The Americas

Cuba parliament meets amid fiscal woes, energy restrictions

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, talks with Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel during the opening of the National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times.  (Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate via AP)

    Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, talks with Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel during the opening of the National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times. (Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lawmakers attend a National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times. (Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate via AP)

    Lawmakers attend a National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times. (Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cuba's President Raul Castro applauds during the opening of the National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times. (Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate via AP)

    Cuba's President Raul Castro applauds during the opening of the National Assembly session in Havana, Cuba, Friday, July 8, 2016. Cuba’s parliament has convened for one of its one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country faces energy restrictions during tough fiscal times. (Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Cuba's parliament convened Friday for one of its twice-annual plenary sessions amid warnings from government officials that the country needs to cut energy use and as hopes among many islanders for deepened economic reforms.

The National Assembly is expected to approve an economic roadmap that emerged from a spring Communist Party congress. The reforms begun six years ago under President Raul Castro have allowed a smattering of private-sector activity, although the state still controls crucial areas of the economy.

Officials warned this week that falling prices of exports and other economic problems mean Cubans need to adopt power- and fuel-saving measures. So far those have included reduced bus services, cutting back on air-conditioning at public offices, reduced work days at some state buildings and slashing fuel allotments for government vehicles by half.

The official website Cubadebate said Castro and 505 members of parliament opened the full session at a convention center in Havana. International media were not allowed access to the gathering.

Lawmakers have been meeting in committee during the week to discuss matters such as Cuba's chronic housing crisis, food quality and customs regulations.

Cuba's is not a professional parliament. Instead, members keep their normal jobs and gather twice a year to approve laws.