HAVANA: Venezuela’s economic crisis pushed Cuba into recession in 2016 for the first time in years, President Raul Castro said Tuesday.
Cuba’s economy contracted by 0.9 percent, compared to the 4.4 percent growth the government reported a year earlier, Castro told the National Assembly.
Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally and economic supporter, is in the grip of a dire economic crisis spurred by low prices for oil—the country’s main export.
Venezuela cut Cuba’s oil supplies this year by 40 percent.
“Limits on petroleum supplies and financial tensions worsened in the second half of the year, leading to a GDP contraction of 0.9 percent,” Castro said.
It was the first time since 1995 that the Americas’ only one-party Communist government reported negative growth.
In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the former Soviet bloc, Cuba’s economy contracted on the order of 15 percent in one year.
Castro said that despite tough economic times, social services continued to remain free, and he forecast growth of about two percent in 2017.
Venezuela is in its third year of recession and has the highest inflation in the world, which the IMF forecast could hit 475 percent this year. AFP