WARSAW, OCT. 8 -- Poland's communist leadership today adopted a broad new policy of cutting back central government power and implementing fundamental reforms of the economy in a bid to stabilize the country after years of crisis.
Government officials and western diplomats said the program, approved at a meeting of the communist party Central Committee, was the most ambitious reform initiative undertaken by the government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski since its suppression of the independent Solidarity trade union in 1981.
The plan foresees a major reorganization of state administration, new incentives for private enterprise and initiative and a sweeping wage and price shakeup meant to balance Poland's shortage-plagued internal market by 1990. The Central Committee also agreed to hold a binding national referendum this year allowing Poles to vote on "key issues pertaining to the reform of the economy."
In a speech at the meeting, Jaruzelski said "the successful implementation" of the new measures "could be a turning point for the country." He added, "We are taking a great responsibility on ourselves."
The party meeting came after six months of intense debate over what authorities call "the second stage" of reform of Poland's economy and political life. A first package of reforms, introduced during the legal existence of Solidarity in 1981, achieved a partial decentralization of economic management but was never fully implemented.
The new program, inspired in part by the reform drive of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, is intended to be accompanied by such political steps as the creation of a second chamber of parliament, to be chosen in contested elections; the abolition of laws used to repress opposition activity, and the tolerance of new independent associations and opposition political clubs.
A document submitted to the Central Committee spelled out the political reforms, saying they were essential for implementation of the economic package. But Jaruzelski said today that formal party action on these measures would be postponed until next month, after talks among Eastern Bloc leaders.
Party sources said today's meeting was hastily called this week in order to consolidate support for the economic package, which is to be publicly unveiled in parliament on Saturday. The sources said the party leaders were briefed orally before the session on the reform's most sensitive issue -- price increases and wage controls.
The economic program sets a month-by-month timetable for reorganizing Poland's economy over the next three years, with 130 specific tasks, informed sources said.
An initial package of legislation will abolish or consolidate 16 economic ministries and agencies, eliminating 4,000 jobs, sources said.
Some of the measures envisaged later in the reform are similar to other market-oriented economic revisions carried out in such countries as Hungary, Yugoslavia and China. Polish enterprises may be authorized to issue stocks to their workers and sell bonds, for example, and the state monetary monopoly may be broken up into a western-style competitive banking system.
Other steps should place Poland among the leaders of Eastern Bloc reform efforts. Sources said the plan envisages the relaxing of controls on small private enterprise and allowing entrepreneurs in many fields to start a business without first obtaining a permit. Joint ventures are envisaged between state and private capital in areas such as auto parts and electronics.
Officials acknowledged that the most difficult part of the package to implement will be large price increases for food and other basic goods and controls on wages. These steps are necessary to reduce government subsidies, cut inflation from a current rate of nearly 30 percent to less than 10 percent and end chronic shortages on the domestic market.
Briefing Polish journalists, the reform commission's chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Zdzislaw Sadowski, acknowledged that authorities "must reach an agreement with society" over price increases, which have led to protests and riots in the past. That will mean taking political steps that will win public support for the overall program, he said.
Political observers here said the plan, if implemented, would meet some of the longstanding demands for change made by the political opposition and the Roman Catholic Church. But it falls short of offering a government dialogue with an independent opposition or of recognizing the right of independent trade unions, such as Solidarity, to exist.
The still-active leaders of Solidarity have said the reform is unlikely to be accepted by Poles unless the government is willing to work for its support with Solidarity and the church.
"The government does not want to accept dialogue with an independent partner," said Bronislaw Geremek, an adviser to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, "but without that guarantee, society will not believe in government reforms."
According to the internal party document presented to the Central Committee, a copy of which was obtained from sources, the new measures have faced resistance from party conservatives opposed to the changes on ideological grounds.
However, it declares, "we have to move away from democratic centralism," the Leninist system of totalitarian control of society by the party. "From that point of view we must analyze the whole structure of the conduct of authorities, strengthening that which releases energy, creativity, enriches social bonds, broadens political freedom," it says.
The most innovative proposal in the document is for granting local government bodies in cities and states new powers to collect their own taxes and manage their own affairs without interference from central authorities.
The policy envisages that elections to the "people's councils" at the municipal and regional level will be more democratic, with multiple candidates nominated by citizens at town meetings. The local officials, in turn, would elect representatives to a new chamber of parliament, which would be consulted about all matters affecting local government.