As Reuters reports, Raoul Castro is taking some appropriate steps forward during this time of economic turmoil. Now government workers in Cuba won't be eligible for retirement until 65, fully ten years after former Canadian MPs are eligible for their government pension.
Cuban President Raul Castro called on Saturday for austerity measures including fewer subsidies for workers and stricter management to pull the country out of an economic morass aggravated this year by three hurricanes and the global financial crisis.
He told a year-end meeting of the National Assembly the government would cut official trips abroad by 50 percent and eliminate programs that reward good workers with free vacation trips but cost the government $60 million a year...
Before his speech, the assembly voted to raise the age at which workers can retire with a government pension by five years, to 65 for men and 60 for women. Officials said the change was needed because Cuba's population was aging rapidly due to a declining birth rate and immigration.
Castro said Cuban managers need to demand more from their workers, who receive free education and health care and subsidized food rations but on average earn only $20 a month.
"I have arrived at the conclusion that one of our big problems is a lack of systemic demand," said Castro.
He expressed dissatisfaction with the system of subsidies for those who can work, but do not, saying government handouts discourage Cubans from being more productive.