The Soviet Union released details of falling production and living standards Saturday, a day after parliament approved a historic switch to a market economy.
The State Statistics Committee Goskomstat published figures showing falling industrial output and declining exports of crude oil, a major hard currency earner, during the first nine months of this year."The figures bear witness to a further intensification of the crisis in society. Production continued to fall . . . the economy became more unmanageable," Goskomstat said in its introduction to the figures, which appeared in the weekly Economy and Life.
After months of delays and wrangling, the Soviet parliament agreed Friday to switch to a market economy, but President Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the change could take years.
Russian Federation Prime Minister Ivan Silayev immediately declared his republic would go ahead with a more radical program, setting the stage for a fight between the republics and the Kremlin at a time when the economy is fading fast.
The Soviet Union looks certain to record its second consecutive trade deficit this year after 13 years of surpluses.
Although imports remained stable during the first nine months of 1990, exports fell by 12 percent, mainly due to a drop in trade with the countries in eastern Europe. Until the political revolutions of 1989, these formed part of a close-knit Soviet bloc.
Most alarming was the performance of the oil industry.
The Soviet Union is the world's largest crude oil producer and needs to export as much as it can to benefit from the current high prices to cut its hard currency deficit.
But the dilapidated state of the industry's equipment is taking its toll. Exports of crude oil in the first nine months of 1990 fell 6.3 million tons, while production slumped 23.5 million tons to 433 million tons.
Gasoline production fell 5 percent and exports fell by 2.1 million tons. Diesel exports dropped by 2.2 million tons.
Coal production also suffered, falling 27 million tons to 528 million tons.
Hinting at a tough winter to come, Goskomstat said supplies of oil and coal to power stations had dropped by 5 and 2 percent respectively.