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Cuba to do away with dual currency system

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
October 22, 2013 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
A shopkeeper talks to a customer in Santiago de Cuba, on July 10. Cuban government plans to end the dual-currency system.
A shopkeeper talks to a customer in Santiago de Cuba, on July 10. Cuban government plans to end the dual-currency system.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban peso, CUP, and the hard currency convertible peso, CUC
  • Most Cubans are paid in the CUP; purchases of most goods require the CUC
  • The change is to be a gradual process, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma says

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- The Cuban government announced Tuesday it plans to end the country's dual-currency system.

Presently, most Cubans are paid in the Cuban peso, or CUP, while the vast majority of goods on the island are available only with the hard currency convertible peso, or CUC.

Convertible pesos are pegged to the U.S. dollar, while the Cuban pesos are worth only about 4 cents each.

Neither peso is accepted as currency outside of Cuba, where, according to government statistics, most Cubans make about $20 a month from their official salaries.

The dual system came into being after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Cuba introduced the U.S. dollar as the country's second currency.

In 2004, the government replaced the dollar with the convertible peso. The dual-currency system is unpopular with many Cubans, who complain that the Cuban pesos they received their salaries in are not accepted in stores that carry sought-after imported goods.

The announcement in the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma said the change is to be a gradual process, but gave no timetable.

"The currency unification isn't a measure that will resolve on its own the current problems of the economy. But its adoption is vital to restoring value to the Cuban peso," the announcement in Granma read.

For months, Cuban officials have said ending the two-currency system was a priority but the move would have a major impact on the government's gradual attempts to move from a centralized, communist-style economy.

The announcement Tuesday said the Cuban central bank will continue to back both currencies and give Cubans time to convert their savings.

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