* Increase of 3.1 pct in GDP falls short of plan
* Economic growth forecast at 3.7 percent for 2013
* Reforms' impact a bit below expectations
HAVANA, Dec 3 Growth in the Cuban economy will
come in at 3.1 percent this year, slightly less than the
government's forecast of 3.4 percent as market-oriented reforms
aimed at stimulating the state-dominated economy continue to
perform below expectations.
A summary of a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, and
published Monday by the Communist Party daily, Granma, blamed a
poor performance by the construction sector for the economy's
failure to meet the government's growth target.
"The growth expected will not be reached fundamentally due
to construction, which did not meet its plan," Economy Minister
Adel Yzquierdo was quoted as saying at the meeting.
The article said agriculture had also underperformed.
However, austerity measures and their impact on social
services also appeared partly to blame.
President Raul Castro began to reform the Soviet-style
economy after taking over for his ailing brother, Fidel, in
2008. He has slashed imports by 37.5 percent as his government
has struggled to pay its bills while trying to spur economic
Cuba is reducing the state's administration of the retail
sector in favor of small businesses and cooperatives, and is
leasing vast tracks of fallow land to would-be farmers.
The government wants to cut 20 percent of the 5 million
strong state labor force, which accounts for around 85 percent
of all workers, and move them into "non-state" jobs in retail
services and food production.
The country registered $2 billion surpluses for each of 2009
and 2010 in its current account, which measures the inflow and
outflow of foreign exchange, reversing a $500 million deficit in
No information was available for 2011, but local economists
said the positive trend continued even as official statistics
revealed steep cuts in social services.
Cuba's unique formula for calculating economic growth
includes estimates of the worth of free health and education.
Granma said social services remained at 2011 levels, but
then quoted Izquierdo as stating, "the rest of the economy grew
4.5 percent, which is in line with our policy of increasing
material production and guaranteeing social services with
Growth was 2.7 percent in 2011, compared with the
government's 3 percent forecast, while plans call for the
economy to grow 3.7 percent in 2013, Granma reported.
The government had hoped that by 2013 the economy would be
growing by at least 5 percent as market-oriented reforms kicked
in, Communist Party sources said.
Local economists say the economy must grow by more than 5
percent to overcome the damage wrought by the years of crisis
that followed the demise of Cuba's former benefactor, the Soviet