March 30, 2014 in Nation/World

Cuba approves changes to foreign investment laws

Associated Press
 

HAVANA – Cuban lawmakers on Saturday approved a law aimed at making Cuba more attractive to foreign investors, a measure seen as vital for the island’s struggling economy.

Meeting in an extraordinary session, parliament replaced a 1995 foreign investment law that has lured less overseas capital than the island’s communist leaders had hoped.

Cuba’s GDP expanded 2.7 percent last year, below targets and weak for a developing nation. Government officials say the economy needs 5 to 7 percent annual growth to develop properly.

“Cuba needs from $2 billion to $2.5 billion a year in direct foreign investment to advance its socialist socio-economic model, prosperous and sustainable,” said Marino Murillo, a vice president and the czar of President Raul Castro’s economic reforms.

Foreign media were not given access to the closed-door meeting.

Some details of the legislation emerged in official media in recent days. Among other things, it would cut taxes on profits by about half, to 15 percent, and make companies exempt from paying taxes for the first eight years of operation.

An exception would affect companies that exploit natural resources, such as nickel or fossil fuels. They could pay taxes as high as 50 percent.

Meanwhile, many foreigners doing business with the island would be exempt from paying personal income tax.

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