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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soviet 5-Year-Plan Chief Says He Was Right

The man who spent 20 years deciding whether the massive Soviet economy should produce nuts, bolts or nuclear missiles said Tuesday that Russia could do with a bit of planning now.

"Figuratively speaking, the market and private initiative are the wings in the sail, but the plan and planning are the rudder which guide the ship of the economy to its goal," Nikolai Baibakov, who turned 90 Mar. 6, told the Trud newspaper.

Baibakov, who first worked in the oil ministry under dictator Josef Stalin, from 1965 to 1985 headed Gosplan, the State Planning Committee that designed the famous five-year plans ruling the Soviet Union's economic life.

For many critics, the plans summed up all that was wrong with the economy. They were inflexible and mandated state interference in business and huge spending on arms at the expense of consumer goods, rarely found in shops.

Baibakov dismissed economists' suggestions that the economy had stagnated in the 1970s and 1980s. Reforms under Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin had been disastrous due to a lack of planning, he contended.

"Now I hope that the situation will change for the better, even if slowly, and the role of the state in the economy will grow," he said.

President Vladimir Putin, who succeeded Yeltsin last year, has said he will not turn the clock back to the Soviet days, but has backed an increased role for the state in making sure that the rules of the market economy are obeyed.