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Socio-economic development in 1965-1984

Different understanding of the economic reform meaning was one of the main sources of continuous friction and conflicts inside the country's administration.
Though Khrushev's removal meant a refusal from energetic carrying-out of the reforms, the necessity to search for solutions of the current problems in socio-economic sphere still existed.

As for the reform of the second half of the 60-s, there were two visible streams in the administration: the first one was represented by L.Brezhnev as an advocate for limited decentralisation and a backer of the economic nomenclature in the system of administrative management of the economics. The second one was personalised by A. Kosygin, the follower of more radical and drastic steps in course of performing the economic reform with a stress on the market regulators. For Brezhnev the priorities stood in the following order: agriculture, basic industry, defence. The sympathies of Kosygin were given to light industry.

This opposition lasted up to the second part of the 70s. The tenth five-year plan, approved by the XXV Communist Party Congress in February, 1976, named the main priorities of the government policy: development of the defence industry, energetics, agriculture and Siberia reclamation.

In the middle of the 60s, when Kosygin's line prevailed, Soviet leadership tried to carry out the greatest since the middle of the 30s economic reform. But the results were practically equal to zero, mainly due to mismatch in viewpoints within the higher layer of the country's administration. Decisions of March and September (1965) Plenums of the CPSU initiated the reform.

September (1965) Plenum decisions were of great importance, especially in the context of the economic reform. The denotation of the reform was considered to be a complex of steps intended to strengthen the economic controls, to widen selfsufficiency in the self-financing segment, to improve the centralised planning.

Primarily the reform was aimed towards weakening of economic management centralisation and strengthening of administrative control levers. These steps found their reflection in cutting down the number of directive-planned indexes, compulsory for fulfilment by industrial production units. During the reform realisation it became clear that many of the problems linked with economic indexes were not solved. Already in 1966-1967 some negative side effects of the reform began to appear, the nature of which was obviously in its inconsistency and halfandhalf character.

New indexes were introduced with difficulty. Bonus funds were not able to stimulate the workers properly. It was profitable for production units to manufacture maximum priced twin products. The reform was actually sabotaged from the very beginning. As a result in 1972-1973 conservative tendencies overwhelmed and the administration adopted a decision to come back to the tried get-tough administrative structure. Gross indexes began to play an important role in economic life again.

In late 70-s Brezhnev's administration (under the press of getting worse and worse situation in economics) was compelled to come back to the idea of economic reform again. There were many discussions about how to be through with "gross output" by means of introducing "standard-clear products" index. Strengthening both selfsupport relations and directive planning were in the agenda. It was in fact one of the last attempts to modernise the traditional administrative command system. As any half-step, it was fated to accept complete failure in those conditions.

Brezhnev's administration, alongside with attempts to reform the economic machinery in 1965-1985, gave much attention to improvement administrative structure of bureaucratic apparatus. The number of ministries increased year after year.

The part of the administrative apparatus, linked with managing national economy, was structurally changed in late 70-s in the deepest degree. The burden of the changes was to unite industrial and agricultural enterprises and foundations and as a result to raise labour productivity in agriculture and to lower departmental disconnection.

The characteristic feature for economics of the country in 60-80-s was permanent fall of the pace. Though the 1965 reform was halfandhalf and incompleted, it impeded in some way or other the fall of the output, but in early 70-s the readings went roughly down again. From one five-year plan to another the main economic figures fell down.

The "equalisation" in industry, corresponding to the idea of rapprochement of social groups, lead to the situation, when complex, intellectual, expert work became non-prestigious. As a result, raise of qualification and labour productivity were not stimulated. In mid-80-s 50 mln. people in industry, construction, in transportation were occupied with hand work.

Since 1967 and during the 70-s the so-called "Shekinsky experiment" carried on. Shekino chemical plant enjoyed the right to reduce the number of workers and simultaneously to have the same wages-fund. The savings were used for labour productivity raise stimulation. The results of the experiment licked all creation. By 1980 the output tripled, labour productivity raised 4 times, and a considerable reduction of working staff took place. Nevertheless in course of 15 years the experiment didn't have a continuation in broad economic practice.

The negative processes had also their influx onto social sphere. Living conditions improved very slowly. Problems, connected with foodstuff supply, public transport, health care, education occured more and more often. Anyway the level of life in the Soviet Union slowly increased up to mid-70-s, and then for 5 years didn't go down.

State-planned economy imbalance and unwieldiness led to favourable conditions for machinators and cheats of different kind.

Linkage of party-and-state apparatus and dealers of shadow economy was a characteristic feature in the 70-s. Trying to hide failures in economics and in internal policy, the administration used to arrange mass festivals and holidays all over the country, which ate a lot of money of course.

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