Soviet Union Table of Contents
The Constitution stipulated that the Council of Ministers form a Presidium as the "standing body of the Council of Ministers" to coordinate its work. The Presidium had the power to act on questions and speak for the government when the council was not in session. Apart from a few references in the Soviet literature indicating that the Presidium provided top-level guidance and coordination for the economy, little was known about the Presidium. In the words of American Sovietologist Jerry F. Hough, it was "a most shadowy institution."
Members of the council's Presidium represented the government's major planning and production organizations. Although Soviet sources had differing opinions on its membership, they always pointed to the council's chairman, first deputy chairmen, and deputy chairmen as members. Deputy chairmen and first deputy chairmen usually served as the head of the State Planning Committee (Gosudarstvennyi planovyi komitet--Gosplan); the chairmen of the state committees for science and technology, construction, and material and technical supply; and the permanent representative to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon--see Appendix B). Deputy chairmen could also act as high-level planners in the major sectors of the economy, known as industrial complexes (see The Complexes and the Ministries , ch. 12). These planners served as chairmen of the Council of Ministers' bureaus and commissions for foreign economic relations, the defense industry, machine building, energy, and social development. Some Soviet sources included the minister of finance, the chairman of the Committee of People's Control, and the CPSU general secretary as members of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. Thus, the membership of the Presidium indicated that it functioned as the "economic bureau" of the full Council of Ministers.
Data as of May 1989