* Economic growth just short of forecast
* Trade surplus seen for third consecutive year
* Government adopts measures to boost food output
HAVANA, Dec 2 Cuba's economy will end the year
up 2.7 percent, state media reported on Friday, an improvement
over the 2.1 percent increase registered in 2010 but a bit less
than the 2.9 percent forecast by the government.
Granma, the Communist party newspaper, blamed
investment-related construction problems for the less than
expected performance. It cited a recently concluded meeting of
the Council of Ministers which adopted economic plans and a
budget for 2012, without providing further details.
The newspaper said budget deficit reduction would also fall
short of plans this year, due mainly to lower than expected
revenue from sales taxes, indicating internal trade did not
perform as anticipated.
Cuban President Raul Castro has been leading an effort to
reform the communist-run country's Soviet-style economy as it
struggles with heavy debt and stagnation.
Castro, since taking over for his ailing brother Fidel in
2008, has drastically cut imports while promoting domestic
production and exports.
Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca said a month
ago that trade was up 27 percent through September, compared
with the same period in 2010, and on track toward a third
Reserves at the Bank for International Settlements stood at
$5.649 billion in June, double what they were three years ago.
Granma reported on Friday that the government meeting
concluded that efforts to improve domestic food production,
through a series of reforms, had not gone far enough. Combined
with higher international prices, that was undermining efforts
to cut imports that cover 60 percent to 70 percent of domestic
Granma said the government meeting, chaired by Castro,
adopted "a group of measures to eliminate immediately problems
affecting Basic Units of Cooperative Production," a form of
farming cooperatives established on state-owned lands.
The paper said measures were also approved modifying a
land-lease program, which grants small plots of land to new
farmers for 10 years, in order "to encourage the incorporation,
permanence and stability of the labor force and guarantee the
permanent settlements of the farmers' families."
Farmers have complained the leases are too short, the
acreage is too small and that a ban on building permanent
structures on the land works against increasing production.