Economy of Cuba - Self-employment


To provide jobs for workers laid off due to the economic crisis that the government was having difficulty providing, and to try to bring some forms of black market activity into legal, and regulated, channels, Havana in 1993 legalized self-employment for some 150 occupations. The government tightly controls the small private sector, which has fluctuated in size from 150,000 to 209,000, by regulating and taxing it. For example, owners of small private restaurants (paladares) can seat no more than 12 people and can only employ family members to help with the work. Set monthly fees must be paid regardless of income earned and frequent inspections yield stiff fines when any of the many self-employment regulations are violated. Rather than expanding private sector opportunities, in recent years, the government has been attempting to squeeze more of these private sector entrepreneurs out of business and back to the public sector. Many have opted to enter the informal economy or black market. In recent years there has developed what is called "urban agriculture", production which takes place on small parcels of land in the cities. Growing organopónicos (organic gardens) in the private sector has been attractive to city dwelling small producers who get to sell their products in the same place where they produce them, avoiding taxes and enjoying a measure of government help from the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) in the form of seed houses and advisers.

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