Cuba issues plans to expand its private sector

A woman sells shoes in Havana Officials said the decision to relax the rules would increase production levels and efficiency

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The authorities in Cuba have revealed plans to triple the communist country's private sector.

They include issuing about 250,000 licences allowing people to run their own businesses.

Under the new rules, Cubans will be able to rent out rooms to tourists, work as self-employed gardeners, iron clothes and shine shoes.

For the first time, Cubans will be allowed to employ people other than relatives.

Officials said the decision to relax the rules on private employment would increase production levels and efficiency.

They come weeks after it was announced that a million state employees would be laid off to help revive the economy.

The plans were published in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party's newspaper.

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