From Albania Today, 1981, 4
By Hasan Banja – Professor, Director of the Institute of Economic Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the PSRA.
In the analysis and evaluation of the results achieved in the socio-economic development of the PSR of Albania on the socialist road in the years of the people’s power, especially in such historical moments as is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Party of Labour of Albania, in comparing these results with the situation in the past, as well as the new horizons opened up by the 7th Five-Year Plan (1981-1986), the correct treatment of the fundamental problems of the socialist construction in the PSR of Albania emerge clearly both on the theoretical and on the practical plane.
One of the fundamental questions connected with it is the construction of the economic base of socialism, the creation of the single socialist system of the economy, which was achieved during the epoch of the socialist revolution and construction. The liquidation of the fundamental antagonistic contradiction between the social character of the forces of production and the private mode of appropriation of production, the liquidation of the exploiting classes and of the exploitation of man by man, the establishment of the new relations of production, the creation of the new social class structure and superstructure of socialist society – all this opened up unlimited possibilities for the rapid rate development of the forces of production.
With the completion of the construction of the economic base of socialism, which has been carried out long before, Albania entered the new historical stage of the complete construction of socialist society and is developing along this road. This stage is characterized by a complexity of material and spiritual transformations which find their expression in the rapid rates of development of the forces of production for the construction of the adequate material-technical base of socialism, in the deepening of the technical-scientific revolution, in the transformation of Albania into an industrial-agrarian country and, at a later stage, an industrial country with advanced agriculture, in the constant improvement and revolutionization of the socialist relations of production, in the consolidation of the social-class structure of socialist society, bringing the working class closer to the cooperativist peasantry and the people’s intelligentsia, in the narrowing of the essential distinctions between town and countryside, between mental and physical labour, and in the all-round deepening of the socialist revolution in the fields of ideology and culture.
In a small country like Albania, which has come out of deep technical, economic and social backwardness, and which is working to build socialism in the difficult conditions of the imperialist-revisionist economic encirclement and blockade, relying completely on its own forces, this complex of transformations ranges over a relatively long historical period.
In this complex of transformations and revolutionary development an important place is occupied by the activity of the PLA and the socialist state of Albania to constantly improve the socialist relations of production, to see to it that they play ever better their historical role in the development of the forces of production and of the whole socialist society. The relations of production have always been treated as an element which is just as important as the forces of production for the development of the social production. Marx has written that in order to produce, people enter definite relationships, and only on the basis of and through these social relationships, they operate on nature, i.e. production takes place.
It is for this reason that the PLA and the socialist state, over all their activity for the construction of socialist society, have never slipped either into the positions of vulgar “economic materialism” which raises the role of the forces of production to an absolute fetish, or into the positions of voluntarism which underrates these forces. They have been treated as two aspects of the same socialist mode of production, which are organically linked with each other, but which, however, are two distinctly different things both due to the role and the functions they have and the fields and problems they involve.
In the PSR of Albania, the socialist relations of production are constantly improved as a whole, both as a system and in all the specific fields: in the relations of ownership, in the relations of exchange, and in the relations of distribution.
The process of the improvement of the relations of ownership in both forms: state socialist property and cooperativist property, which underlie the foundations of the socialist relations of production, has primary importance. State socialist ownership of the means of production is the main form of property in Albania. It was created as a result of the socialist nationalization of the main means of production and circulation – formerly owned by foreign capital and the local bourgeoisie in industry, in agriculture, in construction, in transport and in the other branches of the economy, as well as a result of the nationalization of the banks and credit institutions. At present the socialist state sector accounts for four-fifths of the global social product. The cooperativist socialist property was created as a result of the cooperation of the former small producers of the town and especially of the countryside (tradesmen, poor and middle peasants). Today this form of ownership exists only in the countryside, and including the contribution of the personal plot of the cooperativists, in 1979 the sector comprised in this type of property accounted for nearly three-fourths of the global agricultural production. The features they have in common are consolidated and the distinctions existing between them are constantly narrowed down, so that cooperativist property in the countryside comes over closer to, until it becomes one with, the property of the entire people.
Socialist state property, which comprises all the branches of the economy, has the main place and plays the decisive role in the development of property; it contributes to the creation of the bulk of the means of production, the social product, the realization of national income and socialist accumulation, both of which serve as the basis for extended socialist reproduction. In 1979 socialist state property produced 70 per cent of the national income. The development and strengthening of the role of this type of property is carried out in breadth and depth, in organic connection with the development of the material factors of the forces of production. The basis of this development comprises the extension and modernization of the socialist product, the raising of labour productivity, the increase of the fund of accumulation, especially of that part of it which goes to the expansion of production. In the period 1951-1979 an estimated 61 per cent of the total fund of accumulation realized in the state sector was utilized for the increase of the main means of production, 13 per cent was utilized for the increase of the non-productive means, and the remaining 26 per cent was utilized for the increase of other funds. Another, more concentrated expression of the development of socialist state property in breadth is the increment of the social product and of the national wealth as a whole. In this, an important part is played by fundamental investments. Distribution of investments with first priority to the productive sphere – 81 per cent, and especially to the development of industry – an average of 49.3 per cent, has been and remains one of the distinguishing features of the economic policy and of the rapid-rate development of the socialist state property.
This form of ownership has developed in depth, too. The degree of the economic effectiveness of the utilization of its objects has increased, the process of concentration, specialization and cooperation of production has been deepened, the ratio between the production of the tools of work as against the production of the objects of work has been improved in favour of the former, etc. In 1978 the production of the tools of work against total production increased to 11.3 per cent, against 9.1 per cent it was in 1974 and 4.2 per cent in 1960.
The socialist cooperativist property, which accounts for an important part of the agricultural production of the country and of the socialist fund of accumulation, develops and is strengthened ceaselessly parallel with the socialist state property. The source of the strengthening of this type of property is the work of the cooperativists and the product created by them, as well as the all-round assistance of the socialist state. The socialist cooperativist property has a transitional character. In the process of its development, it constantly strengthens its socialist character and tends towards its gradual development into a property of the entire people. This is a long and all-round process of transformation of a socio-economic technical-organizational and ideological character, which is guided in a conscious and organized manner by the PLA and the socialist state, in the concrete historical conditions of our country.
This process goes on over the entire first phase of communist society, involving the careful preparation of the necessary conditions for it, without waiting for them to achieve complete maturity on a national scale. The increased degree of socialization of the cooperativist property and the preparation of the conditions for bringing it closer to and transforming it into the property of the entire people, is realized in Albania in several ways and forms. Historically this has begun with the enlargement of agricultural cooperatives, through the merger of the existing cooperatives set up on a village basis; with the transformation into state property of artisan cooperatives, of consumer and buyer-and-seller cooperatives in 1970; with the partial and limited transformation of some cooperatives and villages directly into state farms. Today our country counts a total of 423 agricultural cooperatives, against 1,484 in 1960 and 643 in 1979. They comprise 253,000 cooperativist families, with an acreage of arable land totalling 542,000 hectares (i.e. an average of 1,281 hectares of arable land per cooperative).
The process of the increasing socialization of cooperativist property in the Albanian village is carried out through the method of setting up higher type cooperatives, beginning from 1971-1972. The higher type cooperatives function on the basis of the group property, with all the relations of exchange and distribution deriving from this type of property. However, they stand apart from the other agricultural cooperatives in regard to the participation of the state with fundamental investments, mainly with the means of production, and in regard to the form of remuneration of their members, which is done on the basis of the work-norm rather than of the work-day. The setting up of such cooperatives represents a creative development of the Marxist-Leninist theory and of the practice of the construction of socialism in the countryside, based on the strengthening of the group property, bringing it closer to and gradually transforming it into the property of the entire people. Comrade Enver Hoxha has clearly charted this road and determined its contents. Speaking to the 6th Congress of the Party in 1971, he said: “The immediate aim of this measure is to achieve a more rapid development of agriculture in our country’s most fertile fields and to ensure a stable increase of production of those agricultural and livestock products of which our people’s economy stands in greatest need. On the other hand, these cooperatives will represent a higher level of socialization of the property of the group, bringing it closer to the property of the whole people.”
The higher type cooperatives (41 all told) account for an important part of the agricultural economy of the country, and more precisely, 22 per cent of the arable land, nearly 20 per cent of the labour force and population, and about 34 per cent of the main means of the cooperativist sector. In 1979 they turned out 25 per cent of the bread grain, more than 50 per cent of the rice and cotton, 47 per cent of the sugar-beet, 28 per cent of the sunflower, 31 per cent of the milk, 25 per cent of the meat, as well as 26-51 per cent of all the agricultural and livestock production of the cooperativist sector, as a whole. In 1979 the incomes of these cooperatives increased 17 per cent against the level of 1975.
The results achieved and the experience up till now confirm the correctness of the directive of the PLA about the setting up of such cooperatives, as the highest degree of socialization of the group property in the village and as the only effective way for the gradual transformation into the property of the entire people. With the level they have reached in the development of the forces of production, the yields they take and the incomes they realize, these cooperatives have drawn quite close to and some of them have even become identical with the state farms. The transformation of some of them, in the near future, into state farms is a process which is maturing as a result of the economic development of these cooperatives themselves. As the experience to date has shown, the process of the transformation of some of the cooperatives into state farms will be carried out when they meet some requirements and on the basis of some specific economic criteria, at the time when the higher type cooperatives have arrived at the stage that, for some years in succession, they reach such a level of high and stable yields of agricultural and livestock production as averages the mean level of the state farms; when the level of pay for work-norm and for each hand comes near to the average wages of the workers of the state f arms: when the norm of accumulation and the fund of accumulation reach such a level that the cooperative can ensure sufficient and ever increasing funds for extended socialist reproduction, which are utilized ever more effectively by the socialist state. In any case, as the Constitution of the PSR of Albania points out, the transformation of the group property of the village into the property of the whole people will be carried out always with the conviction and the free will of the members and the approval of the socialist state.
The experience gained in the work for the setting up of the higher type cooperatives and the results obtained show that they are the correct form of the continuous development and consolidation of the cooperativist order, of bringing closer and transforming group property into the property of the entire people. This road will be followed in the future, too, in regard to the other common cooperatives, which meet the conditions to be transformed into higher type cooperatives.
In the field of further perfecting the relations of property, the measures adopted in the PSR of Albania for the constant narrowing of the cooperativists’ personal plots, have played an important role. The cooperativists’ personal plots are a temporary economic phenomenon in socialism, which was born at the same time as the cooperativist order in agriculture, and with the exception of the land, which is socialist state property, it is a special form of personal property in socialism. The existence of the cooperativists’ personal plots is connected with the level of development of the forces of production, with its possibilities to fulfil the needs of the cooperativists’ families with agricultural and livestock products. Since its creation, the cooperativists’ personal plots have been regarded as an auxiliary complementary factor of a transient character. The objects they comprise are the products grown in them, which the socialist society gives the members of agricultural cooperatives, only for their personal use, a definite number of livestock and livestock products. The size of these plots, which is always determined according to the provisions of the Constitution of agricultural cooperatives, has been gradually reduced. On this problem, the PLA and the socialist state have taken account of the contradictory nature of the personal plot, of its double aspect in socio-economic relations. On the one hand, the relations created in connection with the personal plot are socialist, because they are determined by the socialist character of the land ownership, by the development of the plot in the framework of the socialist collective economy and by its destination as an auxiliary means to fulfil the needs of the cooperativist family for personal consumption. On the other hand, the socio-economic relations stemming from this form of personal property are also characterized by the existence of leftovers from the small-scale private property, which infect the cooperativists with the psychology of the small holder and personal benefit.
It is for these reasons that in Albania the personal plot of the cooperativists has been allowed to exist, provided it serves exclusively as a complementary source to fulfil the needs of the cooperativists for the various products they grow in it, while at the same time not allowing it to degenerate into private property and a market economy. From the year 1946 up till today, the size of the personal plot has been gradually reduced in harmony with the development and strengthening of the socialist property and the collective property in the countryside, and in particular, parallel with the increase of production and income realized through collective work in the agricultural cooperative, parallel with the ever better fulfilment of the needs of the cooperativist families with agricultural and livestock products by the agricultural cooperatives themselves. In 1979 the per capita annual income of the cooperativist family from work in the common economy, increased 40 per cent, and in some districts 2 or even 3 times as much, against the 1965 level. Today the agricultural cooperatives meet 50 per cent of the needs of their members for vegetables, over 90 per cent of their needs for white beans, over 80 per cent of their needs for potatoes, and so on. An important step ahead is the herding together of the livestock formerly raised in the personal plots of the cooperativists, which has created very favourable conditions for livestock raising, for increasing productivity, for increasing the number of people engaged in collective work, for a more regular supply of the cooperative members with milk, meat and other livestock products in village shops. Up to the end of 1980 the herding together of the livestock involved 52 per cent of all the small livestock raised in the personal plots of the cooperativists.
In these conditions, the peasants have taken measures on their own initiative for the further reduction of their personal plots and the herding together of the livestock. The application of the measures intended for the herding together of the livestock and the further reduction of the personal plots, which is still going on in the PSR of Albania, will be accompanied with a further strengthening of the socio-economic relations in the countryside, which will on their part help increase the care for the cooperativist property, in struggle against the psychology and feelings of the small-scale private owner, for the increase of the social product, etc. As such, these are important measures of an ideological, economic and social character, for the constant reduction of the personal plot, the gradual extinction of this element, which eventually, when the conditions necessary for this are ripe, will be brought nearer to and merge with the socialist cooperativist property.
An important field in which the ceaseless improvement of the socialist relations of production in the PSR of Albania is most evident, is that of the economic activity of exchange. Exchange relations are of great importance, because they serve as a connecting link between the production and the distribution of the material good. Economic relations of exchange are very wide-ranging, comprising the economic relations between the two classes of socialist society, among enterprises, and the different spheres and branches of the economy. These relations in our country are realized through the supply of materials and machinery and procurement of agricultural production by the state through its organs of commerce. An important element of the relations of exchange is the management and organization of the socialist economy, the exchange of the experience and knowledge among the workers in the process of work and social production.
The further improvement of the relations of exchange in the PSR of Albania has proceeded along two main lines: the line of direct relations of exchange between town and countryside, without the intermediary of the buying-and-selling relationship as well as the line of circulation of goods – the goods-money relationship, regulated by means of the economic state plan. Developing along these lines, great improvements have been made in the relations between town and countryside. A number of important measures in the field of fundamental investments have been taken by the socialist state for the development of agriculture, for land improvement schemes and irrigation facilities, for strengthening the machine and tractor stations, for the increase of expenditure from the state budget for the development of education, culture and the health service in the countryside, for the creation of the fund of social securities for the cooperativists according to a unified system, as well as for the improvement of relations between the cooperative and the state over the part of cooperativist production destined for society and which also goes to the state in the form of net income.
In spite of their great importance, the relations of production between town and countryside, at the present stage, have much to be improved upon and this is achieved parallel with the improvement of economic relations through socialist commerce, the material-technical supply system, the system of procurements of agricultural and livestock products, the price system, etc.
Development on this road has led to the implementation of important measures for the further improvement of the system of prices and tariffs for the work of the machine and tractor stations, of the system of differentiated purchase prices for the agricultural products turned out by the agriculturist cooperatives of the plains and the cooperatives of the hilly-mountainous zones, etc. In this direction, the system of procurement and the transition to a single system of procurement contracts on the basis of the state plan, have a positive influence. For the economic relations to be strengthened and the essential economic distinctions between town and countryside, as well as between different zones to be further narrowed, the state implements a policy of differentiated prices in the purchase of agricultural products from the cooperatives. Thus prices for the bread grain purchased from the mountain cooperatives are 30 per cent higher than those from the cooperatives of the plains. Tariffs for the work of the machine and tractor stations are 33-35 per cent and prices for chemical fertilizers are 9-15 per cent lower for the agricultural cooperatives of the mountainous zones.
The relations of distribution occupy an important place in the further improvement of socialist relations of production in the PSR of Albania. This aspect of the socialist relations of production is connected with the distribution of the global social product and the distribution of the national income amongst the classes of the socialist society and amongst its members. Seen in their complex, the relations of distribution in socialism comprise both the distribution of the means of production and the distribution of the consumer goods. In the final analysis sis, they find their concrete expression in the distribution of the national income into accumulation fund and consumption fund. These are two important fields for the improvement of the relations of distribution. A fair ratio has been established in the distribution of the social product allocated for the replacement of the means of production depreciated in the process of production, for expansion of the production of the productive sphere, for maintenance and development of the non-productive sphere, for the increasing of reserves, etc as well as for the creation of the product for oneself and its distribution amongst the members of the cooperativist society according to the requirements of the law of distribution according to the quality and quantity of the work done.
The distribution of the product for oneself amongst the members of socialist society on the basis of the quality and quantity of the work done by each, has continuously improved. As a consequence, it has become a more and more powerful means for the growth of production, for the increase of labour productivity, for the improvement of quality and for the lowering of expenditure of production. Every new step forward in the improvement of the relations of distribution is considered in relation to the degree that remuneration of work reflects the quantity and quality of the work done for a given amount of social product, in relation to the degree the sphere of activity of “bourgeois right” is reduced and the economic inequality between classes and groups of working people of the town and countryside, between mental and physical work, is limited. As a consequence of the measures adopted up till now the ratio between lower and higher wages and salaries has been reduced to 1 to 2, the ratio between the salaries of directors of enterprises and the average wages of workers is 1 to 1.7, as against 1 to 2.5 and 1 to 2 that it was prior to April 1, 1976, when these measures were adopted.
Important measures have been taken for the improvement of the system of wages, for a further reduction of material incentives, for the cultural-professional qualification of the working people, for the categorization of workplaces, etc. In the years of the last five-year plan the categorization of work-places was instituted for the first time and a more correct ratio between qualified and unqualified work was established. In the beginning of 1979 measures were adopted for the further improvement of the form of remuneration according to the effective work-days put in and the result achieved in carrying out the tasks of the production plan. This measure applies to the state farms, too. For this purpose, appropriate changes were made in the amount of compensation, ranging from 10 per cent to 20 per cent for the agricultural cooperatives and about 5 per cent for the state farms. These proportional increases and reductions are directly dependent on the realization of the tasks of the plan.
However, analysis of the forms of remuneration of work in the state and cooperativist sectors of the economy has revealed weaknesses and shortcomings that stem from failure to implement to the full extent the two fundamental requirements of remuneration, namely, the amount of work done and its quality, whereby cases of hankering after quantity to the detriment of quality and economic effectiveness of production, are observed. The 8th Plenum of the Central Committee of the PLA held in June 1980 instructed that the forms of work remuneration should be improved further in all the sectors of the economy, in order to ensure that the remuneration of work is connected “....as closely as possible with the results of work, with production costs and the quality of production, with the raising of labour productivity and the further narrowing of the economic distinctions between classes and groups of working people.”
In the spirit of this orientation, beginning from 1981, important measures have been adopted in the field of work remuneration, connecting it not only with the quantity and quality of the work done, but also with the direct cost of production (including live work and materialized work spent for this purpose); making differentiations in work pay not only according to the degree of fulfilment of work-norms but also according to the quality of the finished products, taking account of the standards, technical requirements, amount of utilization of material, calorific power, active matter, etc; making work remuneration dependent on the fulfilment of the production plan and the efficiency of machinery and technological equipment, etc. Likewise, various measures are being applied to make the salaries of the managing staff and the executive, technical-administrative personnel in the state farm and agricultural cooperatives dependent on the realization of the plan in quantity, quality and cost, determining the amount of surplus pay or reduction of pay according to the fulfilment of the above-mentioned tasks.
The working people in our country ensure the means of livelihood from
the fund of personal consumption as well as from the fund of social
consumption. During the five-year period (1971-1976), 85.7 per cent of
the total fund of consumption went for personal consumption, including
the fund of wages and remuneration of work. As can be seen, personal
consumption occupies an important place in the structure of
distribution of the fund of consumption. This fund is created from the
part of national income which is utilized for the fulfilment of the
daily needs of the working people. From this fund are created the
material premises for the emergence and development of the elements of
communist distribution. The social fund of consumption is a source of
complementary income for the working people. Expenditure for
socio-cultural activities takes up one fourth of the state budget. In
1979 the state spent for this purpose more than one billion and 750
million leks, as against 600 million leks in 1960. In our country
working people are exempt from all taxes and impositions. House rents
occupy an average of 2-3 per cent of the average income. The state
meets 18-35 per cent of the expenditure for the maintenance of workers’
dining halls, 65 per cent of the expenditure for the maintenance of
creches and kindergartens. In Albania, sale prices of consumer goods
tend to go down and be unified for the whole country. In order to cope
with the ever increasing price rises for import articles, the state
lays out special funds from its budgetary means, in order to protect
the well-being of the people. la these conditions, both the real pay
and the real income of the working people are guaranteed and stable,
and even on a whole tending to rise within reasonable limits.
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