|The Crisis in African Agriculture - Studies in African Political Economy (UNU, 1987, 99 pages)|
|7: The alternative and its prerequisites|
This problem is the key one and one that is difficult to resolve because of the numerous dangers to be avoided; risk of bureaucratization, lack of congruence between decision-making centres, decisions emanating from the base structures, and provisions adopted by the central authorities of the popular alliances. We shall simply put forward a few thoughts. First, the question may be asked whether the plan will be simply indicative (in which case the state intervenes in the economic arena in only a limited way), or binding (the state then has a very extensive field of action). We think that the strategies sketched out can only be developed in the framework of a binding plan. This binding plan must, however, be sufficiently flexible for the base structures to retain considerable initiative. But it is absolutely necessary that the state established by the popular alliances intervene and coordinate minutely all economic activities: budget, investment, income distribution, wages, prices, etc. This is necessary so that all social strata may receive fair rewards for their labour and so that all can enjoy their full rights. This plan should aim to reduce considerably the capitalist sectors that would remain in this transitional economy, and subject them to strict control.
The problem of employment and the fixing of prices and wages must be settled by the central bodies in terms of the necessary transformation of the structures of the economy and improving the living conditions of the whole population. At the relatively primary stage reached by most African economies, there does not seem to be any need for complex models based on very detailed economic calculations in order to prepare a completely coherent plan taking account of the various imperatives. Trial and error and intuition will still have an important role to play in the success of a plan which, to repeat, cannot but be holistic and centralized, contrary to the catalogues of projects that are currently presented in most countries as being plans.
For its financing, the plan must rely predominantly on domestic resources. This is necessary to ensure economic independence and will be made possible through the systematic elimination of waste of all sorts, and the end of prestige expenditure that is as useless as it is costly. Given the high level of corruption among some highly paid strata in Africa, there will certainly be reason to investigate fortunes, especially large fortunes, to retrieve illicitly acquired gains for the benefit of the nation and the people. That said, the question of financing the plan remains to be solved. Given the nationalization of external trade and the steep reduction of imports, customs receipts will be very severely limited.
We believe that the investment funds should come mainly from taxes paid by state and private enterprises and from a wealth tax. A subsidiary source will also be taxes paid by workers based on their income and the standard of living to be guaranteed them. In addition, funds could come from income from exports of resources that would have to be exported, either because they could not yet be processed on the spot or because their supply exceeds domestic needs.
Finally, to encourage and sustain the sectors vital for the transformation of structures and begin true development, the fixing of prices and wages will play an important role both in allocating manpower suitably and in controlling consumption.
To summarize, we have here simply put forward a few ideas that are the conditions of, and may make possible, a true alternative to the present crisis situation. It all calls for a vast effort of organization and thought. It goes without saying that success can only be assured by a strong mobilization of the mass of workers freed from exploitation and oppression, and giving free rein to their creative initiative.