Cuban National Assembly holds last session of 2008
Cuba held their last National Assembly of 2008 today, and the government projected a number of changes that will take place in 2009.
They stated that their economy will grow by 6 percent, after a disappointing 2008, even though that figure is based on tentative plans because of the growing financial crisis all across the world. The government stated that more discipline is needed to get through the econonmic hardships as the trade deficit continues to grow and the cost of repairs ffrom the three hurricances has totaled $10 billion.
"The year coming to an end has been without doubt one of the most difficult since the special period began," Rodriguez said, referring to the years of economic crisis that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's key benefactor.
Despite the difficulties, he said, Cuba's economy grew 4.3 percent in 2008 -- about half the government forecast of 8 percent.
Highlights included a 9.3 percent increase in the number of tourists, to 2.35 million, and a 7.2 percent rise in exports of goods and services. Also, officials said oil and gas production had increased 1.6 percent.
However, demands for nickel fell 41 percent, which totals $250 million in revenue, and the budget deficit rose to 6.7 percent, which was higher than expected.