Cuba announced this Thursday that it will give up on an unpopular proposal to increase public transport fares, altering a recently announced plan to raise prices on the island, whose economy is highly controlled by the State.
The announcement came a day after the communist government postponed another controversial five-fold increase in the price of gasoline planned for February 1, saying a cyber attack outside the country had hampered implementation of the proposal.
“Since the price of fuel remains the same, (public) transport prices will be maintained,” Walter Luis Duvergel, director of Viajero, one of the island’s public transport companies, told state television on Thursday.
Authorities at the Ministry of Transport planned increases in public bus, plane and train fares for March 1, but have now stated that the adjustments will be postponed until further notice.
The delays undermine the broad plan of increases that the government has said is necessary to control the growing fiscal deficit. Critics said the measures are inflationary, untimely and occur without compensation to encourage national production, which is facing problems.
The increases, initially announced in December and early January, have shaken the country, where residents have long depended on a vast subsidy program for food, fuel and medicine.
Many Cubans, who are already facing financial difficulties amid a serious economic crisis and widespread shortages of products, breathed a sigh of relief with the postponement of the increases.
“It’s the least (they could do),” said Ismaray Guevara, a 38-year-old Havana resident, who was preparing for a taxi ride this Friday. “I hope (prices) stay where they are, because our salaries really aren’t enough for anything.”
The government also announced increases for liquefied gas, used for cooking, and electricity for the wealthiest consumers in the coming months, promising protection for the vulnerable.
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