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Soviet aid to Cuba: $11 million a day

By JIM ANDERSON

WASHINGTON -- The Soviet Union's economic aid to 'special friends' like Cuba and Vietnam totalled $6 billion last year and is an increasingly heavy burden on its faltering economy, according to a Western intelligence survey.

The report said Soviet economic aid for Cuba alone ran about $4 billion in economic aid, plus another $600 million in military aid.

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Economic aid to the Fidel Castro government ran about $11 million a day, in the form of direct aid or in subsidized purchases, the report said. That works out to more than $1 per day for island's 9.7 million residents.

The report was published by an allied government that cannot be further identified, and confirmed as generally correct by U.S. government sources.

Unlike in the United States where such information is routinely released, foreign aid figures in the Soviet Union are considered state secrets.

The survey said the Soviet military and economic aid, which together nearly equal the $8 billion in U.S. economic aid given worldwide in 1982, is rising at a time when the Soviet industrial growth rate is dropping from 7 per cent to 2.8 per cent per year, the lowest growth since the end of World War II.

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The shortage of resources has helped create shortages and consumer resentment in the Soviet Union, it said.

The Soviet leadership has, from time to time, talked of reducing the aid under such pressure but has continued to increase the amount because of political benefits in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

For example, the Soviets buy Cuban sugar at about four times the world price. Cuba buys Soviet oil at a price far below the world level as another form of subsidy.

But the Soviets get a return in the form of more than 30,000 Cuban troops in Africa, plus the use of Cuba as a base of influence and subversion in Latin America.

Cuba has become heavily dependent on the Soviet aid, which now constitutes about 25 per cent of her total domestic income.

The intelligence report deals with Soviet economic and military aid to the six countries in the 'special friend' category -- Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and Afghanistan.

Because of the heavy gifts and loans to those six countries, Soviet aid to the rest of the world is negligible.

The Soviet Union actually received $190 million more in 1982, in the form of repaid loans, than it put out in economic aid to developing countries other than the six 'special friends,' the report said.

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Other highlights:

-Afghanistan: Since the December 1979 Soviet invasion and resulting civil war, Afghanistan has become increasingly dependent on Soviet economic aid. Economic aid is now running about $250 million per year and there are outstanding Soviet aid commitments for projects amounting to about $3 billion.

-Vietnam: Soviet economic aid was $1 billion in 1982, plus another $150 million in military assistance. Vietnam also buys about 1.5 million tons of Soviet oil each year at prices below the world levels. In partial repayment, Vietnam has sent thousands of laborers to work on Soviet construction projects.

-Laos: Economic aid has been increasing steadily, from $30 million in 1979 to $100 million in 1982.

-Mongolia: Soviet economic assistance was $590 million in 1982. Since Mongolia has a population of only 1.7 million, that works out to almost $1 per per day per person.

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