What happens to the funds in the hands of state-owned companies, since they can now distribute their income much more independently?

"They spend my street's money!” An endearing friend tells that me every time we discuss baseball after one of the many defeats of the national team, he says it while looking at the dusty path where the motorcycles run with their music blaring. When the debate heats up, he always makes the same argument: he does not understand why so much money is spent on a sport in which we no longer win as we used to when that "money" could pay for the asphalt that will give his neighborhood a more urban look.

This is an extreme example that would surely fan the flames of another discussion, but let us dwell on the concern that is transparent and that we should not forget: that of asking ourselves what governments and public companies do with their capital settlements.

We recently witnessed the unprecedented media coverage of the discussion in the different municipal assemblies of the People's Power of their respective budgets for the current fiscal year. Analogous processes occur in the state entities dependent or not on direct monetary allocations from the public coffers. It may be, and indeed it is, that this has been going on for quite some time now; however, the citizenry is probably "having breakfast" that something like this is taking place among us.

Why has public opinion remained oblivious to this development? The answer should not be sought only in the attitude of the public media in this regard. We should look for its antecedents in the recent debates on the general State budget during the sessions of the National Assembly of People's Power. However, both exercises of democracy are still too far from the popular imagination to affirm that we are as close as we should be to the popular control of what is, literally, everybody's money.

This indifference on the part of citizens stems from the real fact that not much time has passed since we began to take an interest in the destination of the aforementioned collective wealth. Something would have changed after broader tax laws put the issue on the public agenda. Then we discovered that the state business sector, and not the self-employed, was the source of more than 70 percent of all the funds that feed the state budget. This proportion, by the way, does not seem to change radically in the future, even with the emergence of private legal entities or cooperatives in the different branches of the economy and services.

Besides, it was as close as 2021 that large portions of the Cuban labor force reached the category of "taxpayer", until then exclusive to self-employed workers, cooperatives, or individuals who had to declare income not derived from wages. This happened when the article was activated which, within Cuban legislation, established the contribution of all workers to Social Security and the tax on their income, with the exception that the latter would be for those who have a salary higher than 3,260 pesos per month.

It is a different matter to ask what happens to the funds in the hands of state-owned companies since they can now distribute their income much more independently. I recently heard a labor collective consider, perhaps for the first time, the possibility that some of the capital to be obtained in 2022 could be used to repair or build housing for their own workers.

This is just one example of the dilemmas faced by employers. Yet another reason for this moment of presentation and necessary debate on the use of the budget to go beyond formalism and ceremony.

At the Government level, the priorities are clear: efficient use of the financial resources granted, the greatest possible harmony with the proposals of the sovereign: the people, betting on financing local development projects that will then ensure higher income and jobs within the region, and, not least, the differentiated attention to communities and families in vulnerable situations.

These are not simple goals because let's face it, we are not used to inquiring and much less knowing what is being done with the public coffers. Decision-makers are also adapting to the practice of being transparent in this regard. This aspiration is not helped by the incipient mechanisms for citizens to know what happens with their money, yes, because it is theirs.

Always remembering that corruption feeds on obscurity and secrecy also in the use of public money, the tools of digital government could contribute a lot to this aspiration. Perhaps these procedures are not the whole solution; otherwise, nations with greater advances in these fields would have eliminated it, but they are part of the solution. Especially because we will increasingly have a generation of leaders who will have to build their leadership not by the strength of their history, but by the forcefulness of their daily actions. The citizenry knows this and this is of great value in terms of legitimizing and strengthening our political and governmental system.