Formal monitoring of federal wage and price guidelines has been dropped and no new anti-inflation standards are to be set during the remaining days of the Carter administration, officials announced yesterday.
The Council on Wage and Price Stability said yesterday that it will processs all outstanding cases of potential noncompliance of the first and second year wage and price standards but will not set new guidelines for the third year. Interim guidelines are presently in force.
Reagan advisers have made it clear that COWPS is high on the list of agencies the new administration would like to abolish. The council said it had made its decision "in view of the imminent change in administration."
Charles Schultze, who recently replaced Alfred Kahn as chairman of COWPS, yesterday urged companies to continue to comply with the voluntary standards "until the new administration determines what its policies" on anti-inflation are. There is considerable opposition in the Reagan camp to wage and price guidelines, even voluntary ones, because they go against "free-market" principles.
The Carter program has been accused of being ineffective in the battle against inflation. Last week the General Accounting Office released a report that the council's wage and price guidelines have had "no discernible" effect on inflation. It pointed out that consumer prices rose by 7 1/2 percent on average in the two years before the introduction of the voluntary guidelines in October 1978 and by nearly 13 percent a year since then.
However COWPS estimated earlier this year that the guidelines had helped to cut just over 1 percentage point off inflation.
President Carter decided not to revise the guidelines when they were due to expire at the end of September and said that the administration would produce possible alternatives to the program by the end of this year, after a "thorough review." The election result has changed that decision.
The price advisory committee, which was set up to help develop new guidelines, recently recommended that the current program be kept in place. The pay advisory committee on the other hand, recommended that the programs be allowed to lapse, although it gave no proposed date for its discontinuation.
The pay standard limited increases in wages and fringe benefits covered by the standards to 7 percent in the first year, ending October 1979, and to a range between 7 1/2 percent and 9 1/2 percent in the second year. These standards were extended to the end of this year on an interim basis.
The price standard is more complicated and is based on a combination of profits and costs.