Cuba puts the brakes on planned public transportation rate hike By Reuters

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HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba said late on Thursday it would delay an unpopular proposal to hike fares for public transportation just one day after the government put off a planned 5-fold rise in fuel prices due to a cyber-attack.

Transportation ministry officials said in a brief statement that previously announced increases in the rates for public bus, plane and train transportation, among others, would be delayed until further notice, citing the previous day`s announcement to delay a hike in fuel prices.

The two announcements have thrown into disarray a wider plan for price rises announced in December that the communist-run government said was necessary to reign in a ballooning fiscal deficit. Critics have attacked the policies as inflationary, ill-timed and lacking incentives to boost ailing domestic production.

On Wednesday, the administration of Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel put off a controversial 500% increase in gasoline prices planned for Feb. 1, saying a cyberattack from outside Cuba had thwarted implementation, officials said.

Many Cubans, already strapped for cash amidst a grinding economic crisis and widespread shortages, breathed a sign of relief following this week`s announcements.

The planned price hikes, initially announced in December and early January, rocked Cuba, where residents have long depended on a vast program of state subsidized food, fuel and medicine to survive.

The government has also said it will also raise prices in the coming months for liquefied gas, used for cooking, as well as electricity consumed by top-tier users, but has promised to protect the vulnerable from rising costs.

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