The Cuban government is planning to open up the possibility of creating cooperatives, up to now only permitted in the agricultural area, in sectors such as transportation, gastronomy and other services, official media reported Monday.

The president of the Cooperatives Association, Claudio Alberto Rivera, said in remarks published in Trabajadores, the weekly magazine of the CTC, Cuba's only legal union, that in the coming years this form of activity "will have an important role."

"We want to implement (the cooperatives) in services, gastronomy, transportation and other areas. The country is (involved) in the creation of the legal framework to do it, and the experiences in agriculture have served us as a basis to be in better shape today to broaden the effort," the economist said.

The government this year approved the policy to create as an experiment cooperatives outside the agriculture sector as part of the reform plan that emerged from the April 2011 Cuban Communist Party congress to "update" the economic model.

Rivera said that currently a group of experts is preparing the methodology to be used in applying this management model as well as accounting standards and tax, pricing and employment regulations.

He said that in the Cuban case this includes companies that insert themselves into the socialist planning model and contribute to the economic, productive and social development of the town, the community and the society as a whole.

"The promotion of cooperatives as a type of management constitutes one of the routes for the process of updating the economic model in the country, and it signifies a global alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal system," he said.

In April, upon presenting the approved policy to broaden the use of cooperatives, Vice President Marino Murillo said that "for each experiment the basic principles have been designed" that will govern the functioning of the new cooperatives "preserving in all cases the regulatory role of the state and the government."

With an eye toward overcoming the crisis Cuba has been experiencing since the fall of the socialist bloc, President Raul Castro has pushed a plan of economic adjustments that has opened up a small space for private initiative, including measures such as broadening the scope for self-employment. EFE