Luis Sexto's commentary on bureaucratism, a translation of which I posted on January 18, dealt with the rationalisation of the state-sector workforce that is now underway and warned against the bureaucratic distortion of this process. The first Granma letter below takes issue with the decision to allow the director of an enterprise or entity to override the commission tasked with deciding which workers will remain in their jobs. It is another example of the Cuban press providing space for critical views.
The second letter comments on the proposal in the Draft Economic and Social Policy Guidelines to empower the municipal Peoples Power administrations to levy taxes on state enterprises, cooperatives, small private businesses and the self-employed, making local governments less dependent on funding from the central state administration and giving them greater autonomy to set their own spending priorities. If this proposal is endorsed by the 6th Communist Party Congress in April and implemented, it would dismantle a pillar of the pervasive administrative "verticalism" that stunts the full flowering of Cuba's socialist democracy — to the degree that such a flowering is possible in conditions of imperialist blockade and encirclement.
The only thing I disagree with
Granma letter published November 19, 2010
Translation: Marce Cameron
Regarding everything to do with the huge task that is upon us of reorganising the workforce [i.e. the rationalisation of the state-sector workforce], the only thing I disagree with is in Resolution 35 of the Ministry of Work and Social Security (MTSS), the part that empowers the director of an entity to impose their will over the proposal of the Commission of Experts.
In the study of management techniques it is often shown, through practical exercises, that teamwork is more effective than an individual.
I think that once the recommendations of the Commission of Experts has been handed down it would be correct, in cases where there director of an entity disagrees with the recommendations, to express their opinion before the Commission of Experts, which would then be obliged to re-evaluate its proposal taking into account these arguments.
We should remember the composition of this Commission: the administration, the trade union and outstanding workers selected by the work collective. This makes it difficult for the process to carry the seal of nepotism. On the contrary, what a director decides is going to be more nepotistic than not.
What weight will the opinion of the secretary of the trade union section have in a decision of the director that is supported by a resolution of the MTSS? None, in my opinion.
J. R. Reynaldo Sanchez
Greater accountability through local administration
Granma letter published November 12, 2010
Translation: Marce Cameron
The decision to allow local governments to levy territorial taxes [on state enterprises based in the municipality] and collect taxes on self-employment is transcendental and a strategic advance.
The lack of a mechanism such as this has opened up a chasm between the individual interests of the neighbours and the interests of the locality; and even between the interests of the locality and the national interest one can perceive resignation and acts of pure administrative discipline when small solutions [to local problems] cannot be financed without national approval.
This has led to the flourishing of apathy and the loss of the sense of ownership of the localities, and is one of the causes of the degradation of the local environment by many citizens. The immediate surroundings, the apartment block, the public square, the marginal neighbourhood, the barrio are all victims of this aggressiveness.
This uncaring attitude has been imposing itself on our social representations and on the required popular participation, real and effective, of the residents.
We hope that the [administrative decentralisation foreshadowed in the Draft Guidelines] allows us to make full and just use of these financial resources in the base jurisdictions [i.e. the popular councils and the municipal assemblies of People's Power], or are the provincial authorities going to dictate to us so many prohibitions knowingly imposed out of fear that we can't administer ourselves properly in the municipalities?
The point is that flowing from the implementation of this decision we could take timely action to confront problems in the community in the local jurisdictions [i.e. the popular councils] that constitute the municipal government, elevating with it the political consensus of the citizens and facilitating the mobilisation of the neighbours to carry out tactical tasks and those of daily communal life. It needs to be taken into account that "socialism won't fall from the sky because it has to be built from the ground up".
By strengthening real and effective popular participation, the work of Popular Power [local government] could be multiplied several times. And the expansion of self-employment would be very educational for the citizens who would see their community grow through the contribution of their efforts.