TWO CYCLES OP RBFORM IN BULGARIA 33
operate on the basis of contracts. All contracts would not, of course, be officially approved and priorities in contracts would be given to commodities enumerated in the centrally determined plan. But depending on market needs and production possibilites, free contracting would be allowed.
It must be recognized that central planning remained at the core of the system and the existence of a centralized system of planning was never questioned. The reform really referred to the mode of implementation, with a greater emphasis on indirect economic instruments as opposed to direct ones.9 The theses affirmed the power of the central planning board in formulating and implementing policy, but it recognized that some ministerial powers would henceforth be delegated to the associations. For example, the ministries would no longer be involved in shifting and redistributing the funds belonging to economic units lower down the planning ladder. The basic aim was to retain the centralized system of planning with greater independence for enterprises as typified in the contracts. Contracts could be negotiated directly and freely between individual enterprises. And since direct plan assignments to enterprises were to be done away, in formulating the central plan, greater weight would be attached to such contractual obligations entered into by individual enterprises. In principle, the theses visualised a contract system whereby individual enterprises would plan their own production targets and submit them for approval to the relevant trust or association, to be forwarded thence for approval to the central planning board. It was expected that the approval would be granted and that a veto would be exercised by the central planning board only in exceptional circumstances. But between the formulation of the theses in December 1965 and their formal adoption in April 1966, a subtle change took place.10 The April 1966 Plenum specified that for items of decisive importance, enterprises would have to meet durzhavni poruchki or state orders, which was tantamount to imposing plan assignments. Obligatory ceilings and norms were imposed. Since almost all contracts were subject to the approval of the central planning board, the individual enterprises's freedom in planning production was limited only to items of minor importance.
In line with the idea of delegating responsibility to the enterprise, the number of centrally determined compulsory indicators was to be reduced. The December 1965 theses listed only four such centrally determined compulsory indicators—the volume of basic commodity production in physical terms, obligatory ceilings on capital investments, limits on the use of basic raw and other materials, and limits on foreign exchange.31 The limits on foreign exchange specified the value of exports and imports in foreign currency prices. Centrally determined compulsory indicators like the gross value of output, the total wage fund and production costs, which had been used earlier, were to be abolished. The enterprises would set their own norms for indicators such as these. To a certain extent planning from below was thus resorted to, the idea being that the