Social Scientist. v 13, no. 144 (May 1985) p. 31.


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B DEBROY*

Two Cycles of Reform in Bulgaria

THE GENERAL impression seems to be tfiat the Bulgarian economy is a remarkably orthodox one, with very little having been attempted in the nature of economic reforms.1 We shall argue in this paper that this impression is only partially correct. There have been two distinct cycles of reform in Bulgaria, first in the 1960s and then again in the 1970s. In its initial conception, the reform cycle of the 1960s was fairly radical in scope. The radical aspects of the reform were, however, never implemented, and it is this retreat from radical reform which has led to the impression of orthodoxy in the Bulgarian economy. The reform cycle of the 1970s is a different proposition altogether. Given the scope of the reform in the 1970s, it is quite fair to comment that amongst all the CMEA countries, with the exception of Hungary, it is Bulgaria which has come the closest to adopting a new economic outlook.

The Reform Cycle of the 1960s

The beginnings of the reform attempt of the 1960s can be traced to the Eighth Congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party held in November 1962. This Congress passed a resolution specifying that it was necessary to reform the system of management and planning 2 It was felt that the participation of workers in the drawing up and implementation of plans should be increased and that the importance of material incentives in the economy should be greatly enhanced. A Central Committee Plenum of May 1963 reiterated these ideas and it was announced that selected industrial enterprises would be merged and that economic administration would be reorganized. The precise nature of the economic reforms to be undertaken was discussed in a series of articles in the monthly, Nove Vreme. Angel Miloshevski, for example, suggested that the Yugoslav workers' council system be adopted in toto. Petko Kunin's proposals encompassed autonomy of enterprises from the state, competition among enterprises, profit-sharing and financial self-sufficiency of all enterprises. Profits were to be the determining factor in deciding on the remuneration of managers and in granting wage and salary increases to workers and employees. Kunin's proposals were tried out in the Liliana Dimitrove textile plant in Sofia and in January 1964 the Politbureau and the Council of Ministers

"Centre for the Study of East European Economies, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.



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