Cuba will temporarily stop issuing permits for some private businesses, the communist government said on Tuesday in its official Granma newspaper.
Authorities said the government is implementing new measures in an attempt to bring order to its emerging private sector that employs more than 500,000 workers that has helped to modernize the island's fragile economy. The measures involve the suspension of licenses for restaurants and tourist rentals such as rooms in private homes, to control "irregularities" according to the government. Authorities also said professional categories in which autonomous work could be developed would be simplified to make them more inclusive. In 2010, Raul Castro launched reforms to update socialism and reduce the large number of state employees.
More than 200 professions were authorized to develop self-employment, but critics said the excessive specificity of permitted trades - such as "vendor of artificial flowers" or "natural fruit peeler" - restrict the possibility of private activities.
"These decisions do not constitute a setback in the development of private activities. These measures will consolidate the organization and the control of self-employment so that it continues to grow in an orderly and efficient way," Marta Elena Made, deputy prime minister of labor and social security, told Granma.
The government said businesses that are already in operation could continue, without specifying when it would resume the permit issuance. According to official data published Tuesday, 567,982 workers are "self-employed" in Cuba, including hundreds of restaurants and guest houses.
The emerging private sector represents 12 percent of the country's workforce, of which 32 percent are young and 33 percent are women.
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