27 Dec 2011

Cuba expands free-market reforms

9:06 pm on 27 December 2011

Cuba says it is expanding free-market reforms, opening more of the retail services sector to private businesses.

From 1 January workers including carpenters, locksmiths photographers and repairmen will be able to leave the state sector and become self-employed.

They will be able to set their own prices, while paying taxes and leasing their premises from the state.

The BBC reports the measures are the latest reforms aimed at reviving Cuba's socialist economy by boosting private enterprise.

President Raul Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008, says the changes represent an effort to update rather than abandon the socialist model.

His government plans to have up to 40% of the the workforce employed by the non-state sector by 2016, compared with just 10% at the end of 2010.