Old animals in new firms

London, October 18:

A rare investigation by one of Cuba’s communist newspapers has found that most state-run services are corrupt and prey on the population.

Employees are skimming clandestine profits by charging too much and delivering smaller portions in an epidemic of theft and shoddy services, the Union of Young Communists newspaper, Rebel Youth, said this week.

Its undercover reporters found that most of the cafeterias, beauty salons and other outlets they visited were “going through a bad moment’’.

The investigation concluded, “A new analysis is needed to turn the situation around.’’ Such open criticism of the state sector was once discouraged, but in the past year Fidel and Raul Castro have led the way by complaining that corruption was undermining their communist revolution.

The Rebel Youth headline, The Old Big Swindle Part II, signalled this was not a new phenomenon. The report said employees rationalised the skimming of such things as plates in cafeterias and shampoo in beauty salons, by saying they needed to buy their own supplies.

The newspaper did not propose any remedies but critics argue that the answer is to allow private businesses to take over functions from the state sector.