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DISCORD DISRUPTS NATIONS IN TRANSITION
STRIKES, ETHNIC STRIFE IMPERIL SOVIET ECONOMY

SHARE DISCORD DISRUPTS NATIONS IN TRANSITION
STRIKES, ETHNIC STRIFE IMPERIL SOVIET ECONOMY

The Soviet Union acknowledged Saturday Western-style reforms have not yet had a positive effect on the economy, and a summer of labor strikes and ethnic strife created "especially acute" problems and dismal economic figures.

The government statistics agency said the Soviet Union had recorded its first trade deficit ever as the total value of imports through the year's first three quarters increased at 10 times the rate of the amount of exports."The country's socio-economic situation became especially acute in the third quarter (of 1989), largely due to slackening labor discipline, inter-ethnic conflicts and strikes," the State Statistics Committee said in a report on the economy's performance through September.

"Measures being taken in the country to improve the financial situation have not yet yielded tangible results," the agency said.

In another sign of increased inflationary pressure, the average Soviet monthly salary rose 9.26 percent from $346 to $378 between the first three quarters of 1988 and the same period this year but industrial output grew at only 2.2 percent.

Labor productivity rose 3.6 percent, while food production increased just 3.2 percent.

"Growing incomes of the population have fueled higher consumer demand for clothes, domestic appliances and radio equipment, and building materials, but the demand has not been satisfied completely," the State Statistics Committee said. "The range of goods in short suppy has increased."

The shortages have worsened despite a 7.8 percent jump in the production of consumer goods, from $457 billion to $493 billion.

Mikhail Gorbachev earlier this month blamed the shortages in part on people who he said are buying large amounts of goods, but the Soviet leader acknowledged that the harmful hoarding is tied to a lack of faith in his economic reforms.