Surprise! Rulers of Castrolandia seem to have no real interest in reform!
Oh no! It can't be true! The reforms set in motion by the rulers of Castrolandia are being undermined by the very same old men who initiated such reforms! It seems that the elderly owners of the largest slave plantation in the Western hemisphere have no real interest in creating a free market, and that their sole objective in privatizing some ventures was to fatten their own coffers rather than to improve the lives of their slaves. Oh, my God! Dios mio! What a surprise! Why didn't anyone on earth see this coming? Oh, Julia, oh Phil, oh Cuba experts, what is going on? Tell us please, oh wise ones. You got some 'esplainin' to do.
From Fox News Lateeeeen-oh: Import Taxes are Killing Entrepreneurship in Castrolandia
HAVANA – Just as life seemed to be getting a little easier and some restrictions on business were lifted in Cuba, a sudden jump in import taxes on Monday threatens to make life tougher for some of the country's new entrepreneurs and will mean higher prices for many of their customers by raising the cost of goods ranging from jungle-print blouses to jewelry.
The new measures steeply hike duties on cargo shipments, as well as on many bulk goods brought in by airline passengers, a crucial supply line for many of the small businesses the government has been trying to encourage as it cuts a bloated workforce in the socialist economy.
Officials insist the taxes are similar to those in other countries, but many small-business owners view the change as an ominous sign.
While the published official description seems aimed at items such as clothing, soap, food and other personal-use goods, it is so complex it leaves importers of other products unsure if they will be affected, now or in the future.
Some of the entrepreneurs, such as Javier Ernesto Matos, say they have prepared for the blow by stocking up on parts before the tax takes effect.
He also has prepared for a worst-case scenario if supply dries up entirely: "It's pretty shocking, but the strategy we have in mind is to consolidate in a single shop and leave prices the same to recoup what we can from our investment," said Matos, who together with two business partners operates three mobile phone repair shops called the Cellphone Clinic.
Others say they'll have no choice but to raise prices. That, along with the higher taxes on goods brought in by friends, has worried consumers in a country where the average monthly wage is about $20.
"For our family these are important items, from a little soap to a backpack for school," a woman identified as Loraine wrote on the state-run Cubadebate website. "We all make sacrifices to help them. Nothing falls from the sky. Why are they turning their backs on reality? Knowing how many shortages there are in the country, why be so strict?"
While President Raúl Castro has tried to expand the private sector, the government has done little to provide wholesale outlets where businesses can buy parts and materials for the goods they sell, so many supplies are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive due to high government retail markups.
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