Cuba approves new private-sector jobs

Havana, Sep 27 (IANS) The Cuban government has approved 10 new private-sector occupations, but maintains its restrictions on private sales of imported goods such as clothing and perfumes.

Real estate agents and telecommunications equipment sales agents are most notable among the jobs now open to the country's growing number of self-employed workers, reported Xinhua.

"Real estate agents can now provide their management service and coordinate the exchange, purchase and sale of houses according to the clients' requests," said a government gazette released Thursday.

Telecommunications agents, it added, will be able to "promote and sell telecommunications products and services supplied by wholesaler ETECSA", Cuba's state-owned telecommunications company.

Other newly legalized occupations include antique dealers, managers of rental properties, construction service providers, as well as wholesalers and retailers of agriculture products, with certain jobs only permitted in given provinces.

Eight other occupations whose practice was once authorized and later suspended -- mostly due to the absence of a legal market for the needed raw materials and inputs -- have been reinstated, including blacksmith, smelter, and makers and sellers of marble, soap and ink.

Deal-brokering between the seller and buyer of property remains illegal, although President Raul Castro lifted the ban on the private sales of property in 2011.

Restrictions also remain on clothing, home goods manufacturers and importers, as they may challenge the similar government imports and their state-controlled prices.

Cuba is gradually opening the door to greater private-sector economic activity as it tries to modernize its economy and reduce the bloated public sector.

More than 436,000 Cubans are currently involved in self-employed work, official figures showed.

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