Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russians Urge More Unified Economic Plan Yavlinsky Draft Calls for Convertible Ruble, Stringent Curbs in Government Spending

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russians Urge More Unified Economic Plan Yavlinsky Draft Calls for Convertible Ruble, Stringent Curbs in Government Spending

Article excerpt

AS winter approaches and economic crisis deepens, the Soviet leadership is rushing to find an economic plan acceptable to most of the now-independent republics.

Some variations of a proposed economic agreement are circulating among the central administration and the republican governments. Proposals range from a loose convention among independent republican economies to a relatively centralized system with a single currency, monetary, tax, and customs structure.

The current team managing the Soviet economy, headed by Russian Premier Ivan Silayev, is leaning toward the more unified approach. Mr. Silayev's deputy, radical economist Grigory Yavlinsky, has drawn up a draft treaty of economic union that was submitted last week to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and leaders of 10 republics grouped in the new State Council.

"We have major economic difficulties," Mr. Yavlinsky told reporters yesterday. "Inflation is rampant. Production is going down. The goal of this document is to lead the country out the crisis."

Yavlinsky admitted that there would be difficulties in getting the republics to agree to this draft treaty, but he added, "Economic union is not a choice. It is a necessity. This much is clear to everybody." He said if republics delay in signing the treaty, Russia is prepared to move forward alone.

Representatives of all the Soviet republics, including the Baltics, participated in the discussions leading to this draft treaty. But the treaty will still have to be approved by each republican government. The Ukraine, the second richest Soviet republic after Russia, will likely not make its decision until after a Dec. 1 referendum on independence.

Yavlinsky predicted the process of finalizing the treaty will be lengthy. "It will be difficult to reconcile this document with the political ambitions of various leaders."

Yavlinsky refused to give specific figures for Western aid needed to help the Soviet Union through this crisis. But he said that "transition to a market in this country without interaction and integration with Western countries is simply impossible." He said the West would not be ready to give aid until a treaty on union is signed.

The draft treaty of economic union is a voluntary association, allowing for an associative status for republics ready to assume only parts of the joint obligations. The republics that do not want to join will be treated as foreign countries, the document states.

The economic union will jointly form policy on a range of areas including monetary and credit policy, finances, taxes, customs, currency, legal regulation, and the movement of goods, services, and labor, according to a summary of the text yesterday in the daily newspaper Izvestia. …

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