Mark Tran
BBC News
August 2, 2010

More Cubans will be allowed to work for themselves and hire their own workers, the country’s president has said, while ruling out wholesale reform of the communist economy.

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Raúl Castro, who was speaking to parliament at the opening of its biannual session, said the steps were aimed at creating jobs as the government seeks to cut jobs from the public sector over the next five years.

About 95% of all Cubans work for the government and Castro suggested that as many as one in five state employees were redundant in what he called a “bloated” state sector.

Castro said those left out of work would be retrained or reassigned to other jobs but warned that few sectors would be immune to cuts. While sketchy, his comments signalled a liberalisation of the economy at a time of financial crisis. Raúl Castro took power from Fidel, first temporarily, then permanently, in July 2006. He has a reputation for being more pragmatic than his brother.

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