Socialist Cuba, where most people have never had to pay taxes, is developing a video game to teach school children the importance of contributing to the public purse.
Since revolutionary leader Fidel Castro nationalized the economy in the 1960s, most Cuban workplaces have belonged to the government, which considered it senseless to pay people money then take it back again in the form of taxes.
Dubbed "Tributin," or "Little Tax," by its creators at the Superior Pedagogic Institute of Holguin, 455 miles east of Havana, the game is meant to support economic reforms by Fidel Castro's brother, President Raul Castro, who is expanding Cuba's tiny private sector. The game is expected to roll out in October.
Cuba's new entrepreneurs are expected to pay between 25 and 50 percent in taxes, which the cash-strapped government will use to keep financing generous social programs.
"It is a fun software to help children learn about fiscal policy, because since they were born in a socialist society with some gratuities, they don't have all the elements needed to understand taxes," project director Dagoberto Marino told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"Tributin" would show children how the money they spend when they buy candy puts in motion mechanisms that benefit their communities in the form of school improvements.
"We are trying to generate a fiscal culture. If we manage to get the kids involved, they could transmit it to their parents," Marino said.
At least 75,000 people have been issued self-employment licenses in the past three months. Cafeteria owners, hairdressers and clowns are among workers expected to pay income and sales taxes plus additional charges if they hire employees.
Castro wants the growing private sector to absorb many of the 500,000 public employees he is letting go to streamline Cuba's oversized state apparatus.