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Cuba to ease loan terms for private businesses

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

HAVANA — Cuba announced on Saturday that it's easing the terms of lending to private business owners in an attempt to boost the country's new small business sector.

The new rules were published in the country's Official Gazette and publicized by state media. They let private businesspeople take out loans for as little as 1,000 pesos, or $41, a third less than the previous minimum.

The terms of repayment can now extend up to 10 years, with bank presidents authorized to extend them even longer in certain cases.

This year, Cubans were allowed to use personal property such as real estate and jewelry as collateral for loans.

The number of islanders working for themselves has stalled for the past two years at about 444,000 — or 9 percent of the workforce.

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