The importance of provision for emergency was inscribed in law

The Act on the National Board of Economic Defence entered into force on 20th May 1960. Since then the Board’s position is defined in law.

Organization of economic defence

The question concerning top economic management in emergency situations was still not resolved. General Tapola’s proposal for economic regions and staffs did not progress beyond the planning stage. A proposal for National Emergency Commanders was presented at the meeting of the central sub-committee of NBED in January 1960. The creation and stabilization of a system of National Emergency Commanders constituted the main tasks of NBED in the early years of the 1960s. During the next 17 years economic defence was organized on the basis of this model.

National Emergency Commanders were to have extensive powers in emergency situations

The need for and the extensive powers of National Emergency Commanders were explained by the fact that central government administration must manage a lot of new tasks in an emergency situation. This cannot be accomplished without enlarging the scope of activities of several civil service departments and without establishing wholly new ones. Most of the tasks require quick decisions and their immediate implementation. For that reason there must be unprejudiced delegation of decision making powers directly to the implementing bodies concerned. Collegial methods for implementation must be abandoned. NBED envisaged the Commanders’ position so that they were to be appointed by the President of the Republic and they were to have sufficient powers to act on their own responsibility, instead of the competent Minister.

The National Emergency Commanders were to be the following:

  • Transport Commander,
  • Medical Care Commander,
  • Agricultural Production Commander,
  • Firewood and Fuel Commander,
  • Construction commander,
  • Industrial Commander,
  • Information Commander,
  • Manpower Commander,
  • Foreign Trade Commander,
  • Communications Commander,
  • Power Supply Commander and
  • Civil Protection Commander.

The National Defence Council appointed the first Commanders already in 1960 and the last ones in 1963.

Organization of the National Emergency Commander System

When the National Board of Economic Defence was organized in 1956 industry organized itself as the Board’s industrial sub-committee and as sections under the auspices of the latter. Reorganization of administration and of production were ancillary features of the national emergency commander organization. The Industrial Planning Commission operating in 1960 – 61 made a proposal that resulted in the pool organization. The idea was that each branch of industry was to organize itself as a pool with branch management covering the whole country. The pools were to be prepared to become units of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, if needed.

In 1962 the National Defence Council accepted the arrangement where the industrial sub-committee and its sections were the corollary of the pool organization. This meant that Mr Tapola’s and Mr Junttila’s district organization model was rejected. The pools’ position became official in 1968 and 1969 when agreements were concluded between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the pools.

Active preparations and exercises in the 1960s

The first pool exercises were held in 1960. Intensive exercises and training were pursued during the entire decade.

Disagreements block stockpiling

The international crises at the beginning of the 1960s resulted in consideration of national emergency stockpiling. Nothing had happened in this sector since the Act on State Emergency Stockpiles had entered into force at Christmas 1958. At that time NBED had initiated a legislative project concerning a General Emergency Stockpiling Act, i.e. the establishment of private emergency stockpiles, called security stockpiles. NBED wanted the costs for enterprises to be compensated by tax relief, but the Ministry of Finance firmly opposed the idea. The issue remained blocked for twenty years.

The question of powers and competence in emergency situations was still unresolved. The Emergency Situation Act had been knocked down already at the drafting stage. In 1961 the Ministry of Trade and Industry established an Emergency Powers Act Preparation Committee. However, no representative of NBED was appointed member of the Committee. The following year the Committee presented its report formulated as a Government Emergency Powers Bill, but various instances knocked it down.

Finally some progress was made in 1970

Also this project was buried for several years. In 1968 the National Defence Council asked the Ministry of Trade and Industry to prepare a draft bill for an Emergency Powers Act. This project was more successful and the result was the Act on Safeguarding National Subsistence and Economy under Emergency Conditions. The Act was adopted in 1970.