The economic revitalization of Cuba is going through a phase during which small and medium private businesses are being empowered by Havana and obstacles imposed by Washington on Cuban economic growth are being relaxed, the Cuba Study Group said Thursday.

"An orderly, market-oriented economic reform process is decidedly in the best interests of Cuba, the United States and the region," the organization said the paper "Supporting Small Business in Cuba: Recommendations for Private and Public Sector Leaders," produced in cooperation with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International.

The Cuba Study Group is a Washington-based organization of businessmen of Cuban origin who are seeking a peaceful reunification of the Cuban people within the framework of the rule of law and a market economy.

The CSG recommended that Cuban authorities learn the lessons of China, Vietnam and Singapore and support the development of small and medium businesses in the private sector as a way to achieve sustainable growth.

It also proposed the creation of a $50 million microloan fund for Cuban citizens who want to open small or medium businesses.

In addition, it assessed the recent economic reforms undertaken by the government of Raul Castro "to allow greater private economic activity to reduce government expenditures, increase productivity and raise wages."

In September 2010, Havana announced the elimination of up to 1.3 million jobs at state-run companies and the creation of 178 new categories of self-employment.

"If fully enacted, these reforms will constitute the most far-reaching economic remodeling in Cuba in half a century," the white paper says.

The Cuban government, according to the paper, should "adopt consistent pro-entrepreneur policies; take steps to guard against unexpected inflation; and promote access to foreign capital and technical know-how through multinational financial institutions, NGOs, development banks and other international partners."

The investigative center, which was founded in 2000, said it is hopeful that these proposals will be analyzed at the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, set for April 16-19 in Havana.

In addition, it emphasized the importance of the Barack Obama administration's relaxation of restrictions imposed by the 48-year-old U.S. economic embargo on the island, and it acknowledged the value of the recent decisions to liberalize remittances and travel.

"As the Cuban government begins to reform its economy to allow greater private economic activity and self-employment, the U.S. government must evaluate the impact of its economic sanctions on small business development in Cuba."

Among the measures the organization recommended to Washington are modifying the restrictions on exports, authorizing bilateral banking operations and facilitating Cuba's entry into multilateral organizations.



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