Cuba expands list of allowed private sector jobs

Cuba on Thursday expanded the list of occupations open to the communist-ruled island's fledgling private sector as part of a gradual reform of its Soviet-style economy.

The Communist Party daily Granma reported that among the 18 newly authorized private sector occupations is that of real estate agent, in keeping with an earlier decision to legalize private real estate transactions.

Vendors of agricultural produce and telecommunications salespeople also have been added to the list.

The goal "is to further develop... a climate of trust and legality," as Cuba makes the transition to an economy where private enterprise is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, Granma wrote.

The Communist Party daily added that the legalization of these positions will help "generate jobs, increase the supply of goods and services to the population, and allow the state to focus on activities that bolster economic development."

At present, some 463,000 Cubans earn their living as self-employed workers, including restaurant owners, barbers, electricians, mechanics and other skilled trades.

President Raul Castro in 2010 introduced reforms to try to rescue the foundering Cuban economy, including deep projected cuts in the number of workers employed by the state.