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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


Beginning with the First Five-Year Plan (1928-32), Soviet industry was directed by a complicated, centralized system that proved increasingly inflexible as its equipment base became more sophisticated. Major problems arose in allocation of resources between military and civilian sectors, centralized planning of diverse industries, and systemic changes that would make industry responsive to rapid technological developments.

The Complexes and the Ministries

In the late 1980s, industry was officially divided into seven industrial complexes, each complex (see Glossary) responsible for one or more sectors of production. The seven complexes, which were directly responsible to the Council of Ministers, were agroindustrial , chemicals and timber, construction, fuel and energy, machine building, light industry, and metallurgy. The Ministry of Light Industry was the only ministry in its complex and was intended as the foundation for a consumer industry complex, dubbed the "social complex" by the government. The remaining six complexes included several ministries to oversee one broad type of industry. For example, the fuel and energy complex included the all-union ministries of atomic power, coal, construction of petroleum and gas enterprises, the gas industry, the petroleum industry, and power and electrification. The ministry system included three types of organization: all-union (national level only), union-republic (national and republic levels), and republic (to run industry indigenous to a single republic). Ministries in the construction materials, light industry, nonferrous metallurgy, and timber complexes were in the union-republic ministry category. But machine building had all-union ministries because unified national policy and standards were considered critical in that field. Ministries with major military output fell outside this ministry structure, under the superministerial direction of the Military Industrial Commission. That body oversaw all stages of defense industry, from research to production, plus the acquisition and application of foreign technology (see Military Industries and Production , ch. 18).

Data as of May 1989