World

Cuban parliament meets with reports on economy, corruption on the agenda

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro greets members of parliament at the opening of the third regular session of the eighth legislature, at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

    Cuba's President Raul Castro greets members of parliament at the opening of the third regular session of the eighth legislature, at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro, from left, Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, applaud during the third regular session of the eighth legislature, at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 5, 2014. As is tradition, Cuba's parliament opened the session with the chair normally occupied by Fidel Castro, left empty. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

    Cuba's President Raul Castro, from left, Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, applaud during the third regular session of the eighth legislature, at the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 5, 2014. As is tradition, Cuba's parliament opened the session with the chair normally occupied by Fidel Castro, left empty. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)  (The Associated Press)

Cuban parliamentarians met Saturday in one of their twice-annual sessions, with the country's limping economy and the 2014 budget foremost on the agenda.

Government-run website Cubadebate published pictures of President Raul Castro presiding over the assembly with Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel at his side.

Foreign journalists were not allowed access to the gathering at a convention center in western Havana.

Cuba recently downgraded its 2014 economic growth forecast to 1.4 percent, nearly a point lower than previous projections of 2.2 percent.

The government reported 2.7 GDP expansion the previous year.

Castro's government is in the middle of a package of reforms that officials hope will improve economic performance.

Cuba has decentralized state-owned enterprises, legalized home and used car sales, and let hundreds of thousands of people open or work for small businesses in the private sector.

Castro and other officials say they are not embracing capitalism but rather updating Cuba's socialist model to survive in the 21st century global economy.

Parliament was also expected to consider a report from the comptroller's office on its attempts to root out corruption.

Lawmakers met earlier this week in committee to discuss matters including the biotechnology and agriculture.

Official media reported that Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez said Cuba's food imports have reached $2 billion a year, but the country believes it could produce 60 percent of that domestically.