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War Economy

Forward Estimates of Supply Requirements

page 124

Forward Estimates of Supply Requirements

We have seen that attention had been given before the war to stocks and supplies of a number of essential commodities. In the early war years there were frequent surveys of reserves, and quite a number of special purchasing arrangements were made to ensure continuity of supplies. All this involved making forward estimates of requirements for many strategic commodities, but it was not until 1942 that forward programming became the general rule. In that year the increasing world scarcity of materials, foodstuffs, and shipping emphasised the need for an orderly disposition of resources among the allied nations. For this purpose the United States and the United Kingdom established a system of Combined Boards in Washington. Much of the production of both countries would henceforth be based on forward planning. Programme planning then became an essential pre-requisite to an elaborate system of rationing or apportioning raw materials and finished products in short supply. It enabled a complete picture of the requirements of members of the allied nations to be obtained in London and Washington, making possible comprehensive planning of production and the best allocation of the goods produced in the interests of the war effort. Allocations under this system took the place of the priority system previously used for procurement from the United States.

The effect on New Zealand was to make it necessary to programme all requirements ahead and to follow these programmes by bulk forward requisitions. This meant that, from 1943, essential requirements from the United States had to be purchased by the Government.

Before long Canada, Australia and India also requested forward estimates of requirements from their production, and, in New Zealand, this necessitated a broader and more systematised basis for programming most of the country's essential imports.

As early as June 1940, the Ministry of Supply had been given power to buy stocks for reserve purposes,1 and in September 1940 the power had been made more immediate and general when Cabinet approved2 ‘that authority be given to the Minister of Supply to purchase reserve stocks of necessary commodities as and when such may be available’.

page 125

The introduction of forward programming and bulk ordering for allied requirements considerably extended the functions of the Ministry of Supply. For a very wide variety of essential commodities it now had to make forward estimates, order in bulk, arrange shipment, reception and storage, allocate supplies to users and retain suitable stocks.

1 Supply Control Emergency Regulations 1939, Amendment No. 1 (1940/121), p. 431, Reg. 4 (5).

2 Cabinet approval of 3 September 1940 on Industries and Commerce file 55/7, Pt 1.