Cuban banks started Tuesday granting loans to individuals, as part of the new credit policy promoted by the government of President Raul Castro to support the country's private businesses and agricultural production.
Under the new rules, farmers and those working in the growing private sector are more likely to get a loan from the banking system.
The new regulations also allow the state companies to form business relations with private producers without financial restrictions.
About 500 bank branches throughout the country will adopt the new policy. Each bank will establish a credit commission to analyze the risk for each loan application so as to guarantee the repayment of the loan and the licit income of the applicant.
The banks will also provide financial advice for citizens. "We have noticed that people have plenty of doubts and questions on the new credit system, the fees to pay and the contracts," said Alari Martinez, president of the Cuban Popular Saving Bank.
Cuban authorities have adopted the new loan policy, described as a "unprecedented" move by the official media, to speed up the reform.
The reform agenda is discussed Tuesday by the Cuban People's Power National Assembly. About 400 members, divided into 12 permanent work commissions, gathered at the Convention Palace for an earlier meeting before the regular sessions on Friday.
A key issue in the debate is the development of private businesses in the country, one of the most important measures taken by Castro's government to update the country's economic model.
The government cut half a million jobs from the bloated state companies, and the livelihood of dismissed workers has become a priority for the government.
Agricultural production, as "a matter of national security," is also put on the agenda, since the country spends about 2 billion U.S. dollars every year on food imports.
The government is planning to deliver the country's idle land to farmers and to figure out new ways to pay the farmers, aiming at increasing domestic agricultural production and reducing food imports.
The reform agenda also includes the opening to foreign investment in key economic sectors including oil, mining, energy and tourism.