Cuba’s cash-strapped government will start selling cars in tradeable currencies rather than in convertible Cuban pesos from Feb. 24 as it continues to introduce the American dollar in swathes of its retail sector.
The country’s inefficient state-run economy is going through a liquidity crisis due to the implosion of ally Venezuela’s economy and the tightening of the decades-old US trade embargo under President Donald Trump.
In recent months, the government has opened around 80 “dollar stores” selling some of the items such as home appliances and car parts that it must buy abroad in tradeable currencies.
Finance Minister Meisi Bolaños Weiss said there would be a discount of 10 percent on the current price in convertible pesos, although that means they will remain at a huge mark-up given the current mark ups of 400 percent or more.
That means modern cars will not crowd out the 1950s vintage Chevys and Soviet-era Ladas that still dominate Cuba’s streets any time soon. The profit will go towards a fund for improving Cuba’s inadequate public transportation.
The price of imported vehicles is prohibitive for almost all Cubans as they range from $15,000 to $110,000 in a country where the average annual salary is less than $6,000.