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Cuba slashes state-subsidised soap

Cuba slashes state-subsidised soap

Suds will no longer be quite so subsidized by the state in communist Cuba, as soap, toothpaste and detergent join the growing list products slashed from monthly ration books under government cost-cutting efforts.
Cuba's official Gazette reported Wednesday that effective Jan. 1, "personal cleanliness products" are to be cut from the from the ration books that islanders have come to rely on for a small but steady supply of basic goods.
Cubans currently pay about 25 centavos, or about a penny, for a rationed bar of soap. They'll soon have to fork out four to six pesos, according to the gazette.
The list of products available with the ration books has shrunk in recent months as the government trimmed items deemed nonessential. Cigarettes, salt, peas and potatoes have been cut. Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other products remain.
The ration program began in 1962 as a temporary way to guarantee food staples for all Cubans in the face of the United States' then-new embargo. Designed to tide people over, it has long provided a measure of food security in a country where average wages hover around $20 a month.
Authorities say the cuts are necessary to free the state _ which pays for or heavily subsidizes education, health care, housing and transportation _ from a crushing economic burden.
Other, more drastic cost-cutting measures have also been announced, including the layoffs of about half a million state workers.
Critics contend that by slashing the ration books, the state is breaking with what has been a sacred covenant of the island's 1959 revolution: to provide all Cubans with at least the basics.
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Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez in Havana contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-12-03 22:35 GMT+08:00