Secretariat. Warning to First Secretaries of Party in Republics and Regions about price rises (from 18% to 95%) for cars, furs, gold, carpets, etc as of 1 July 1979 (8 pp). [R 11 June 1979, St 162-67] Excerpt.
TO THE FIRST SECRETARIES
OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEES OF UNION REPUBLICS,
AND REGIONAL PARTY COMMITTEES
The secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee is informing you that a decision has been taken to raise retail prices (on average), from 1 July 1979 on:
– items made of gold, by 50%;
– items made of silver, by 95%;
– items of natural fur, by 50%;
– carpets and carpet products, by 50%;
– automobiles for personal use, by 18%;
– imported furniture, by 30%.
Simultaneously the Council of Ministers in the Union Republics, the USSR Ministry of Trade, and ministries and departments which run public eating places are instructed to raise the level of surcharges in restaurants, cafes and other comparable enterprises during evening hours by an average of 100%, and also raise prices for beer sold in restaurants, cafes and other public eating places on average by 45%.
[The CPSU Central Committee and the Soviet government had been forced to take these measures because of difficulties in balancing the growth in the population’s money income and the volume of goods and services of mass consumption. It was also essential to regulate the trade in goods in short supply and “intensify the battle with speculation and bribery”.]
As is well known, the demand for items made of gold and silver, for carpets, fur goods, cars and imported furniture is not being met despite earlier increases in prices. The trade in such goods leads to long queues, often with infringements
of the rules of trade. Speculators and middlemen are using the situation to get rich and are bribing sales employees. In letters to the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers working people have sharply criticised these phenomena and asked that order be restored. The most effective way of resolving this problem is to increase the production and sale of goods in short supply. Considerable efforts are being made in that direction. For example, the production of carpets has risen from 30 to 67 cubic metres since 1970, or by 2.2 times. The sale of cars to population during the same period increased 9.5 times. However, the output of a number of items is still not keeping up with demand and the market reserves for certain goods cannot be increased in the necessary quantities because of the shortage of hard currency (imported goods) or of natural resources (natural fur, items made of precious metals).
Therefore, price rises have to be used as an undesirable but necessary measure to bring trade under control. To lessen the effect on the vital interests of working people prices are being raised only on items that are not basic necessities. Furthermore, it is envisaged that old prices will be retained for gold disks used in filling teeth and, by way of compensation for these prices rises, to raise the subsidy on wedding rings (up to 70 roubles per person) for those getting married for the first time. In raising prices for items made of natural fur the retail prices will remain unchanged for fur items for children and for items made of rabbit fur and sheepskin (with the exception of fur coats). […]
The announcement of price changes by the USSR State Committee for Price-Formation will be published in the press on 1 July 1979. Party committees should inform the Party’s activists in good time. They should keep a watch on the implementation of the measures to reconsider prices, and organise the necessary explanatory work among the population. If, as happened in the past, there occurs conjecture or rumours about extensive increase in retail prices these must be decisively halted. It is essential to provide directions to the activists and explain to the population that there will be no price rises apart from those made public in the statement by the State Committee for Prices.
In view of the forthcoming changes in retail prices the CPSU Central Committee considers it essential, once again, to emphasis the exceptional importance of expanding in all possible ways the production of goods for mass consumption, securing the unconditional fulfilment of confirmed plans for their output and the increase in quality, the timely introduction of new capacity, the expansion of consumer service sector, and improvement in the organisation of trade.
Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee