MOSCOW, AUG. 10 -- The Soviet leadership said today it will set up a fund to pay for the denationalization of property and raise prices paid for agricultural products -- a move intended to begin the transfer to a market economy and ease shortages.
The property fund is intended to help speed the transfer of state properties and enterprises to private ownership. The fund also would determine prices for state properties.
Especially now that various republics -- including Russia under the presidency of Boris Yeltsin -- have come out in favor of Western-style private property, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has appeared to break with decades of communist ideology. Although he has not endorsed private property publicly, some of his closest economic advisers, including Stanislav Shatalin, have said the establishment of a market economy without private property will be impossible.
The Soviet news agency Tass said the new property fund would be aimed at helping to dismantle state business monopolies and "carry out measures to privatize property." Another of Gorbachev's economic advisers, Deputy Prime Minister Leonid Abalkin, said the fund would help put property in the hands of private citizens.
The government also said it would raise prices an average of 32 percent beginning Jan. 1 for sugar beets, cotton, tea, tobacco, linen, dairy goods and livestock -- a move meant to encourage production.
The government is trying to infuse the agricultural system with greater efficiency and incentives. Food shortages continue to be the country's most persistent, talked-about problem, and collectivized Soviet agriculture appears unable even to cope with good fortune.
Economists here say that because of poor roads, gas shortages and poor organization about 10 percent of this year's crop will be lost. Because of favorable weather conditions it has been expected that the grain crop will total a record 260 million tons. The economists estimate that as much as 2 million tons of grain rot daily for lack of storage.