Decree on Consumers' Co-Operatives

Written: April 10, 1918
First Published: Sobranie Uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Rabochego i Krestianskogo Pravitelstva, 1918, No. 32, pp. 393-94.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, The Bolshevik revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and materials, Stanford University Press; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934, pp. 632-633.
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: 2017

1. The Consumers' Co-operatives are to serve the interests of the entire local population.

All trading houses supplying the population with articles of consumption are to be taxed by the treasury to the extent of 5 per cent of their entire turnover. Members of consumers' societies are to be exempt from that tax and are to receive a refund of 5 per cent on their yearly purchases.

2. Those without funds and wishing to join a consumers' society may do so by paying a minimum membership fee (not more than fifty kopeks). They may acquire membership shares by letting the 5 per cent refund accumulate .....

3. Every region or locality is to have its separate consumers' society.

4. Only two Consumers' Co-operatives may function within any given place or territorial unit, one for the general public and one for the working class.

5. All regulations coming either from the central or from the local organs of the Soviet Government, especially those of the departments of food supply which deal with the distribution of products, etc., are applicable both to private trading concerns and to co-operative organizations.

6. Representatives of unions of consumers' societies are to take part in the work of all central and local government organs of supply, supervising private trade enterprises, and putting them under state control whenever necessary .....

7. Owners or managers of private trade or industrial enterprises cannot be on the board of directors of consumers' societies.

8. Co-operatives which succeed in organizing the entire population within a given territory will be granted certain privileges in regard to taxes.

9. The carrying out of the above principles will be undertaken by the co-operatives under supervision of the government organs of food supply.

10. In proportion as the co-operatives are supplied with commodities the attempt will be made to introduce a new wage system by which payment will be made in coupons which will entitle their holders to receive from the co-operative stores certain articles of consumption .....

12. The consumers' societies are to assist the Soviet Government in effecting the transfer of money belonging to private individuals and institutions to the State Bank. The consumers' societies will initiate that movement by depositing at once all their capital in the State Bank. The People's Commissariat of Finance will guarantee them complete freedom to dispose of this capital as they wish.

13. In proportion as the trade machinery and economic resources of the consumers' societies develop, these societies will be charged by the government with the business of supplying and manufacturing commodities under the supervision .... of the Supreme Council of National Economy.


President of the Soviet of People's Commissars