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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Economists Favor More State Control

Only more government control of the economy will halt the growth of a new class of poor in Russia, a Parliament-sponsored symposium of economists concluded Thursday.

The symposium's working document called for strong government support of aviation, space technology and atomic energy as vital "locomotives" of the Russian economy, which contradicts the government's policy of an eventual end to state subsidies.

The report also called for continued government ownership of land as a means to control the export of strategic materials. The position is also at odds with the government, which is moving to ease export controls.

The group's call for government monopoly of land, emphasis on heavy industry, and a slowdown of privatization, provided a sneak preview of what parliament will likely endorse during a special "All-Union Economic Congress" scheduled in 10 days.

The groups report "is completely right and all these recommendations should be worked into the proceedings of this July 27-28 conference", Vladimir Ispravnikov, chairman of parliament's Supreme Economic Council, told the symposium.

Thursday's conference at the White House, sponsored by "Economic Revival", a public policy group of 35 economists, most of whom were trained during the Brezhnev years at Moscow State University, faulted Boris Yeltsin's reform program for bringing economic chaos to Russia.

"We are seeing a class of new poor in Russia", said Lyudmila Rzhanitsina, deputy head of the Institute of Economics at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "These are engineers, workers, those who live completely legally, yet are becoming impoverished because salaries have fallen in comparison with consumer prices".

Other speakers called for the restoration of some of the cornerstones of communism, such as centralized planning.

"We must stop the fall in production by any means possible; this is our number one problem", economist Dmitry Mantsev said in reference to Russia's declining output of industrial goods, endorsing a rejuvenation of the system of state production orders.

Russia's highest legislative body, the Congress of People's Deputies, is tentatively scheduled to meet in the fall to discuss these same issues. A parliament spokesman last week said the July 27-28 meeting "would be a dress rehearsal" for the next Congress.