Command Planning in Poland

by Phillip Hee Ung Kim


In 1949, Poland began to construct CPE(centrally planned economy) which continued through the late 1950s. This was during Stalinist period. Poland government adopted USSRs CPE system. Although Polands government system was in form of democratic, most of administrative decisions were made by the prime minister and the Council of Ministers because the government was mainly influenced by Communist party. The Central Planning Commission was certainly under direct control of the prime minister and the Council. The Central Planning Commission was one of the most powerful sector of government because it controlled the thorough distribution of resources and economy plans. Apparently, the Central Planning Commission had the rights of all the money in Poland.

Before World War Two, Poland had seventeen regional government. >From this regional government, local governments were branched out through out country. Each local government was not effectively tied together with the central government. The local governments were able to carry out its own administrative policy within the district. However, during 1950s with the born of communist party, each local governments power was effectively diminished. Even though local peoples councils were elected by residents from each district, these local governments were merely means of carrying out orders from central government at the local level. During 1972 and 1975, Poland reformed the territorial system which was called peoples councils in order to bring more central authority. Now, the local governments truly became agents of the central government.

In order to plan economy, the Central Planning Commission had to decide where and how to invest new resources. There were Six principles guiding the commission in the allocation of resources. 1) Sitting production as near to raw material sources and centers of consumption as possible. 2) An even distribution of economic activity throughout the country. 3) A rational division of functional specialization among economic regions with in integrated development of the economy of each. 4) Improvement of the economic and cultural levels of backward areas. 5) Elimination of the disparities between urban and rural areas. 6)Strengthening the defense of the country. According to the economic plans that the Central Planning Commission had done, the actual policies were often in conflict. First of all, heavy industry were concentrated in Lover Silesia (Wroclaw) and Upper Silesia (Katowice). Even though it did distribute economic activity throughout the country, wide spread industry brought down efficiency because of undeveloped transportation method such as highways and trains.

Early central economic planner including Poland thought heavy industry as the primary driving force of economic growth such as iron, steel, metallurgy, and chemical. Large portion of resources were invested in such industries. During heavy industries were considered as top priority, the light industry for consumer goods were given much less weight. At the beginning, these policies showed signs of economic growth. However, the light industry was suffering from severe labor shortage. Also due to heavy population losses from World War Two, even heavy industry was in shortage of labor, too. The neglect of light industrys input led to severe shortage of daily needs for the public. In the late 1950s and 1960s, productivity for the heavy industry might be increased but the productivity for the light industry reduced as well.

Since the Central Planning Commission had to decide the market equilibrium by calculation from their data, the central planners of the 1950s faced numerous theoretical and technical problems. First of all, acquiring accurate and timely data without adequate method of analyzing data was practically impossible. Secondly, imposing their plans were faced with disputes between and among ministries and territorial units.

There were two distinct vertical subsystems in operation within the Central Planning Commission between 1961 and 1972. First five year spatial economic plans were devised by the Planning Commission at the Council of Minister. Second physical and master plans for twenty five years interval by town planning offices in towns, districts and voivodships. There were heavy competition between and among districts and voivodship in order to accompany new investments.

Two tier territorial system replaced the three tier system of the 1950s and 1960s to allow stronger control for the central government between 1972 and 1975. From seventeen voivodships, it expanded its number to forty nine generating two thousand localities which exists today.

Today, it is proven to be more voivodship weakened the central governments authority despite of its intention. Due to constant depression of Polands economy, Poland government tried stimulate economy by reforming existing economic system. However, the reform to decentralize economy was blocked by the communist party.

The severe economy depression in 1959 forced the communist party perform the reform of economy in anywise. Already by this time, CPE lost much of its credit from Polish people. During 1960s and 1970s, various reform put on practice and this weakened the communist partys power slowly. In 1961 parliamentary act rejected the first local planning proposal for the first time. From that point, the communist party took a vague notion of central planning. The reforms were not strongly implanted which did not convince Polish public at all.

In 1982, the planning law broadened local planning powers to include social and economic dimensions. Then law changed again giving more weight on social aspect in 1985. There were six new requirement for the Central Planning Commission. 1) replacing the word planning with the term land use development 2) the preparation of alternative development proposals 3) mandated consultation at all levels of government 4) opportunities for citizen consultation 5) local plans be placed on public display for at least two weeks 6)nonetheless, the act established at least a beginning commitment toward consultation in the planning process. Understandably these laws were not practiced in full efficiency. By this time, voivodships gained the power to veto location decisions of the Central Planning Commission. In 1989 the government abolished the Central Planning Commission.  

  • Reform, inflation, and adjustment in planned economies Wolf, Thomas A.. Finance & Development 03/90 v27:n1. p2(4)

  • Organizing for sustainable growth in Poland Bolan, Richard S.. Journal of the American Planning Association 06/22/92 v58:n3. p301(11)





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