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Sat, Dec

Cuban Economy Minister Marino Murillo is sacked

Mr Murillo will remain broadly involved in management of the Cuban economy

The Cuban economy minister has been removed from his post following President Raul Castro's warning last week that people would have to tighten their belts amid the continuing economic crisis in Venezuela.

The government says Marino Murillo will now have responsibility for spearheading market reforms.

Cuba's economy is closely tied to that of its socialist ally, Venezuela.

But Venezuela has been hit by oil prices remaining comparatively low.

The BBC's Will Grant in Havana says the decision to transfer the economy minister to new duties adds to the growing sense of economic uncertainty in Cuba. 

For now, Mr Murillo will broadly remain involved in managing the communist island's economy. 

President Castro has told Cubans to brace themselves for a tough second half of 2016 as government institutions restrict their energy consumption while a joint Cuban-Venezuelan oil refinery in the city of Cienfuegos is temporarily closed. 

For over a decade, Venezuela has supplied an estimated 100,000 barrels of oil a day to Cuba, largely paid for by missions of Cuban healthcare professionals to the South American nation. 

Mr Murillo will be replaced by another veteran politician, Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, who has overseen the country's recent debt restructuring. 

President Castro has allowed much of Cuba's state-controlled agriculture sector to be made into co-operatives and legalised small and medium-sized private businesses since assuming power from his ailing brother, Fidel, in 2008.

With the restoration of relations with the US last year, Cuba is also opening up to foreign investment.

Credit: BBC