Interview with Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Minister of Economy and Planning, following December session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, where 2017 and 2018 state budgets and economic plans were addressed – Plus facts and figures
For many, knowing that Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 1.6% in 2017, and that the figure projected for 2018 is around 2%, means, at the least, that the rate is still far removed from that needed to move along the path to development. Specialists have repeatedly said that this requires sustained levels of growth above 5%.
Others, nonetheless, see these figures as simply “numbers,” perhaps “small,” not providing much basis for an evaluation, not aware that the GDP is “a macro-economic indicator that includes the country’s total production of goods and services, measured according to their value, after deducting the intermediate consumption required for the process of production,” as explained by Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, a Council of Ministers vice president and head of Economy and Planning.
“Its expression in current terms is based on the record of transactions at the year’s real prices. Disregarding price changes, it is calculated in constant terms with the goal of evaluating growth in activity, taking as a reference the prices of a given year.
“Toward this end, GDP growth rates announced in the recently concluded National Assembly of People’s Power are expressed in constant terms, that is, variations in prices are eliminated, allowing the actual performance of the economy to be described.
“The GDP is disaggregated by types of activities: agriculture, industry, construction, transportation, commerce, tourism, public health, education… There should be correspondence between the growth rates of different activities, since they are related to each other.
“If the economy were to grow without considering this principle, imbalances could be created that lead to wasting resources, among other aspects. Agricultural production, for example, is linked to industry, direct sales to the population, and exports. Transportation activity, to cite one case, must reflect these relations. Production to satisfy the direct needs of the population must be in step with other activities involved in the entire process.
“Growth in Cuba’s GDP is often compared to that of other countries, noting important differences in some cases, but the balanced distribution of this wealth is not always acknowledged. In the majority of countries, extreme concentration of distribution exists, with a few enjoying that which many do not, even in terms of basic services such as health, education, and food.