12/25/13 - Cayman Net News - Cuba opens up its market to foreign cars
Vintage vehicles like these may soon disappear from Cuba's streets as the
island relaxes restrictions on people buying foreign cars.
Cuba is loosening restrictions on people buying foreign-made new and used
cars, according to state media.
Cubans will no longer need government permits to buy modern cars from state
Until new regulations in 2011, people could only sell cars built before the
Private property has been severely restricted on the Communist-run island
since 1959. The changes are part of a shake-up of Cuba's struggling
Following reforms adopted two years ago, Cubans can buy and sell used cars
from each other, but must request authorisation from the government to
purchase a new vehicle or a second-hand one from state-controlled
Priority for the permits was given to people "in positions of benefit to
the government", such as doctors and diplomats.
But the Communist Party newspaper, Granma, said the Council of Ministers
approved new regulations that "eliminate existing mechanisms of approval
for the purchase of motor vehicles from the state".
As a result, the paper said, "the retail sale of new and used motorcycles,
cars, vans, small trucks and mini buses for Cubans and foreign residents,
companies and diplomats is freed up".
People who already have permits are expected to be given priority, however.
And buyers will still need to purchase vehicles through state retailers.
Cubans and foreigners will not be able to import their own cars.
The new regulations will be published in the official Gazette in the coming
days and become law 30 days later, according to Reuters.
"Yeah, I can buy it, but with what? Unfortunately our economy doesn't allow
us to save money to be able to buy it," the news agency quoted Havana
resident Jorge Canso as saying.
The move is part of a series of reforms driven by President Raul Castro
aimed at updating the Cuban economic model.
Raul Castro has championed limited free-market reforms since taking the
reins of power from his brother Fidel in 2008.
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