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2 August 2011 Last updated at 05:15 GMT

Cuba National Assembly approves economic reforms

Cuba's National Assembly has given its backing to President Raul
Castro's plans to reform the country's stagnating .

The reforms, ranging from the setting up of small businesses to reducing
bureaucracy, had already been agreed by the ruling Communist party.

Mr Castro also hinted that changes to the country's controversial
and rules could be introduced.

He said those attempting to undermine the reforms could face .

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says one of the biggest obstacles Mr
Castro now faces is resistance from party bureaucrats who face losing
their job under the changes.

But the president warned lawmakers that "bureaucratic resistance is
useless".

Mr Castro told parliament that the time had come for social and
political reforms to be introduced. "Let's clean our heads of all sorts
of nonsense," he said.

The measures the assembly was discussing in its twice-yearly session
include cutting more than one million state jobs in a move to reduce
Cuba's vast bureaucracy and reducing the state's role in areas such as
agriculture, retail and construction.

Small private businesses will be encouraged to step in to fill the
space, while state subsidies for goods and service will be phased out.

Mr Castro also said the government was "working to orchestrate the
modernisation" of the country's migration policies.

groups have long criticised the requirement for Cubans to
get government permission to travel abroad – a remnant of the days when
Cubans emigrated for political rather than economic reasons.

Mr Castro said the rules had "played a role in their time and endured
unnecessarily".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-14368316

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