Cuban growth rate falls short of forecast


Havana : Cuba registered a growth rate of 7.5 percent against an official forecast of 10 percent with both agriculture and construction sectors badly hit by weather, Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez has said, Spain’s EFE agency reported Saturday.

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Rodriguez, tabling the economic survey report and budgetary policy at the plenary session of the country’s parliament Thursday, said the economy performed well in 2007 despite a nearly 24 percent hike in the cost of imported food and an increase of more than seven percent in oil prices.

Cuba, which reported growth of 12.5 percent in 2006, expected its economy to slow down to 10 percent but remain among the strongest in the region, an official report in March this year had said.

Its vital tourism industry felt the pinch this year owing to a warm European winter and cheaper destinations elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Although the economy grew at a rate less than expected, the minister said, “This level of growth is significant.” He pointed out that exports of goods and services were up 24.8 percent as compared with a 2 percent increase in imports.

The minister offered no statistics on the tourism sector, one of the country’s chief sources of revenue, which, according to a report by Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, grew by 6.3 percent.

Cuba’s Communist Party government calculates its GDP using a formula that takes into account the broad range of public services provided to citizens at no cost.

Though many contend Havana’s economic statistics are unreliable, Rodriguez said Friday that Cuba’s current GDP gauge is “perfectly comparable to that of any country in the world.”