The Cuban government announced yesterday that it will allow small- and medium-size private businesses to advertise in the next edition of Cuba’s national phonebook. To list a business name, address and up to two phone numbers in the back of the book, the state telephone monopoly Etecsa will charge the equivalent of $10, a steep fee in a country where the average salary is $20 per month. The deadline for reserving ad space in the 2012 phonebook is December 23.
“The insertion of the services of the non-state sector into the Telephone Directory helps satisfy the demand for that information,” reported Granma, Cuba’s Communist Party newspaper. The government’s decision comes as a result of extensive economic reforms in the last two years that have created a space for private enterprise in Cuba. This was done to stimulate the island’s struggling economy after the government began laying off thousands of public-sector workers last fall. Since then, more than 346,000 private businesses have been created.
But a study published by the Center for Democracy in the Americas in November found that the Castro government’s reforms, particularly creating opportunities for a new private sector, will not be enough to address Cuba’s economic woes. Cuba’s New Resolve: Economic Reform and its Implications for U.S. Policy finds that Cubans will require job training and skill development to operate their business’ successfully.