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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 06:58 GMT
Cuba announces major salary rises
By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Havana

Cuban President Fidel Castro speaks to newly graduated doctors
Fidel Castro wants to reward people like doctors
Cuba has announced a major increase in government salaries as it tries to reward workers with high productivity and advanced university degrees.

The bonuses will boost some government salaries by up to 50%.

Cuba's Communist Party daily newspaper says that the pay rises will be the first some civil servants have been awarded in 23 years.

Workers with masters degrees will receive a bonus of up to $4 a month. Doctors will get an extra $7.

The raw figures might seem low but in Cuba - where the average monthly salary is around $15, and accommodation healthcare and education are free, the rises will be welcome. Perhaps all the more so because they come at the same time the Cuban government is launching a campaign against those that supplement their salaries through illicit means.

Rich targeted

President Castro has vowed to clamp down hard on rampant robbery from state enterprises.

In a speech last week he also blamed many of the country's woes on what he described as Cuba's new rich - principally intermediaries and independent restaurant owners who have profited from this economy's very limited opening up to private enterprise.

They, it appears, are being targeted in another move announced - a staggered price rise of up to three times for heavy consumers of electricity.

Cuba's decrepit electrical infrastructure has in recent years proved insufficient to power the whole country.

The government says that the entire population needs to be made aware of the cost of energy, particularly those that use it to run their own businesses.

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