Parliament begins work on new foreign investment law

CUBA STANDARD — Two committees of the National Assembly have begun preparatory work on a new foreign investment law that is expected to be passed by an upcoming extraordinary session this month, while experts throughout the island are providing input to the proposed law.

Cuba-Brazil joint venture at Mariel Port

The judicial and economic committees have begun a “broad and detailed process” to “figure out aspects [of the bill] that may have to be amended,” José Luis Toledo Santander, chairman of the constitutional and judicial committee, told official daily Granma.

According to Toledo, the new law will enhance guarantees for foreign investors, emphasize the importance of foreign investment, and establish a “folder” of investments sought by the government. The law will also spell out tax rebates and exemptions for certain foreign investments, and provide more flexibility with import duties.

The main concerns expressed by deputies — who received a copy of the bill a few days ago — so far are labor rights of Cuban workers in foreign investment projects, duration of investments, and “protection of national heritage,” Toledo said.

Toledo said that deputies, lawyers, state company executives, and municipal and provincial officials are “debating” the law in five meetings throughout the island this week. In each of the meetings, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca explains the proposed law that was put together by the Council of Ministers and then goes over the bill , chapter by chapter, with attendees who can then provide comments and suggestions. “If needed,” the bill will be modified before it is submitted to the whole parliament. The government also maintains an e-mail address for input outside of meetings.

“That way, we will get to the Assembly with the highest possible degree of clarity and consensus,” Toledo said, without providing a date for the start of the extraordinary session.

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