Cuba allows private management of state-owned restaurants

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Continuing on the path of gradual economic reform, the government announced a new system of private management for small, state-owned restaurants.

The move comes after limited pilot projects over the past two years, in which employees took over operations of some restaurants.

Under the new system, existing employees as of Dec. 1 can turn into entrepreneurs by renting the restaurant they work for, plus equipment, from the government, according to an article in official daily Granma. The tenants will be responsible for paying utility bills as well as repairs and maintenance. The measure is intended to provide new jobs and improve the quality of services, daily Granma quote a government official as saying.

Rental arrangements will begin in restaurants with up to five employees first, in the provinces of Artemisa, Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila. Leases can be for up to 10 years, which may be extended; no subleases are allowed. The new entrepreneurs have to register with the tax office; they will be tax-exempt for the first three months of operations. The amounts of rent will be determined by municipal governments. Tenants who renovate the facility may be exempt from having to pay rent for the first year. The privately-run restaurants and kiosks will also be allowed to sell tobacco products.

Three resolutions by the domestic trade, finance and labor ministries that regulate the new system were published in the Nov. 5 issue of the Gaceta Oficial.

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