HAVANA._ During 2014 Cuba continued to deploy strategies driven by the updating of the national economic and social model which have created the requisite conditions for significant advancement in 2015 and which should put a halt to the decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As President Raúl Castro has reiterated, the necessarily measured and unhurried gradual progression of the strategic vision for economic development will continue on the basis of the implementation of guidelines approved by the 6th Party Congress.

During 2014 Cuba continued to deploy strategies driven by the updating of the national economic and social model which have created the requisite conditions for significant advancement in 2015 and which should put a halt to the decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).The advancement of the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model for Socialist Development and the approval of the guidelines for the country´s long term Program for Socio-Economic Development are of the most importance in this endeavor.

Moreover, policies and projections are being implemented in key activities such as renewable energy sources, care of the demographic dynamic, foreign investment and the List of Business Opportunities.

During the last ordinary Parliamentary Session, Economy Minister Marino Murillo said that such measures will facilitate paying special attention to key social and economic objective indicators in the context of a projected growth rate greater than 4 percent for 2015.

This will require the deployment of all the reserves of intelligence and energy by the forces of production to achieve, for example, an 11.8 percent growth rate in manufacturing industries, for which a more diverse range of guarantees is planned.

Compliance with new provisions related to state assignments, the broadening of the enterprises´ social objectives, the system of payments according to yields and powers to, among other things, facilitate sales of surplus that result in a greater degree of autonomy to companies will also be important.

Cuba´s authorities recognize that the availability of convertible currency represents one of the greatest challenges for which a moderate positive balance of 19.7 million dollars is projected along with an increased use of credits to support investment and working capital for programed activities.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND DUAL CURRENCY

Although not the cure for all of Cuba’s economic ailments, foreign investment and the elimination of the dual currency will continue to progress as governmental priorities as they are strategies that should advance in conjunction with complimentary measures. Monetary unification is a decision that is to be introduced gradually; the acceptance of Cuban pesos in some convertible currency shops will progressively extend nationwide.

All the necessary preparatory steps and the accompanying measures of a macro-economic nature are so that the national currency can fulfil the functions required of it, the Economy Minister has reiterated. Everything that is demanded on the Cuban side regarding the operation and establishment of enterprises funded from abroad is being done in order to stimulate the application of Foreign Investment Law No. 118.

Decisive in this regard was the presentation at the 32nd edition of the Havana International Trade Fair of the List of Business Opportunities, comprising 246 well prepared projects with a combined value of 8.7 billion dollars relating to key strategic developmental sectors as part of the modernization of Cuba´s economic model.

In this regard, the Mariel Special Development Zone represents the principal endeavor for the attraction of foreign investors to which the implementation of a strategy for the promotion and improvement of the foreign investment statistics system will be added.

All personnel involved in such activity will receive further training and experts will work to bring the Law into line with agreements and deals initiated by Cuba.

This should be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Another step which will facilitate evaluation of the activities undertaken by the Cuban side is the determination of a minimum wage rate within businesses funded by foreign capital.

Among the most significant challenges that arise from the first stage of the implementation of Law 118 are agri-industrial projects, the production of building materials, the export of medical services and commercial development.

Deborah Rivas, Director General of the Ministry of External Trade and Foreign Investment, is of the view that in order for the country to attain the desired results and for the correct implementation of the policy, professionalism and expedite work in dealing with potential investors are necessary.

Investment proposals from companies from more than 36 countries, of which Spain, Cuba, Italy, Vietnam, China, France, Brazil, Mexico, Holland and Canada stand out, are expected to be approved during the first months of the year.

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