Politburo Sends 5-Year Plan Back for Re-Draft
In a break with Kremlin practice, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev today announced that the governing Politburo has rejected the draft economic plan for 1986-90 and wants it redrawn to focus on rebuilding outdated factories, improving product quality and making the centralized system more responsive to demand.
Criticizing the policies of the Brezhnev era for permitting economic stagnation, Gorbachev said the Kremlin will no longer tolerate officials who seek reduced production goals.
“We need a mechanism that would make the output of outdated and ineffective products unprofitable,” he told a scientific-technological conference.
Military Costs Cited
Gorbachev said there were “external factors” at work, including the need to fund an expanding military program.
Although he endorsed the planned economy, Gorbachev said the state planning commission should act as a scientific think tank rather than set specific economic goals.
He also called for incentives to industries that provide goods in demand at home and abroad and said government staff should be trimmed on all levels.
It was Gorbachev’s most extensive outline of the economic programs he has been promoting since taking office in March. The official press agency Tass said he provided specifics on how to accomplish his goals, but did not include them in the text it provided in English and Russian.
Target Figures Supported
Gorbachev said the Politburo recently discussed the draft economic plan for the next five-year period and “on the whole supported the target figures and objectives outlined in it.”
But he said, “Serious criticism was expressed, which necessitates that work on the draft be continued.”
The Soviets very rarely acknowledge differences over economic strategy, much less announce that the Politburo has sent back a five-year plan for revisions.
“One cannot help seeing that since the early 1970s certain difficulties began to be felt in economic development,” Gorbachev said, referring to the era of the late Leonid I. Brezhnev.
“The main reason is that we did not display in time perseverance in reshaping the structural policy, the forms and methods of management, the very psychology of economic activity,” he said.
He said the share of capital investment devoted to retooling existing factories should be increased by one-third to one-half “within the next few years.”