September 12, 2011
HAVANA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- New decrees and regulations approved last May to ease self-employment restrictions came into force Saturday, according to the Official Gazette of the government.
The new regulations extended categories of legal private activities, such as street vending, insurance agents and party organizers.
Private street vendors are now allowed to sell farm products. In the past decades, only the government was allowed to purchase, distribute and sell food.
The new regulations also cover important issues of social security taxes, labor hiring and house rental.
Self-employed workers are now allowed to make social security contributions over 10 years compared to two years in the past.
Self-employed women aged 60 or above and men aged 65 or above are exempted from the obligation of joining the special social security program, and the taxes they paid to the program will be returned.
Small business owners are exempted from payment obligations for the first five workers they hire.
Another change is the reduction of minimum monthly tax for renting rooms, from 200 to 150 Cuban pesos (7.08 to 5.31 U.S. dollars).
Landlords may also apply for a three- to six-month license suspension, during which they may conduct necessary repair work or refurbishment.
Small private restaurants and coffee shops are also permitted by the new decrees to place a maximum of 50 tables compared to 30 in the past.
So far, over 320,000 Cubans have chosen to try their fortune in private businesses which are emerging in Havana and changing the country's economic landscape.