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HAVANA, Cuba ( – Cuban leader Raul Castro has announced a new credit system that is set to offer loans to small-business owners, independent farmers, and other citizens.

The move is part of promised reforms to the country’s state-planned economy as a growing class of young entrepreneur’s seeks more from the communist government.

According to the country’s official newspaper, credit will also be available to people seeking to buy building materials, pay for labor associated with home construction, or to acquire goods for their personal property or satisfy other needs.

Economists said credit reform is needed if private businesses ever want to grow beyond subsistence levels.

Cuba created a real estate market just this month when property sales were legalized for the first timce since shortly after the 1959 revolution.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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