Recently, Yevhen Marchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Social Policy Issues and Chairman of the SDPU(U) faction had an interview with the “Resonans” (Resonance) radio program.
The editorial staff consider this interview a programmic one, and, given that Mr. Marchuk has declared his Presidential candidacy in next year’s election, we offer an abridged version.
Q.: What do you think are the main reasons of our current crisis?
First, we have a crisis because the authorities tried to govern the economy contrary to the laws of economics. In all times of civilized progress in all countries, the market itself was not an end in itself, a strategic goal. The market is a system of organizing the exchange of goods, an auxiliary instrument of the real economy. Thus, the slogan “building a market society” is political and economic nonsense. Not one of the economically prosperous countries in the late twentieth century supports a deeply liberalized economy. Models of the so-called free market do not exist. That was the seventeenth century, but unfortunately in terms of their content and quality our reforms are stuck in the past. Second. Without reviving the effective demand of enterprises, regardless of their form of ownership, and the public’s purchasing power, it is impossible to achieve any substantial improvement in our economy. And, thirdly — this is fundamental and important, — democracy is a result of a certain historical development but not its precondition. Thus, the slogan of the moment should be accented differently. The main thing is to “establish an economically affluent and socially healthy society.” And a democratic society should be built in parallel fashion. Who needs such a pseudo-democracy where our citizens’ elementary civil rights are abridged — the right to be paid for their work, where people are not paid for months on end, when criminal groups terrorize whole districts? This does not remotely smell of democracy. Society has to build a basis of law and order and then to maintain the latter by democratic means. Fourth, economic recovery is impossible under conditions of massive capital flight into the shadows and to the far abroad. A union of state and capital can be said to have no alternative. Only the country able to regulate the movement of free capital can succeed economically. And fifth, economic stabilization is impossible when the authorities and the Mafia exist in symbiosis. The state must create conditions for private production and not just privatizing production. The optimal combination of the private, state, and cooperative sectors is now crucial. The limits to the expansion of each sector should be determined by the sole criterion of the efficiency of its production and functioning.
Q.: Yevhen Kyrylovych, have the points you just mentioned been worked out by our domestic experts or are some borrowed from stages of the development of world civilization people have already passed through?
To some extent we should look back to the experience of overcoming such crisis periods by now prosperous countries. They without exception did the following things. First, they relied on their on own strength and the inner energy of their people. Secondly, they all consciously tried first to feed and clothe their country with their own resources. Third is the complete subjugation of official institutions to the law. Fourthly, in all these countries the process of economic recovery was regulated solely by the state. Recall Franklin Roosevelt's famous thesis: “The state should curb the crazy market.” Fifth, the authorities quite energetically and effectively combated corruption on all levels, not to mention elementary banditry. And sixth, in all of today’s economically well-ordered states, extreme care was and is accorded the economic protection of science, education, and the maximum encouragement of the nation’s intellect.
Q.: Mr. Marchuk, let face facts. The people is solving the problem in its own way. It doesn’t trust any domestic recipes and acts in a very simple way: let the government go about its own business and we’ll plant potatoes. Is this a way out?
Not really. A state that thinks about its future and cares about its economy state has to create conditions such that Ukrainian citizens are guaranteed by their own productive labor a fitting standard of living, that they are able to pay taxes, and that budget money will be used only to take care of those unable to do so themselves. By the way, the problems of societal poverty and want can be solved by revitalizing business activity in production goods and not through the redistribution of scarce revenues. This means maximum stimulation for those sectors of the economy able to work using market demand. Look at what we have now. Currently no trousers, shirts, even socks and stockings are being sewn in Ukraine, while our officials beg for loans all over the world. And the citizens pay that money borrowed at unthinkably high interest for low quality goods produced by those very creditors. And this year we can even see that even this disastrous mechanism no longer works because those humiliatingly beseeched loans could be totally eaten up by paying off previous ones.
Many people now think that the only way out of the current situation is to bring down the government, to impeach the President, and so on. It might eventually come to that, but now Parliament should work seriously on its own model of economic development and force the government to work under strict control, above all, control over its use of budget expenditures.