Soviet food and consumer goods prices will rise in 1991 as the country moves toward a market economy, a senior government official was quoted on Wednesday as saying.
Anatoly Komin, first deputy head of the state pricing committee, said in an interview with the Communist Party daily Pravda that retail price reform should start in the first half of the year."Today's prices are overloaded with subsidies. . . . Therefore it is inevitable that there will be increases," Komin said.
"In 1991, we cannot avoid implementing very radical measures to improve and reform retail prices. There has to be a significant rise in prices for most consumer goods, above all for food."
He did not say how much food prices would have to rise. But increases of between 50 and 70 percent were envisaged for cars, refrigerators, radios and televisions.
The Soviet government tried to raise food prices last May but was forced by widespread discontent and panic buying to reconsider the move.
Price reform is a key component of plans to introduce a market economy and make the ruble currency convertible.
This year's retail price rises will be controlled by the state and accompanied by compensatory increases in wages, pensions, grants and other allowances, Komin said.
"When all of this becomes compatible and prices correspond to those abroad, then we can talk about convertibility of the ruble."
Komin said wholesale prices for some industrial goods had already risen, starting Jan. 1.