035, aimed at sustainable development and that contributes to promote the rational use of resources and to raise the quality of life of the population.

In this outline, he said, the main potentialities and restrictions of the province are well defined, as well as the proposed land-use planning model and the main transformations. In addition, territorial policies and determinations are defined which must be implemented in the territory and are subject to an annual evaluation process to verify their management.

Likewise, the Agreement of the Council of Ministers was approved to include new positions in which the indeterminate-term employment contract is applied for discontinuous or cyclical work.

This agreement, explained the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Marta Elena Feitó Cabrera, includes workers linked, among other sectors, to the sugar harvest, agro-forestry activities, the food industry, the commercialization of agricultural products and tourism activities.

OTHER ISSUES ON THE AGENDA

Essential aspects for the country, such as the progress of the National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030, were also included in the working day. On this point, the Minister of Economy and Planning recalled that it is a valuable instrument for the development of the economy, since it is also a management tool with greater scientific rigor and comprehensiveness, which enhances transversality, complementarity of analysis and criteria and more consensual decision-making on the main imbalances and problems that limit growth and development.

It is important, he said, "to consolidate the path taken and, as we go along, to systematically improve its management and results".

More than a year after its implementation, he said, strategic development planning has been given greater prominence and the importance of the articulation and coordination of planning processes in the different time frames - short, medium and long term - has been ratified.

As part of the broad agenda of the meeting, the members of the Council of Ministers were also informed about the progress of the comprehensive plans to confront urban illegalities by the end of June 2022. This is a subject that is systematically evaluated in this type of meetings and on which actions must continue to be carried out in order to comply with what has been established at all levels.

According to the information provided by Samuel Rodiles Planas, president of the National Institute of Territorial Planning and Urbanism, this is an issue in which, in general, progress is being made. Of the 16 territories, he said, 14 are in compliance with the eradication of the new illegalities.

At the time of closing the information, he added, more illegalities had been eradicated than in the same stage of the previous year and the number of pending illegalities from other periods had decreased.

In general, he said, there is still instability and ineffectiveness in the operation of the groups to confront illegalities, which do not act in a timely manner when these should be forcibly eliminated.

On the other hand, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, announced the main economic effects on the country caused by irregularities in foreign trade operations. The subject, which is also systematically evaluated in the meetings of the highest Government body, is of vital importance and must be approached with the utmost exigency, he considered.

In his speech, the Minister referred to logistical problems that hinder the efficiency of export and import operations, such as the case of foreign currency payments to shipping companies for container delays, an issue that, even though in the period under evaluation is better than in the previous year, continues to cause losses to the economy.

Among the main causes for the occurrence of these events, he pointed out, among others, the deterioration of the technical condition of port facilities, warehouses and silos, the low level of reception in the factories processing raw materials for the elaboration of finished products, as well as the obsolescence and low technical availability of the handling equipment.

When addressing the performance of the Operation Port Transportation Internal Economy during the first half of the year, the head of Transportation, Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila, explained that multiple activities were carried out to continue improving the process of management and control of the operation.

The total amount of cargo transported in the country during the period, he said, reached 29,166,800 tons.

Among the main deficiencies observed during the period, he referred to irregularities in the planning and arrival of vessels, which generate problems with the securing of their unloading, as well as insufficient planning and organization of transports, aggravated by the instability of the industry's production, and the availability of fuels and technical means of logistics, among other factors.

He valued that insufficiencies of a subjective nature persist in the operation of the Operation Port Transport Internal Economy. All of them - he assured - will continue to be the focus of attention, without disregarding those of an objective nature, which will be solved as from the availability of financing and resources, as well as the timely actions of the managers at the different levels.

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