With its economy shrinking by 11% last year, the worst decline in almost 3 decades as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic that devastated tourism alongside tough sanctions spearheaded by the Untied States of America, Cuba has announced that it will allow private businesses to operate in most industries. In what it calls a major reform to its largely state-controlled economy, Cuban Labor Minister Marta Elena Feito said that the list of authorized industries had grown from just 127 to over 2,000. She said that a minority of industries, just 124, would be reserved for the state, though she did mention which ones. Some economists suggested that industries exempt from private involvement may include sectors such as defense and media.
Due to sanctions and a declining economy, some media outlets reported that some Cubans are lacking access to imported goods such as fuel and machinery, and long queues for access to basic goods are not uncommon. As of now, it is estimated that roughly 13% of the island nation's workforce (about 600,000 people) work in the private sector, employed primarily in transportation, food and beverage, and other tourism-related activities. Officials in Cuba say that they hope that opening the economy to private businesses can help create jobs and kickstart the economy.
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