Mon, Aug 07, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Cuban ministry stops issuing some business permits

AP, HAVANA

Cuban authorities have ordered the closure of one of the island’s fastest-growing cooperatives, days after announcing that they would stop issuing new permits for some private enterprise.

Scenius, which provides accounting and business consulting services, is to have until Dec. 31 to completely liquidate, founder and director Luis Duenas told reporters on Saturday.

Duenas said that the Ministry of Finances and Prices told him the decision to close Scenius was “based on an analysis of our social purpose, or of the activities that we have approved.”

Duenas called the decision an “error” that has no place in the policy of economic opening announced by Cuban officials.

On Tuesday, Cuba’s government said it would suspend the issuance of permits for a range of occupations and ventures, including restaurants and renting out rooms in private homes.

The suspension included the growing field of private teachers, as well as street vendors of agricultural products, dressmakers and the relatively recent profession of real-estate broker.

The announcement did not say when the issuing of permits would resume and said that enterprises already in operation could continue.

Cuban President Raul Castro expanded an opening of the economy to private-sector employment in 200 categories of business in 2010. It later also legalized nonagricultural cooperatives.

The government has said nearly 570,000 people are employed in the enterprises, which include hundreds of restaurants and guest houses.

The latest moves have created fears that Cuba is putting the brakes on plans to reform its centrally planned economy, though officials said the country is not going back on its economic opening.

Duenas regretted that Scenius’ closing occurred days after the package of restrictions on independent work.

“There are many ways to do things, timing is very important and the country is greatly affected by these things,” Duenas said.

Scenius began in January 2015 with two or three partners and in two years had more than 200. All its 70 clients are state-owned enterprises or business groups in agriculture, industry and communications.

According to official figures, there are more than 400 non-agricultural cooperatives in Cuba.

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