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FBIS-WEU-94-157-S Daily Report 4 Aug 1994 CUBA

3 Aug ANPP Session Held on Taxation Issues

Fidel Castro Discusses Tax System

PA1608040094 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 0228 GMT 4 Aug 94 PA1608040094 Havana Tele Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Discussion between President Fidel Castro; Agustin Lage, National Assembly of the People's Government (ANPP) deputy; and Jose Luis Rodriguez, minister chairman of the State Committee for Finance, at the ANPP afternoon session in Havana on 3 August -- recorded]

[Text] [Lage] Well, the truth is that I almost did not have enough time to organize what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway.

Companeros, I have thought about whether or not to participate, and I apologize beforehand if any of the thoughts I will express now are the product of my lack of knowledge of the technical terms being used.

However, as deputy, I feel I have the obligation to clearly understand what we are approving.

Article 12 says that private and foreign companies, regardless of the way they are organized and of their property arrangement, will pay taxes on their profits. I imagine this includes state enterprises.

Chapter 14 imposes a 35 percent tax on taxable net profits. This means, if I am interpreting this right, that we are discussing a bill by which state enterprises that have been giving the state 100 percent of their profits will now pay the state 35 percent of their profits, which means that they will not pay 65 percent of their profits. Is this right? If it is, we are tacitly introducing a fundamental change in our state enterprise system.

Of course, I am not against this change taking place. I think we are marching toward a more decentralized enterprise operation system. I am talking about the operation, not ownership. The enterprises belong to the state. This is a socialist principle.

My question is: Are our enterprises prepared to operate this way? I believe, if my interpretation is correct, that we have to discuss, here in the parliament and in the Economic Commission, ways of promoting efficiency and how state enterprises should function. This is a strategic matter because efficient state enterprises are the basis of socialism. It is not my intention to annoy any companero, but we do not want to inadvertently, via our decisions, place state enterprises at a disadvantage in relation to private enterprises.

We are making room for some private businesses because we need them, but the efficiency of socialism implies efficient state enterprises.

If this interpretation is right -- and if it is not I would appreciate it if some companero would clarify this for me -- the approval of this bill should lead us to an analysis, debate, or discussion among the members of parliament to see how we can guarantee state control of the economy despite the existence of private property or private work.

[Castro] Those who drafted this bill should explain this. Jose Luis and Osvaldo [Martinez] should report on this, because what Lage has just noted is a truly important matter. I wonder if what he is questioning is not precisely the objective of the bill -- to free funds for use by the enterprises. It is important to know if this has anything to do with the administration of the enterprises or sharing systems. This matter is important.

[Rodriguez] With regard to this issue, in the first place [words indistinct] to change the country's economic system. With regard to this particular tax, I want to refer to its ultimate character, and forgive me for having to refer to it, but it conditions the implementation of this tax. Letter E of the first final determination says the tax on the utilization of the labor force and the tax on profits will begin to be applied on enterprises in a methodical fashion once this bill goes into effect, progressively replacing the tax system that currently regulates such taxes.

It is understood that this applies in cases yet to be determined. At this point, there are entities that are legally private but that represent state interests. We have to [words indistinct] of collecting taxes required from enterprises, but not, as the introduction states, all of the profits that they as state enterprises currently directly deliver to the state.

This applies also to other forms of organizations -- we could cite, for example, economic associations with foreign capital and organizations that provide partial self-finance capabilities that give enterprises, including state enterprises, a certain degree of independence in the utilization of resources. We have to establish ways of collecting taxes from them based on the changes now taking place. This law will sustain the changes being made; this law is not establishing the changes. This is not a law for modifying the country's system.

This is just like the changes that have been made, for example, in the agriculture sector. Now we have the UBPC's [Basic Cooperative Production Units], which have to apportion their profits. Cooperative workers contribute to these profits. They must help the state cover their expenses. One of the taxes they must pay is, precisely, on these profits. The form, the moment, and the amount to be paid is yet to be determined. Part of these profits will go to the state to cover the needs of society. We have the obligation to collect revenues this way.

It is interesting to note that this is not the only tax that enterprises will pay. There is a series of tax provisions, and things are not the way Agustin has suggested -- that enterprises are to stop delivering 65 percent of their profits. This law, this chapter on taxes on profits, cannot be interpreted whatsoever as one that leaves 65 percent of the profits that state enterprises currently deliver to the state at the disposal of the enterprises. There are tax provisions to collect these profits, and, in addition, as the commander in chief has repeatedly said, not all of the collecting will be done in the form of taxes.

The state, as owner -- let us say, as shareholder of a corporation -- has the right, as owner, to withdraw whatever dividends or after-tax profits it deems necessary to serve the interests of the state. It can withdraw these from all enterprises, including the legally private enterprises that are state-owned, and the state will continue collecting all profits from enterprises not included in this system on the grounds that this is suitable or necessary.

In other words: 1) The tax bill as such does not determine any change in the economic system. There has been a change in the economic system itself, which has made it necessary for us to design a tax system capable of collecting taxes from the economic structure. 2) This law does not annul the current system. 3) This is not the only tax that enterprises will pay; and 4) even when this tax system goes into effect, the state, as owner of enterprises that are legally private but that are state property, has every right to withdraw all profits through a financial, not tax, formula. This guarantees what the companero was proposing -- that the funds will go where the state wants them to go. Here we have a change in tax-collection mechanisms, not in tax-collection itself or those enterprises that are taxed. These will not change. What has changed is the situation in which the country must function because of the special period.

[Castro] Alarcon, I find Jose Luis's explanation to be reasonable. I always understood that one objective of taxing state-owned enterprises is to gauge their efficiency as enterprises. They must pay taxes like the others, like the cooperatives, the UBPC's, foreign enterprises, and joint enterprises. What we have, mostly, are joint enterprises. There could also be some cases of foreign enterprises.

One of the main goals of taxes is not only the tax contribution per se, but to use taxes to serve as a mechanism for measuring the efficiency of enterprises.

Freeing revenues through decrees or laws would be crazy. Some enterprises reinvest 100 percent of their revenues. There are laws that reduce the tax portion that can be reinvested. I view these enterprises as enterprises with owners. In the case of corporations and the 65 percent net profit, or the after-tax profit as it is also called, this profit can be either invested or used to pay dividends, or a certain amount can be invested and the rest can be paid as dividends.

The state, in terms of the state enterprises, owns the profits. There has to be a plan concerning this. Otherwise, we will see a bunch of private enterprises claiming to be state enterprises. There must be guidelines on this, because we are not renouncing the idea of planning economic development, and we are not renouncing socialism, either. We do not want to set up capitalism disguised as something else here. The state will need part of the 65 percent profit, because 35 percent does not satisfy the social needs of the country. This would not be enough. Some countries have much higher taxes -- 45 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent taxes. Some states take almost all profits from private enterprises, as a policy, because of their social expenditures.

The difference is that until now, in our case, all profits belonged to the state. Some profits were very high, such as those from foreign trade. There are very profitable economic sectors that have made great contributions to the state's finances over the years. Other sectors have cost the state much by being subsidized. We are trying to reduce subsidies. This is a fundamental aspect of our policy. It cannot be done overnight.

The Chinese began their changes and reforms in 1978, approximately 17 years ago, and they still have problems [words indistinct] that have to be subsidized, companies without which China cannot do, first because of what they supply and also because they are a source of employment. They cannot be closed. Likewise, we cannot suddenly close all of the subsidized enterprises in the country. This would be absurd. Many produce things that, if these enterprises were to shut down, we would have to buy elsewhere with foreign exchange, and it would be more expensive to import these products than to subsidize some of these factories.

We are thinking of an ideal situation -- one of high incomes. Imagine a state-owned hotel that produces a 37-cent profit for each peso or for each dollar. It has a profit. What is it going to do with that profit? It cannot be established by law that a hotel can do whatever it pleases with 65 percent of its profits. No hotel will be allowed to do that.

An economy other than a chaotic economy, or an absolute liberal economy, can establish profit percentages that can be reinvested. There will be sectors and industries that may have to reinvest all of their income, and some will have to reinvest more than their income, depending on the needs of the particular industry.

Socialism cannot renounce the assigning of a rational use or best possible use to profits. These enterprises are not ownerless, and they do not become the property of the enterprises that oversee them. If we were to do something like that, we would be renouncing socialism, the idea of planning, and the idea of the rational use of resources.

Therefore, this is the way I see this case, which is important, because when Lage spoke, I began to wonder if there was some other idea behind all of this. Lage, if you had a factory and you were to pay 35 percent of the profits in taxes, who would own the remaining 65 percent?

[Lage] I have no doubt that it would belong to the state and to society. We are struggling for society.

[Castro] It belongs to the owner. If the factory were yours, then it would belong to you, but since the owner is the state, it is the state who must decide what to do with profits. I think it is good that you brought up this concern, because if one companero has it, this means that 20, 100, or 100,000 citizens may have the same doubt. We want taxes to cover everything to determine, through an enterprise's net profits, how efficient an enterprise is. This is a complicated matter. When tax percentages were established, we tried not to set taxes that were too high to encourage investments in the country.

We could have set a 65 percent tax, but then no one would invest a thing here, not in any hotel or anything else. Furthermore, sometimes we have to grant tax exemptions when we form associations or joint enterprises. This is one prerogative the state must enjoy. Sometimes, these exemptions are requested for two years, or for machinery or materials that must be imported. Sometimes, exemption requests are for one year. Many countries exonerate payment of this debt for one, two, or 100 years, within the framework of competition among countries seeking investments. Countries seek investments and offer facilities. A developing country, a country looking for investments, a country that has to go through so much work to secure investments despite the U.S. blockade -- a country such as ours -- must pursue a very careful policy in order that whoever comes here makes money. Otherwise, investors will not come here because the pressure they endure is formidable.

There are many industrialized countries that impose taxes on profits that are much higher than this one. These may vary, but the taxes are higher as a general rule. They also have other mechanisms, such as tax exemptions on the profits that are reinvested. There are many developed countries that reduce the tax rate in direct proportion to the reinvestment of a company's profits. We were just starting out; that is why we could not mix it all up. This is how I understood it.

When the taxation and amount issues were raised, I said we have already participated in some associations, and we have made certain investments abroad as a result of the associations. We believe they are imperative and indispensable to avoid suspending work in factories and to keep certain factories operating. We have to pay utility taxes on our overseas investments that are much higher than the rate usually paid. We have even had to make special arrangements with some companies. We have had to seek compensation by imposing a higher tax here.

Sometimes our unit is more profitable than the unit we have overseas, even though the overseas unit is the complement of one here. The one we have here does not function without the one abroad. We can use certain operations or negotiations to guarantee access to a market, to guarantee the complete processing of a product. We have come to believe it is advisable to have some association of this type, but we have said: Keeping in mind the difference between the profitability of what we have here and what we have there for a certain number of years, the tax will be such and such. We have talked about this. The situation is still complex, however.

We also have said: Well, if there is a similar business with a lower tax, we want the same conditions given to other foreign associates in that same field. We have had to reach agreements of this type, and, well, within a period of five years we would do it. Lots of numbers and lots of calculations were made of how much this would cost us. When we established a 35 percent tax, they had to think a lot because of the implications it could have on some businesses. [Words indistinct] we have reached the conclusion that this was more or less the parameters we had to work within to be competitive regarding investment opportunities in our country.

It takes courage to invest in Cuba today. They have to overcome all kinds of pressure. As I have said on previous occasions, of every 10 businesses, we lose nine. It is a tooth and nail fight we have to wage. This thing we have imposed on ourselves is also linked the policy of bringing in capital, because we do not have capital for many of the things we need to do.

Oil is a good example of this. We have had to make affiliations in the oil industry, which we would never had done if we had our own capital to do it. Take, for example, the so-called risk investments, in which we do not have to invest anything. We allocate a portion of our territory. The foreign company explores, conducts all the explorations, and it does the drilling. With the oil that is produced, we have to first pay for all that exploration and drilling. We have to pay off the investment first. The company then gets to keep a percentage of the oil that is produced. If our country had billions in reserve, it could assume the risk. These are high-risk investments, because if no oil is found, we do not have to invest a single cent. We do not contract any debt. A wealthy country can do this.

When the USSR gave us credit every year, we were the ones who did the drilling. We conducted all the seismic research by ourselves. We did the drilling, but of course, with outdated technology. The type of equipment used to drill for oil was much weaker; it was more appropriate for the type of rock they have over there. The rock we have here is harder. One piece of this equipment, I do not know what it is called -- a drill bit [cabezal] -- drilled 30 or 40 meters deep, and then they had to withdraw the entire string of pipes and reinstall another bit. There were drill bits in the international market that could drill up to 300 meters. Just one bit would do that. After 300 meters, you would draw out the string of pipes. Look at the time you would save doing all that. The wells that were drilled in Cardenas with modern technology were done at incredible speed, within a few weeks. They were wells of 3,000 meters or more.

Seismic research also is done with much more modern equipment. We invested many years in exploring, doing seismic research, and drilling in many areas, and the oil we produced was mainly a result of this work. The Soviets had a surplus of oil, they bought sugar, and they bought other products. We worked for many years with that technology, but the oil wells were ours. The oil was ours. Everything was ours. It is logical for us to pay today for the cost of the research and the drilling. It is logical for the one who makes the high-risk investment to obtain a profit over a number of years. Sometimes, we have had to make concessions and some tax exemptions.

We had to do this to overcome U.S. pressures. This tax thing, more than being related to the system that is adopted, the degree of independence of the enterprises, or the percentage earmarked for one thing or another, has to do especially with the efficiency we must seek in state enterprises. It also has to do with the entire foreign capital investment program we must unavoidably implement in our country because, in many areas, we have neither capital nor technology. There are other fields in which we have neither capital, technology, nor a market. There are others in which we simply do not have a market, and we have to create a commercial association to export the product. This entire chapter on profits has to do with the efficiency and foreign capital investment policy.

I would like to add one more thing since I interrupted -- that the Council of State could have done this. It has the power to do it. It has been empowered to do it by the ANPP. [Words indistinct] first, the Council of State could have adopted all of these measures more quickly. We adopted the policy to discuss it at the ANPP because of the importance of dealing with everything that had to do with the reorganization of our internal finances. Also, after discussing it, we took it to the people, and it was discussed with all of the workers to enable us to understand their requirements and to create awareness.

Later, the Council of State and the Executive Committee implemented certain measures, and they were applied. Nevertheless, other steps needed to be taken, which are these. We thought that even though the Council of State and the Executive Committee had the power to do it, because of the importance of this law, we had to discuss it and review it with the ANPP, not only because the ANPP has a greater status, but also because debates at the ANPP are publicly disclosed. The December debates [words indistinct] the people's conscience and knowledge. It was done for the people. There was quite a high level of understanding, and therefore prices were discussed. Does this mean we needed to bind ourselves hand and foot and exclusively abide by what was discussed at the parliaments in the workplace? I believe we must do the utmost so that we can act in accordance with what was discussed at the parliaments in the workplace.

It was absolutely impossible to apply the principle that we cannot do anything that has not previously been approved in the parliaments in the workplace. The parliaments in the workplace were designed to create awareness, to guide ourselves, and to guide ourselves politically. We have done everything possible to reconcile the steps taken with what was discussed at the parliaments in the workplace. [Words indistinct], which we have to discuss again.

For example, Article 20 establishes an exception. I previously referred to this. The article refers to salaries that are tax exempt. I ask: Should the dogma that a salary is tax exempt prevail forever? Some salaries are growing a lot, even now. Some methods that have been implemented in the transportation sector, as an incentive -- I believe it was done in Camaguey Province to get the experience, and it is now being implemented in Havana -- can considerably increase the revenues... [pauses] the salaries in some cases. If salaries go up to 1,000 or a higher amount someday, for one reason or another, does it mean that it will remain untouchable? Does it mean we must cling to the dogma that a salary is untouchable as far as taxes are concerned?

There may be a moment when salaries are very high and would fully justify a contribution -- yes -- and we must be courageous enough to say it, to discuss it. I believe the idea that salaries are untouchable cannot become a dogma -- something that was even approved in principle by the ANPP. Not for the time being, but this cannot be an untouchable dogma. There are other tremendous contradictions -- the 530-odd million deficit in the social security sector. When social security was discussed, various theories were reviewed -- that it had already been deducted, that it had been deducted from the salaries at one time. The salary must also [words indistinct] all the years of the Revolution [words indistinct] and it had been deducted... [pauses] no matter what it was called, I wonder if [words indistinct] a contribution -- an additional contribution, if you want to call it that, or a bigger contribution, like they want to call it, or a new contribution.

This is part of a historic discussion. Should we pay or not pay? Should we make a salary deduction for social security? Social security has grown; it has grown and grown. Are we going to be able to avoid making social security contributions? We had been discussing it with the workers. We again discussed it with the students when we talked about the [words indistinct], we discussed it with the members of the CTC [Cuban Workers Federation], and we discussed it with the National Council of the CTC. Two discussions were held on this same topic.

We have been careful when discussing and explaining it [words indistinct]. It was not included in this law following the discussions and analysis, but a social security contribution was included. I think it is appropriate to say this [words indistinct] the role of the labor unions and the workers' leaders, who have a patriotic, revolutionary spirit. [Words indistinct] total support for the revolution, but they said they were not ready for [words indistinct]. They thought this problem should not be discussed at this time. It was in the draft bill. They did not want it to be discussed at the ANPP, because they said they are revolutionary, and we have to operate with what the revolution gave us. That is not the problem, however. If we give the labor movement a job, the movement must be the one to create the awareness. If they say the people are not ready [words indistinct]. That was the most important thing.

I believe that following the discussions at the legal commissions there was concern among the deputy-workers, the deputy-peasants, and deputy-students. Nevertheless, above all else, we must be patriotic. We must be Cubans, and we must be responsible. We must be revolutionary. We cannot [words indistinct] and allow each sector to ask or accept this or that. We have to reach a consensus. We have to discuss and discuss again. That is why we said here in the beginning [words indistinct]. Even this morning, discussions were continuing. They were discussing what to discuss. [laughs] Groups of parliamentarians were giving their criteria. The commissions were giving their criteria. Discussions were going on. Finally, we decided to discuss what we had here and to make the appropriate decisions. This does not mean we had to approve it just as it was. We said approve this or leave it for a future legislative debate.

There are many practical problems that are closely linked to the realities. How much does a house cost? Do any of you know how much a house or an apartment is worth, in Miramar, in El Vedado, in Quinta Avenida? How much does a house sells for? If a rich man comes and wants to buy it, what is the price of the house? Should we come up with an arbitrary price? Perhaps we study how much houses are worth. Bohios have never paid taxes. I think they plan to exclude bohios. What is a bohio? A dirt floor house? We have to deal with reality.

We do not even know what a tax is. We do not know it. In some areas we cannot even mention it. I remember when the cooperatives were created and taxes were created. They were very difficult to impose. The peasants knew nothing about taxes, not one single thing. [Words indistinct] they said I am the owner. We explained to them that the taxes were needed to reorganize the economy. We had to collect taxes, establish order, and establish a balance between the expenditures and the revenues. We have to do it because self-employment is being introduced, and some self-employed people make huge profits. There are self-employed workers who earn more than 3,000 pesos. I am sure that truck owners earn more than 5,000 pesos per month. I am sure.

Does anyone know how much it costs to move? Have you had to move lately? Has anyone had to fix a piece of furniture or have any idea how much is charged for such things? Can we do without taxes? We really cannot do without taxes [words indistinct] hundreds of thousands of workers working on their own, and some of them are earning huge sums in certain areas.

It was easier before: Everything earned by the state was placed in a single account, and everyone was paid from it. It paid for schools and hospitals, and nothing was left out. No one from the party, the government, or any of the provinces ever wondered if there was money for anything. Anything that could be built was built: stadiums, restaurants, recreation centers, anything. People in the past 35 years never wondered if there was money. All revenues were channeled to the state.

Revenues, sugar earnings, credits -- there were enormous resources. We were paid $800 for a ton of sugar, and the companies were paid $160 for a ton of sugar. The difference between the price we were paid for sugar and the price the company was paid went directly to the state. There is no sugar at $800 anywhere. Quite the contrary, it costs less because we have had to go out to find markets, and everyone knows about our difficulties and is taking advantage of them to obtain discounts on what they must pay us for sugar. Millions were generated from domestic commerce alone, from the sugar we exported. We had the money we received through our commercial network. That is why we had the money to do all of what we did, as well as to subsidize all of those who got used to getting subsidies.

Therefore, we cannot avoid the need to establish taxes. It is impossible to avoid this in light of our current working conditions, and perhaps it would have been good to have had taxes earlier. Nevertheless, people did not realize this. I remember, and I remind (Lazaro), that when we talked about the tax that peasants would pay, it was a symbolic tax, a percentage. This involved anything sold outside normal channels at any price. None of them pays taxes. This is why we are involved in this great battle, this great task of establishing a financial system.

The establishment of a financial system does not only seek to [words indistinct] as I said earlier, but also seeks to tidy up domestic finances through taxes. Of course, the most tolerable of all, and not so tolerable for some, is the tax on beer and rum. Property tax is collected everywhere in the world. I want you to know that in certain places in the world taxes paid on property is nearly more than what is paid for rent. It is very high. What we are suggesting are truly modest amounts [words indistinct], and we are at liberty to analyze, discuss, and voice any opinions that we feel are advisable, including difficulties, obstacles, evidence, and anything else needed to approve what we have to approve, as well as to determine the immediate costs and future effects.

What sacrifices do we have to make? How can we prevent this if we truly want to achieve balance. Much has been said about a balance [words indistinct] important, but it allows us to work in better conditions than those in which there is an excess of money in circulation, and as a result, many people do not work. Many do not need to work.

How many teachers have we graduated? On other occasions we have explained that this was inevitable. Before establishing the special period, and before adopting a policy to protect the population, such an abrupt reduction of activities and production [words indistinct] a tremendous excess of circulating money whose effects are increasingly harmful.

How many teachers has this country graduated? Is it fair to leave schools without teachers? And how many nurses has this country graduated? Is it fair to leave hospitals without nurses? Is it fair for some hospitals to go without maintenance personnel? All of these problems are reflected in this in many ways. It would be harmful and would not help us confront the difficulties we are experiencing today [word indistinct]. As I said yesterday, we must recover the capacity we have lost.

How can we achieve this? By reducing the money in circulation. We cannot wait 15 years for this money to be reduced. We need to achieve this in a relatively short time. Is it possible to achieve this without personal sacrifices?

I know that some comrades need money, and I have learned about this simply with two measures -- the cigarettes and the gasoline. I know about close comrades who are facing a difficult situation and you notice some effects, like people returning to work. We must even use the problems to motivate the people so they return to work -- to work in the countryside. I wish the number of people who want to work in a plot of idle land would multiply because, like I said before, that is one of the most serious problems we have.

We are convinced, like I said, that a tiger is loose and we wonder who will tie the bell to the cat's tail. [laughs] I ask you: Who will tie the bell on the Bengal tiger's tail? It is not easy. It is not only that the comrades have a cowardly attitude, a timid attitude, or something like that concerning the problem. Some labor leaders tell us this is not understood. There is not enough awareness. Should we implement a measure overnight without sufficient awareness about the problem? Should we perhaps neglect to exert ourselves to the utmost so we can persuade our fellow citizens about the need to do things?

Undeniably, the values we want to protect have a price. We cannot neglect to exert ourselves; that is why we have discussed things so much. We are in a hurry but we have followed political procedures rather than uses, meaning the official gazette publishes a law tomorrow and another one the day after, based on the agreement reached at the ANPP and this and other measures. We have discussed it once and we must discuss it two, three, even five times.

It has been proven that very few people remember what we discussed in December, and not many remember what we discussed later at the parliaments in the workplace, because [words indistinct] debates, we were looking for a tremendous collateral product at the parliaments. We were seeking efficiency, initiative, ideas, and solutions that were there. The parliaments not only helped create awareness, but they also gave us guidance on certain things. There was more persuasion where there was less persuasion [words indistinct]. Unless we systematize those assemblies in terms of efficiency we will be wasting [words indistinct] many people have forgotten what we discussed in May. Many people do not read newspapers either because they are not in the habit of reading newspapers, or because they do not have one. I was talking to (Lazaro) and recalled that the reporters wrote almost everyday. Now they only do it once a week. We have to blame something on them. [laughs]

Efforts to persuade the people must continue because there are some who [words indistinct]. There are those who do not listen to radio or watch television. This is a problem. When we want the people to watch a certain television program we have to rebroadcast it. Many times we must rebroadcast these programs on the weekends, and still we do not have enough sets available. Television is the most formidable way of reaching the people, but we cannot use it to its fullest. The radio is more readily available and offers greater possibilities to broadcast information. However, there are many people who never find out anything. They do not listen or watch.

Obviously, we cannot act counting on 100 percent of a favorable opinion, etc., but the opinion of the worker, the peasant, a cooperative member, the individual peasant, the people in general must be fully taken into consideration; and we must have the necessary patience to insist time and again.

There is a reason for once again raising this issue. We have tried to make some progress [words indistinct] regarding the problem we encountered of a lack of consensus and widespread opinion. We are trying to see what we can get out of all of this. We have made progress. We have utilized the time available to us correctly, and we made progress regarding some of these ideas [words indistinct] the words spoken by the new parliamentarian. He reminded us that while [words indistinct] seeking something good through these discussions.

There is something that is very important; we must be brave. Working on the committees nowadays is not easy. How easy it was in other times. Everything was give, give, and give. How nice that something was achieved every time a new law was implemented. Everyone got something and things were created. How different it is when we had to restrict, reduce, and do things with justice, tact, and political sense. We are duty bound to be politicians. We have a great obligation -- we must be politicians because there is no revolution without politics, there is no revolution without a consensus, there is no revolution without the masses' understanding. That is the task we face. It is difficult. That is why we said that this assembly faces one of the most difficult phases in Cuba's history. Jose Luis, I do not know if I have helped you in any way. [applause]

[ANPP President Ricardo Alarcon] It is past 2000. Perhaps the participants will agree to stop today's session and continue tomorrow morning at 1000.

[Castro] Alarcon, what do you think of about the two points I mentioned -- property tax and the worker's issue [words indistinct]. We were discussing whether this issue should or should not be presented and discussed. This will be a topic of discussion.

[Alarcon] According to the requests for the floor, we have received most of the speakers wishing to broach those two issues. This happened yesterday as well. I believe many are concerned about these two issues. Right now I have two comrades who have requested the floor to discuss Chapter 1; this is in addition to Agustin Lage who already spoke. Following this discussion we will be broaching the wage issue.

[Castro] We have a whole day to hear opinions. How many chapters must we discuss? Are we going to discuss chapter by chapter, or are we going to discuss the main issue?