| HAVANA, April 28
HAVANA, April 28 Cuba plans to reduce spending
further in 2018 following two years of budget cuts, the ruling
Communist Party newspaper Granma wrote on Friday, as a deepening
crisis in socialist ally Venezuela puts the squeeze on its
The Caribbean island began to slash imports and reduce the
use of fuel and electricity last year, sending its centrally
planned economy into recession for the first time in nearly a
"The basic premise (of the 2018 plan) is to meet production
and service goals through efficiency and a lowering of costs to
levels less than in 2017," Granma wrote on Friday, citing a
presentation of Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas to the Council
In the wake of the 2014 crash in oil prices, Venezuela has
reduced shipments of subsidized fuel to communist-run Cuba, as
well as payments for Cuban professional services.
Other oil-producing allies, such as Angola and Algeria, also
find themselves short of cash to pay for Cuban services.
A boom in tourism has not been enough to stem the
hemorrhaging of hard currency in a country embargoed by the
United States. Cuba does not publish up-to-date information on
its debt, balance of payments and current account.
Cuban President Raul Castro admitted a year ago that the
country was strapped for cash, adding in December that it was
having trouble paying suppliers and thanking them for their
The economy shrank 1 percent last year, he said, after
averaging 3 percent growth the previous four years.
Relatively minor gas shortages appeared this month and the
supply of imported consumer goods has been irregular this year.
Diplomats and foreign businessmen said some joint venture
partners were having problems repatriating profits as state-run
banks were short of cash to send abroad.
"It was reiterated that the plan (2018) must be objective,
adjusted for the resources the country has," Granma wrote.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Dan Grebler)