Raúl Castro addressing the openning session of the 7th Congress of PCC.
The development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological resolve, constitute the principal missions of the Communist Party of Cuba, First Secretary Raúl Castro said, during the inaugural session of the 7th Party Congress.
PCC First Secretary Raúl Castro Ruz, presented the Central Report to the 7th Congress, after evoking the 55th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution, on April 16, 1961, on the eve of the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón, which was defeated in less than 72 hours, with Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz on the front lines, and noted that participating in the event were 1,000 delegates and some 280 invitees, representing the Party’s 600,000 members, organized in 54,000 grassroots units.
The first Secretary noted that the Congress would include the presentation of four principal draft documents, work on several of which began after the previous Congress: the conceptualization of Cuba’s socio-economic model; the development plan through 2030; a report on the implementation of the guidelines over the last five years and their updating for the period 2016-2020; and an analysis of Party objectives approved at the First National Party Conference.
These documents, he insisted, must not be considered finished works, or an ideological prism, but will be enriched during the commissions’ debates, and subsequently submitted to periodic review, maintaining a dynamic vision of their content.
On this occasion, he clarified, a major process of public debate and consultation on these documents was not held, because they are considered a continuation of the lines agreed upon five years ago, to update the country’s socio-economic model.
Additionally, he said, these documents reflect the collective work of many different professionals, and were analyzed during two Central Committee Plenums, a process which led to the submission of 900 opinions and suggestions, included in the latest version.
Raúl noted that this is the first time a Party Congress has considered the conceptualization of the country’s socio-economic model, one which outlines the essential foundations of the society to which we aspire, to be reached via the process of updating underway.
The conceptualization and the basis of the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, following their analysis during the Congress, will not be approved at this event, but rather will go on to be debated by Party and Young Communist League members, representatives of mass organizations and different sectors of society, with the aim of enriching and perfecting said plan, Raúl noted.
The Army General requested that the 7th Congress authorize the Central Committee to introduce the modifications resulting from this consultation process and the final approval by the National Assembly of People’s Power.
Regarding progress in the implementation of the Guidelines, Raúl noted that since they were approved it was made clear that “the process of implementation will not be an easy path, free of obstacles and contradictions,” and that the fundamental transformations in the updating of the economic model would take over five years to implement, which in practice has been demonstrated.
Regarding the main obstacles encountered during this process, he mentioned out-dated mindsets and resistant attitudes.
Efforts to implement the Guidelines have been systematic, he stated, adding that 21% of the 313 approved guidelines have been implemented, while 77% are in the process and 2% have yet to be initiated.
However, he admitted, the slow implementation of legal regulations and their assimilation, has delayed approved policies in practice.
The principle that no one will be left uncared for, determines the updating of the Cuban economic model, undeniably impacted by the global economic crisis and the effects of the U.S. blockade, he added.
Economic decisions can not mean a break with the ideals of social justice of the nation or undermine the unity of the majority of the people around the Party, nor as a result of these measures should instability and uncertainty be generated in the population, he noted.
FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY
Referring to the dual currency system in the country, one of the main economic obstacles, Raúl stressed that work in this area has not ceased, and the solution will not be put off indefinitely.
Rectifying this situation, along with other structural distortions of the Cuban economy, will be key to driving forward progress in terms of growth and further development, he noted.
The change to the monetary system will facilitate creating conditions to overcome the adverse effects of egalitarianism and at the same time make the socialist principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work” a reality.
Among the broader legal norms approved between the Sixth Congress of the PCC and this edition, the new Foreign Investment Law is an important engine of the economy. In this regard, Raúl stressed that in addition to the advantages that Law No.118 offers investors, this guarantees national sovereignty at all times.
The creation of the Mariel Special Development Zone, as a major means of attracting national and foreign investors, is also one of the noteworthy steps in this process, given its ability to generate employment and long-term financing.
Raúl emphasized that, without underestimating in the least the obstacle of the U.S. blockade and its extraterritorial application, archaic prejudices must be left behind, in approaching the new stage in the thawing of relations between the two countries.
Broadly speaking, in terms of foreign investment, the President noted that the focus of investments has changed substantially. For example, while five years ago, levels of investment in the productive sphere and infrastructure reached 45%, in 2015, these areas accumulated 70% of total foreign investment.
He also highlighted that the recognition of the market is not at all at odds with the socialist economy, nor does this mean that the Party, the government and mass organizations will cease to act in situations that negatively affect the population. On the contrary, they should help prevent these from manifesting.
Amid these circumstances, Raúl noted that in general, “salaries and pensions are still insufficient to meet the needs of the Cuban family,” despite having seen growth in the period from 2010 to 2015.
However, he acknowledged that it has not been possible to extend the budgeted wage increases to the majority of the activities outlined in the approved policy.