500% increase in fuel prices in Cuba will come into effect from March 1

(CNN) — The significant increase in fuel, which will hit Cubans, will take effect on March 1, according to state media CubaDebate.

The price increase had been scheduled for February, but was delayed after Cuban officials said government computer servers were hit by a cyberattack.

For weeks, long lines of cars have snaked around gas stations as Cubans wait for hours, even days, to fill up before prices rise.

The more than 500% increase in fuel prices, the largest in decades, has many Cubans worried that it will increase the cost of transportation and food.

Drivers queue for fuel near a gas station in Havana on April 24, 2023. Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

“We are aware of its impact (growth), because it is a transverse product of the entire economy,” Vladimir Regueiro Ale, the minister of finance and prices, said, according to CubeDebate.

Current fuel prices “do not recognize the true cost to the country”, Alley said, adding that current prices are outdated and the result of government subsidies from the state budget.

While Cubans generally pay very little for gasoline, most Cubans working for the state earn less than $20 per month, so even small increases in prices have a big impact.

But as the communist country faces an increasingly bleak economic outlook, officials say they have no choice but to pass the cost on to consumers.

Drivers line up to fill their tanks at a gas station in Havana on October 2, 2023. Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

For decades Cuba has relied on allies such as Venezuela and Russia to provide subsidized oil to the island, but Cuban officials say those shipments do not currently meet demand.

According to Cubadebate, Energy and Mines Minister Vicente La O Levy said the country needs about 8 million tons of fuel and only 3 million tons are produced nationally, while the rest must be imported.

Imports have decreased for various reasons while national consumption has increased, Levy said, and “the price should be the market regulator.”

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