In a sign of a possible shift in policy, the Soviet Union Friday blamed low levels of business investment on a lack of legal protections for foreign joint ventures.
Official Soviet radio reported that the number of registered joint ventures has now reached 3,000. But the broadcast cited "views by experts," saying "their economic feedback is still small.""Many of the joint ventures are at a standstill. One reason for that is insufficient legal protection for them, which restrains the striving of Western partners to invest," the Radio Moscow broadcast said.
The acknowledgment may mark an official turn away from President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's policy in January empowering the KGB, the Soviet security agency, to conduct searches of enterprises. Critics charged that the move was specifically aimed at foreign joint ventures and would have a chilling effect on investment.
The Jan. 26 decree, authorizing the KGB and the U.S.S.R. Ministry of Interior police to gather evidence of criminal wrongdoing by businesses, was seen as evidence that anti-capitalist conservatives had gained the upper hand in the Gorbachev government.
Western consultants have estimated that over 90 percent of Soviet registered joint ventures are inactive. Although many have either ceased to do business or never actually started, their names are still carried on official books.
Trade analysts have also criticized the bureaucratic red tape that often delays registration of joint ventures for a year or more. In many cases, foreign investors have reportedly held back on developing products with potential Soviet partners until receiving official joint venture approvals.