State Planning Organization at the Juncture of Bureaucracy and Politics (1960-1978): A Reappraisal
“A plan is many things: it is a charter; it is in some contexts a discussion document; it is also a directive. Usually it attempts to achieve multiple goals.” (IDS, 1976: 41)
1. Introduction and Overview of the Turkish Planning Experience
The fundamental dynamic that has shaped the capitalist world economy throughout the expansionary period following the Second World War was the tendency of manufacturing capital to ‘go global’ (Keyder, 1976: 31). Contrary to common assumptions regarding the existence of a supposed dichotomy between such globalizing tendencies and the inward-oriented development strategies prevalent in the Third World in this era, it is our contention that this global tendency found a complementary dynamic in less developed capitalist countries whereby the emphasis on strategic state interventionism in the markets through an active control on trade links, key relative prices and an enhanced role for the state in devising domestic demand-oriented policymaking in national economies came to be the dominant policy paradigm. Within this framework of new allegiances, the globalized manufacturing capital allied with the domestic industrialists of peripheral formations [mostly composed of former representatives of commercial bourgeoisie (Buğra, 2003: 92)] oriented toward the production of consumer durables either through license agreements or joint ventures. Overall, “through the unrestricted access to a protected domestic market that only the state could provide, the import substitution industrialization strategy offered the manufacturing sector potential for rapid growth and, both economically and politically, a means of increasing and consolidating its relative importance” (Barkey, 1990, s. 60). In this framework, the state mainly fulfilled the function of laying the groundwork of the institutional arrangement necessary for such collaboration between the globalized and domestic industrial capital while pursuing direct and indirect methods of intervention alternatively and simultaneously.
It was in this period that the idea of economic development strategies ought to be guided by medium-to-long-term projections based on rational state-led planning emerged as an appealing alternative to the haphazard pattern and form the path of capitalist development has taken in less developed countries of the capitalist bloc. Accordingly, the plan was envisaged to serve a coordinating and resource-allocative function in a ‘market based’ import substitution model based on “the domestic production of manufactured goods previously imported which takes as given the existing distribution of income and its associated figures (high demand for non-essential consumer durables and personal services by middle and upper income groups; depressed demand for essential mass consumption goods) and is heavily dependent on a variety of foreign inputs” (Nixson, 1981: 57). Given our abovementioned contention, it should be of no surprise that one of the primary advocates of initiating economic development along a planned path in this era was OECD and the organization strongly suggested Turkey that “persistent and continuous planning” should be at the top of Turkish governments’ economic priority list (Akçay, 2007: 66) (Gülalp, 1983: 53).
The inward-oriented accumulation model in Turkey had made substantial inroads already throughout the period between 1954 and 1960 during which the Democrat Party (DP) governments implemented import quotas and extended the volume of public investments in the coal, cement and sugar industries to counter the effects of the deteriorating balance of payments position and the shrinking of foreign exchange reserves while the Turkish Lira was devalued by 220% relative to the Dollar (Boratav, 1989: 86-88). Although a handful of initiatives aimed at providing the institutional framework of planned development were taken by the DP government after 1958 (the establishment of the Ministry of Coordination in 1958 and the invitation of the most prominent planning technician of the decade, Jan Tinbergen, exemplify this new orientation), it was the emergence of a new institutional framework governing the administration of the domestic economy after 1960 that marked the formalization of the import substitutive path of industrialization in Turkey.
State Planning Organization (SPO), founded four months after the military coup of May 1960, stood at a critical juncture where a small group of planners were intended to collaborate with some of the key traditional bureaucratic agencies, ministries and the government in order for the organization to come up with long-term perspective plans, five-year economic plans and to assist the government in drawing the outline of budgetary projections. The organization was bestowed upon a constitutional status in 1961 and between 1963-1978, SPO prepared three five-year development plans. These plans were constitutive of short-to-medium term projections on a wide range of macro dimensions; from level of GDP growth and general price levels to public and private disposable income, public and private savings, marginal savings ratios and investment levels. However, most of the projected targets in question could not be reached -some proving to be highly unrealistic given the domestic and external constraints, static models utilized in the development phase of the plans, a variety of exogenous effects and more significantly for our purposes here, due to the politicized nature of the preparation and implementation phases of plans. As the ensuing political and economic crisis of the regime deepened in the latter half of the 1970s, Turkish development planning, along with the particular accumulation model in Turkey, faced its eventual breakdown.
Thirty years after the demise of integrated and holistic planning in Turkey, questions about the failure of the plans to bring about the desired levels of economic and social development linger over our heads. Formal deficiencies inherent in the macro-models used in the plans, failure to shift to an export-oriented growth model due to structural rigidities and unanticipated dislocations in the domestic economy are usually considered as being the primary factors behind it (Orsan & Tayanç, 1981) (Nixson, 1981) (Yağcı, 1981) (Celasun, 1980) (Uygur, 1981). What we will rather try to evaluate in this brief analysis is the impact of another possible variable; namely, SPO’s relationship with other bureaucratic agencies and the political administration -while problematizing the issue of ‘state/bureaucratic autonomy’. We shall focus on the legal aspects of the web of institutional arrangements within which the planning organization was positioned and draw the general outline of bureaucratic factionalism and coordination problems between the organization and political administration.
2. Institutional Framework and Related Deficiencies
“It is the duty of the State to encourage economic, social and cultural development by democratic processes and for this purpose to enhance national savings, to give priority to those investments which promote public welfare, and to draw up development projects.” (Constitution of the Turkish Republic, 1961)
The definition of the state in the Turkish Constitution of 1961 revolved around its ‘social’ character. As opposed to the welfare states of industrialized countries, this accentuated emphasis was constitutive of a desire to equip the state with interventionist and transformative functions which were regarded as prerequisites for economic and social development. It is in light of this novel ‘touch’ that we should contextualize and evaluate the constitutionally defined organizational structure of SPO.
Despite many contesting voices among the junta leaders at the time, the constitution defined the position of the organization vis-à-vis the executive as that of an ‘advisory’ undersecretary. Interviews with the members of the ‘first generation’ of the planning bureaucracy reveal that many top-ranking officials in the junta administration were hesitant to accept a legal arrangement where the organization would possibly end up as a tool at the hand of the politicians whom they regard as being ‘unreliable’ (Kansu, 2004: 60) (Türkcan, 2010: 234) (Akçay, 2007, s. 78). Nevertheless, SPO was established as a body separate from all of the ministries and it stood at a middle point where cooperation between separate branches of the government and the ministries would be provided to ensure coordinated and informed movement in economic initiatives. SPO also assumed certain functions related to the monitoring of plans’ public sector measures and incentivizing duties in terms of bringing private sector activities in line with projections specified in the plans.
The Law no. 91 (Resmi Gazete, Devlet Planlama Teşkilâtının Kurulması Hakkında Kanun, 1960) which laid down the organizational structure of SPO, separated the agency into two branches: The Central Organization and the High Commission of Planning (HCP). Central Organization consisted of three departments -Economic Planning Department, Social Planning Department and Coordination Department; whereas HCP was designed as the highest body of this arrangement where the prime minister, three ministers appointed by the prime minister, undersecretary of SPO and heads of the three planning departments met, discussed and finalized the content of the measures. It is noteworthy that this arrangement included a principle of equal representation for planners and the government -a principle, indicative of a desire on the part of the constituent assembly to introduce an institutional shield for the activities of the planning agency against the possibility of a unilateral political override of proposed measures.
The Law no. 77 (Resmi Gazete, Uzun Vadeli Planın Yürürlüğe Konulması ve Bütünlüğünün Korunması Hakkındaki Kanun, 1962) regulated the procedural details concerning the preparation and approval of the plans and included configurations aimed at strengthening the plan discipline. Concerning the procedural details, the law endowed SPO with a duty of preparing draft plans in line with the strategic orientations and aims of the government. The drafts would be discussed at HCP and the Council of Ministers until the plan was in ready shape to be sent to the Budget and Plan Commission of the parliament. The commission would then forward the plan to the Senate and the approval of the plan would be finalized at the parliament through the votes of the parliamentarians. The law also contained certain measures aimed at limiting the maximum amount of time to be spent at discussing the plan in parliamentary sessions and curtailed the rights of the MPs to intervene and propose revisions to the plan (Sezer, 1981: 171). Additionally, the law stipulated that any bill of law proposed to the parliament during the implementation phase of the plan and budgetary measures taken by the government must be in line with the projections of the respective plan and any related disagreement should be resolved in light of the reports drafted by the Plan Commission.
It is our belief that the combination and interplay of several of the legal regulations aimed at supervising the activity of SPO and drawing the legal boundaries of the organization’s relations with the government, combined with the particular way in which planning as an activity has generally been perceived by political leaders, the military and segments of the society throughout the 1960s worked in detriment to the planning practices from the onset. Although constitutional regulations limited the role of SPO to that of a ‘consultant’ and formalized the necessity of preparing the plans according to the aims and strategies of the incumbent government in the shape of a principle, the rights of the high-ranking planning bureaucrats for equal representation at the decision making mechanism of HCP signified the ambivalent structure of the organizational framework. Moreover, it seems that the perception of planning as a “mythical tool at the service of economic and social development” (Şaylan, 1981: 200) (Tüzün, 1981: 9) by parts of the military bureaucracy and various political leaders of the time contributed to the formation of a ‘planning ideology’ within the organization that conceived planning to be ‘above classes’ (Tekeli & Şaylan, 1979: 48). As we shall in the later sections, this aspect has become a major source of tension between the planning bureaucracy and representatives of the government at various critical junctures.
As a last point, it ought to be noted that despite the ambivalent situation which has risen out of the lack of harmonization between the legally defined functions of SPO and the procedural details governing the collaboration of SPO with governments, the legal framework supplied the activities with a sufficient degree of refinement necessary for involved actors to know their legal boundaries. The same cannot be said about the legal status of the plans. Five-year plans needed to have legislative approval for them to become operational. Yet, this approval did not endow the plan with the status of a law. Although the plan was legally defined as a document that determines the particular tools and principles put in force to guide the way in which resources were mobilized, there existed no single statute that actually provided a refined arrangement in which the degree of plan’s compulsory or indicative character would be ascertained by the actors (Sezer, 1981: 174). This resulted in much conceptual confusion as terms diverse as ‘administrative transaction’, ‘document with a law-like character’, ‘a norm between the constitution and law’, ‘an ordinance-transaction with a force that of a law’ were used (Tan, 1976: 99-101) to denote the position of the plan within the Turkish legal system.
3. SPO and Bureaucratic Factionalism
State Planning Organization was the product and leading agent of a new institutional framework. To clarify, this framework refers to the specific form in which the bureaucratic administration was reorganized along the necessities of the inward-oriented accumulation model whereby the mechanisms of bureaucratic specialization was redefined, intra-bureaucratic division of labor reformed and the agencies oriented toward reproducing “the regularities in repetitive interactions” (North, 1986: 231). The establishment of SPO can be considered as the centralization of resource mobilization capabilities within a new bureaucratic-hierarchical composition. The emergence of the new institutional arrangement was not however an outcome of gradual institutional evolution. Subsequent to the protracted cruise of successive governments’ experimentations with certain forms of import substitution from 1930s onwards, it was the alliance between the military administration, top cadres of the Republican People’s Party and various domestic actors [even though the inflationist atmosphere of 1958-60 was advantageous for them, the industrial bourgeoisie became weary of the DP government’s haphazard incentive policies (Keyder, 2004: 187)] that gave birth to the legal ground and the bureaucratic arrangement of the new model immediately after a coup d’etat. The new institution was adopted ‘in a world already replete with institutions’ (Hall & Taylor, 1996: 953) and the reasons for bureaucratic-factional disputes within which the organization has found itself following its foundation ought to be analyzed in light of the overhaul of the institutional ancien regime.
In the new framework of bureaucratic division of labor, SPO possessed a privileged role and function at the heart of the resource mobilization processes. The legal structure furnished the organization with authorities that had been a part of the domain of various other bureaucratic agencies. Prior to the foundation of SPO, perhaps the key actor in the administration of the national economy was the Ministry of Finance. During the period before planning, the decision making practices concerning the fiscal and monetary policies, exchange and interest rates, and the determination of certain prices that have a direct bearing on the public sector production were dominated by the interaction between the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance (Akçay, 2007: 83-84). Whereas the new design introduced SPO and HCP into the picture and the decision making power over these critical issue areas was handed over to the formal decisions borne out of the discussions between HCP and the representatives of the government (see Appendix). Given the legal prerogative of SPO to decide on the outline and the specific items in annual budgets in collaboration with the government and the diminishing of the ministry’s leverage capabilities, the Ministry of Finance seemed to have clung to its rights over the province formerly under its jurisdiction -emblematized by the unwillingness of the bureaucratic layers of the Ministry to cooperate (Tan, 1981: 154).
Changes in the institutional setting can produce its own ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ within the framework of power disparities. Yet, “the losers do not necessarily disappear” and “for those who are disadvantaged by prevailing institutions, adapting may mean biding their time until conditions shift, or it may mean working within the existing framework in pursuit of goals different from -even subversive to- those of the institution’s designers” (Thelen, 1999: 385). The non-cooperationist attitude of the Ministry of Finance, as a loser who has been deprived of its former capabilities by the prevailing institutional regime in the post-1960 period could be read as a significant component of its adaptation. The Ministry, no doubt, disappeared from the picture: it merely adapted to the changing circumstances through various acts of defiance toward SPO.
The lukewarm character of the relationship between the ministry and SPO might also be attributed to the difference in the ‘norm systems’ that govern the two organizations (Şaylan, 1981: 197). Seen from this perspective, the varying degree of antagonism that marked the interactions between these organizations throughout the planned era could be conceptualized as a form of “informal constraint” (North, 1994: 18) that functioned as a marker of distinction between the two organizations and was symbolized by the different conventions and norms that govern the behavior of these. Without a doubt, the ‘growth orientation’ of SPO must have clashed with, what might be called, the traditional outlook of a Finance Ministry.
Other examples of bureaucratic factionalism include the occasional clashes between SPO and the Treasury; with the bureaucratic cadres of the Ministry of Industry regarding the distribution of incentives; certain problems with the managers of the state-owned enterprises regarding the resource allocation schemes and the monitoring of SOEs activities; and the non-cooperationist attitude of the State Institute of Statistics during the initial period following the establishment of SPO (Akçay, 2007: 198) (Şaylan, 1981: 197) (Kansu, 2004: 93) (Tan, 1976: 154).
4. SPO and Governments
“Governments will not have stable objectives, but the resolution and avoidance of social conflicts and the maintenance of their own authority are likely to be among their main preoccupations, with a consequential demotion of the development objective. The fragmentation of power, the implementation gap, and the large uncertainties surrounding many decisions seriously devalue the notion of optimization. The uncertainties and the fact of political instability also make for shorter time horizons than would be compatible with medium-term planning.” (Killick, 1976: 177)
Just as the prominence of SPO’s position within the new bureaucratic-institutional framework has caused much discomfort for a whole set of bureaucratic agencies, the primacy attached to its resource mobilization and consequently, rent distribution capabilities lay at the core of a whole set of conflicts between the organization and incumbent governments and stand as the fundamental dynamic behind the gradual transformation of SPO into a ‘technical bureau’ charged with planning governments’ investment policies (Ahmad, 1996: 267) (Sezer, 1981: 168). Whether such ‘democratization’ of the planning activity is a desirable principle or not is questionable. There exists however no doubt that the transformation of the internal organizational dynamics of SPO, the politicization of the agency through various mechanisms and the change concerning the framework that governs the mutual duties and responsibilities of the organization and the government toward one another contributed to a significant extent to the loss of prestige on the part of SPO and enthusiasm about planning in general. The mechanisms utilized in the process of the organization’s politicization also resulted in the formation of a cumbersome and ‘bureaucratized’ planning, decreasing levels of specialization and expertise within SPO and as a result, transformation of the organization into a highly dysfunctional unit -a situation which corresponds to the deep crisis context of the latter half of the 1970s.
The planning organization was the product of a military regime and an emergent bureaucratic framework which was marked by an apparent desire to amplify the relative power of certain bureaucratic organizations vis-à-vis civilian governments (Tüzün, 1981: 9) and provided some institutional safeguards against possible attempts at political encroachment into domains held in high esteem. To be sure (and as indicated in the second section), the formal legal structure of the organizational framework of planning represented an ambivalent situation where the ‘advisory’ functions of SPO did not show a high degree of match with the procedural details governing the agency’s relations with politicians. As such, it is not clear whether we can consider SPO as an autonomous technocratic unit. But it is evident that the period following the reinstitution of democracy in 1961 and especially the formation of three successive DP governments in the 1965-1971 period can easily be regarded as the primary reason as to why the planning organization did undergo the transformation it did. The democratization of the political scene both resulted in the manifestation of tensions between planners and politicians, and created a suitable atmosphere where the governments can make advantage of the rent creation capabilities of the organization. The case of Law No. 933 epitomizes certain characteristics of this conflict.
4.1 A Case Study: Law No. 933
In July 1967, six months after the appointment of the new undersecretary of SPO, Turgut Özal, by the prime minister Süleyman Demirel, a new law was passed at the parliament which stipulated the formation of a new department within the organization that would deal with the creation of incentive structures for manufacturer and licensing of particular incentives to specific applicants (DPT, 1973: 55). The establishment of such a department, contrary to assumptions regarding its novelty (Akçay, 2007: 127), can be considered as the creation of yet another mechanism whereby the funds created out of public sources are transferred to the private sector through various allocation structures -itself a fundamental component of market based import-substitutive accumulation model. Quite interestingly, throughout the initial seven years of SPO’s career, highly elaborate incentive structures have already existed (Kansu, 2004: 286) but the final decision making power regarding the allocation of incentives remained at the hands of the cabinet. In a way, what the creation of this department brought about was the centralization of pre-existing incentive mechanisms and decision-making powers at the hands of SPO through which the distribution of rents could be handled at a relative ease -with a possible consequence of magnifying the volume of available rents. These mechanisms were strengthened, systematized and institutionalized while the scope of the incentive structure was expanded through the establishment of this department.
Perhaps one outcome of this development that is more significant for our purposes here is its effect on the politicization of SPO and the conflicts which arose out of the penetration of the planning agency into the ‘implementation’ sphere. In a way, there existed a dualism in this situation. As the rumors about corruption and cronyism in the department abounded (Akçay, 2007: 131), certain tensions between the organization and the Ministry of Industry related to the assignment of incentives erupted in this period.
4.2 Revisions to the Plans
Throughout the three separate preparation and implementation phases between 1963 and 1978, the three plans in question underwent serious revisions -either at HCP, immediately before being submitted to the legislature or after their approval. What is common to all of the three plans is the revision of their specific measures during the course of implementation. Although the governments harmonized the levels of public investment in their annual budgets with the five-year projections of the plans (which was a legal requirement), these levels were usually the first items in the budget to be loosed at times of increased fiscal constraints (Önder, 2007: 219). Given the fact that public investments were the primary component of plans, it could be argued that the result of the loss of budget-plan discipline by the relaxation of public investment measures was the reduction of plans’ efficiency.
As for the revisions made by the political administration at the HCP level, the most striking example is the near-complete overhaul of the measures presented in draft of the first plan. The draft included a proposition to introduce land tax (with a hope that the implementation of the tax would lead to a gradual land reform) and a reformation scheme for the Turkish taxation regime that aimed at expanding the scope of taxable items [it included previously tax-exempt activities such as agricultural production, transportation and custom duties (Akçay, 2007: 94)]. These measures were tightly bound up with the problem of providing a viable source of domestic financing for the implementation of the plan. Yet, as a result of a strong opposition by some members of the cabinet (the most prominent one being Ekrem Alican, a landowner and leader of the New Turkey Party which participated in the second İnönü coalition) a significant portion of these propositions were either rejected or were subjected to broad revisions which rendered them meaningless to a considerable extent. Subsequent to the approval of the revised plan in the parliament, three of the leading bureaucrats at SPO resigned from their posts -citing the revisions as the main reason behind their decisions (Türkcan, 2010: 279).
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