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12/19/13 - Miami Herald - Cuba lifts all restrictions on motor vehicle sales 

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO 
JTAMAYO@ELNUEVOHERALD.COM


Acknowledging that its attempt to ease some controls on the sale of motor
vehicles had led to "illegalities," the Cuban government announced Thursday
that it was lifting the last restrictions but keeping its monopoly on
imports.

The Granma newspaper said key change will be an end to the requirement that
Cubans buying a new vehicle must first get a hard-to-obtain letter of
approval from the Transportation Ministry - a requirement that led to
backhanded deals.

All controls also will be lifted on the sale of cars, trucks, vans and
motorcycles, both new and old, among both Cubans and foreigners, the
newspaper reported, saying the decision was reached at a Council of
Ministers meeting last week.

Also freed will be the sale of gasoline and diesel motors and body panels
from junk vehicles owned by the state, such as rental car and vans that
have been involved in accidents.

The report on Granma, official voice of the ruling Communist Party, marked
an admission that the half-measures adopted in a reform of the motor
vehicle market two years ago did not work well and led to subterfuges to
get around the remaining controls.

The changes "are additional steps to eliminate restrictions that with time
lost their reason for being," the newspaper reported. "With them,
administrative hurdles that opened spaces for illegalities disappear."

"The low supplies of vehicles, their restriction to a reduced group . and
the existence of another market where prices are many times higher .
generated nonconformity, dissatisfaction . speculation and enrichment," it
added.

All imports and the prices of new vehicles will remain up to the
government, the newspaper noted. Profits will go toward improving mass
transportation.

For half a century, Cubans could only freely buy and sell cars that had
been imported before the 1959 revolution - the main reason why their owners
took so much care to keep them running that the island won fame for its
classic cars.

The state imported all new vehicles and sold them only to selected
individuals - government officials and supporters, military officers and
physicians, especially those who had worked abroad and been able to save up
hard currencies.

Cubans nevertheless bought and sold post-1959 vehicles on the black market
- if stopped by police, the driver could argue that the legal owner had
loaned him the vehicle - until the reforms two years ago first allowed the
sale of used post-1959 vehicles.

Immediately after the reform, tens of thousands of title transfers were
recorded, according to Cuban government figures. The majority were reported
to be illegal transactions made before 2011 and now being legalized.

Cuban ruler Raúl Castro has been moving away from a Soviet styled,
centrally controlled economy and toward more of a market economy since he
officially succeeded ailing brother Fidel in 2008.

He has laid out scores of needed "updates" but proceeded with caution,
drawing complaints that while his diagnosis of Cuba's economic problems has
been correct, his remedies have been too weak and slow.


Original Source / Fuente Original:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/19/3828433/cuba-lifts-all-restrictions-on.html


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