Soviet Plan: Revival of Lagging Economy

Times Staff Writer

Premier Nikolai I. Ryzhkov, criticizing the Soviet Union's economic stagnation during the rule of the late President Leonid I. Brezhnev, outlined a 15-year plan Monday to spur industrial growth.

Among the incentives to improve the output and quality of goods, Ryzhkov told the 27th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, will be pay increases for industrial workers averaging more than 25% over the next five years.

The Soviet economy will expand by 5% a year, he predicted, compared to 3.1% under the previous plan, which covered a five-year period.

Harder work, better management and greater use of automation will help to put the industrial machine into high gear, Ryzhkov said.

Without mentioning Brezhnev's name, Ryzhkov made it clear that the Soviet economy suffered under his leadership. Brezhnev ruled for 18 years before his death in 1982.

'Unfavorable Tendencies'

"The unfavorable tendencies that surfaced in economic development during the 1970s grew sharper in the early 1980s," he said. "The quality indicators of economic management deteriorated."

He noted that the rate of industrial growth in 1982 plunged by 33.4% below the average for the previous five-year plan, and added:

"Many leaders continued to work by outdated methods and proved to be unprepared for work in the new conditions. Discipline and order deteriorated to an intolerable level. . . . The vicious practice of downward revision of plans (production targets) became widespread."

In 1983, after Yuri V. Andropov became head of the party, there were "visible positive changes," Ryzhkov said in a favorable reference to the late patron of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

He acknowledged that many industries failed to reach their production quotas under the 1981-85 plan, and that harvests too were disappointing. "There had to be basic changes," he told the 5,000 delegates to the congress.

No Blueprint Presented

Ryzhkov, formerly the successful manager of a big metalworking plant in the Urals, did not lay out any blueprint for achieving the ambitious goals set for the 15 years ahead. He said a 15-year plan was drawn up because the economic tasks are too great to be carried out in the typical five-year planning period.

Ryzhkov signaled a determined drive to conserve energy and raw materials, saying that more efficient use of both will provide more than 75% of the increased requirements in the years ahead.

Labor productivity, he said, will go up by 2.5 times and will be the single most important lever to speed economic growth.

His speech, in the spirit of Gorbachev's keynote speech a week ago, was frank in admitting shortcomings and long on criticism of established work patterns.

"We must clamp down on the fragmentation of financial resources," he said, referring to an estimated 300,000 construction projects now under way in the Soviet Union. Because of this fragmentation, he said, projects are always finished later than scheduled.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World