There are certain features of Soviet planning which distinguished it from planning in other countries. They are as follows :
Features of Soviet Planning
1. Party Approach to Planning :
In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party is the guiding force in all state organisations. The party guides the economic, political and cultural life of the country. Economic planning is the means by which the communist party conducts its economic policy.
Lenin held that planning was one of the key tasks of the party. “Planning is a party matter, a most important concern of the communist party and one closely linked with its programme. This lends an ideological essence to planning.” Economic planning is formulated and implemented under the guidance of the party. The history of Soviet planning is inseparably linked with the activities of the party.
2. State Approach to Planning :
The Soviet State is the director and executor of economic plans. It maps out plans and executes them. “The state organizes production, distribution and exchange on a social scale in conformity with the requirements of economic laws.” Plans have the force of law. They are obligatory to all. Plans are state directives.
However planning activities by non-governmental bodies, such as, cooperative organisations are not less important. Planning in the collective farms is also not state planning. The collective farms work at their own production plans. They also arrive at other productive decisions. But such planning is coordinated with state plans.
3. Democratic Centralism :
Soviet planning is based on the principle of democratic centralism. It implies the integral combination of centralized planned management and maximum development of the independence and initiative of local authorities, enterprises and workers.
4. Mass Participation :
In the Soviet Union great importance is attached to mass participation in formulating and implementing plans. For instance while drawing the seven-year plan (1959-65) more than 9 lakh meetings were held. Planning bodies draw on the experience and initiative of the masses. Lenin pointed out that socialism should be built “not directly relying on enthusiasm, but aided by enthusiasm, and on the basis of personal interest, personal incentive and business principles, otherwise -we shall never get to communism.”
5. Extensive Nature :
Planning in the Soviet Union covers all spheres and sectors of the economy. It also covers all parts and aspects of reproduction. The plans organize social activities, on a nation-wide scale. Material production such as industry, agriculture, construction, transport and communications, trade, etc., as well as non-material sphere such as education, health, culture, etc., and at the same time economic processes and social relations constitute the objects of planning.
6. Unity of the Macro-economic Plan :
It means that all plans for different branches of production must be strictly coordinated. Besides, there is co-ordination of perspective and current plans and also sectoral and regional plans. Great stress is put on the maintenance of a proper balance between all elements of the economy.
7. The Use of Economic Levers :
In the Soviet Union, there is a combination of strictly compulsory planning assignments and the use of prices, credit, profit and other economic levers.
Functions or tasks of Soviet planning :
The functions or tasks of Soviet planning are determined by the nature of the Soviet system. The basic tasks of planning include the following :
1. Consolidation and development of the foundations of socialism, its productive forces and production relations. Planning plays a creative role in overcoming social and economic backwardness.
2. Assessing both production and non-production social needs with a view to meeting them as fully as possible, given the productive resources.
3. Planning involves a comprehensive national economic approach to the formation and efficient utilization of material, labour and financial resources.
4. Planning ensures proportional crisis-free development of the economy, full employment and lack of recessions.
5. Planning also aims at achieving a correct balance between different spheres, sectors and elements in the economy, and maintaining proportionality in economic development.
6. The functions of planning also include improving the economic machinery for implementing and adjusting plans.