“We want to sustain a work style against bureaucracy and obstacles, in permanent contact with the grassroots, because the best time is spent exchanging with the people,” the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, stated during a meeting to summarize the findings of a two-day government visit to Las Tunas.
Ricardo Cabrisas, a vice president of the Council of Ministers, pointed out that Las Tunas’ Muebles Ludema furniture enterprise could consider an increase in its production, and seek that investors in the hotels where its products are currently used promote them in their investments in third countries.
Another sector that caught authorities’ attention was fishing, where an increase in shrimp production must be sought. Cabrisas also called for encouraging the export of honey and its derivatives, and in the case of charcoal, he insisted on the need to move to more valuable formats such as briquettes.
Another element that was given special attention was housing, as it was reported that in this territory there remain 8,096 cases of damage yet to be resolved following Hurricane Ike, and 672 in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Although strategies exist, such as the promotion of housing developments in all municipalities, and a boost to local production of construction materials, the Cuban President recalled that, when people can’t see the solution to their problems, they don’t believe that there has been any progress.
Regarding the development of self-sufficiency, it was learned that Las Tunas province today has 31 agricultural productive poles distributed throughout its territory, and that the plan is to close 2019 with a figure of 22 pounds per capita of locally grown produce.
On this point, Díaz-Canel insisted that cassava cultivation should be increased, based on the availability of seeds, an issue raised by several producers. With cassava, he noted, we need a sufficient harvest that allows us, on the one hand, to guarantee the supply for the population and, on the other, to be able to produce flour from it.
Inés María Chapman, a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, referred to the progress of investments made in water resources, specifically the Jesús Menéndez water-treatment plant.
She also highlighted the difficult situation faced by the province due to drought, which has led to the use of alternative means in more than 400 communities, including water trucks or trains to guarantee the water supply.
Meanwhile, Roberto Morales Ojeda, also a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, explained that the hospital improvement program is set to continue, including the construction of a maternity hospital, works on which stopped in the Special Period, in order to lower the burden on the Ernesto Guevara provincial hospital. “This year we must start at least the first stage of that work,” he stressed.
Due to its impact on the country’s economy, the progress of the sugar harvest was evaluated, as well as the importance of providing more direct monitoring of sugar mills in the south of the province. Las Tunas has the largest production of sugar derivatives in the country, standing at 16 products, of which 14 have met plans. Among the biggest challenges in this regard is the certification of Amancio rums, with more competitive market quality standards.
DEALING WITH FUEL THEFT
The President of the Councils of State and Ministers also held a meeting with Las Tunas directors to analyze the theft of fuel in the province and its impact on the national economy.
We must be more aware of the damage caused by this harmful phenomenon, and be more severe in confronting it, the President stressed. Beyond organizational problems, lies the lack of control that often generates impunity, he noted. No one can see this issue as something normal, “We have to change this attitude now,” he insisted.
How many more things could we do with the fuel that today is stolen from state entities, he asked.
As such, we need to ensure order and control regarding the use of this important resource, he insisted. Díaz-Canel offered the example of irregularities detected in the use of bank cards to purchase gasoline at service stations, with FINCIMEX gathering daily data on “suspicious” transactions throughout the country, which is then published online. He pointed out that managers must frequently review this information as a work tool to act on any issue that is identified.
The Cuban President also referred to the low levels of fuel sales to private car owners at gas stations, which indicates the existence of a “black market” through which they are constantly supplied. The non-state sector must exist, he stressed, but legally.
Minister of Energy and Mines, Raúl García Barreiro, reported that some 500 actions to confront this situation have been undertaken in Las Tunas, and 36% of inspections rated the issue as inadequately managed. Among recurring issues are the poor planning of consumption rates according to activity levels, the falsification of the number of kilometers traveled, a lack of control and of correlation between road maps and fuel consumed. The entities with the greatest problems identified in the province were the Sugar and Communit
y Services Enterprise Groups.