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Rosy economic forecast flies in the face of reports about public belt-tightening.12 October 2017
Turkmenistanis will soon start paying for electricity, gas, water, and salt, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said on 9 October.
The populace has enjoyed free utilities for years, a benefit of the country’s high earnings from energy exports. Speaking at a session of the Council of Elders, Berdymukhammedov said incomes were rising steadily and many jobs have been created as the country recovers from a serious slump, making this a good time to begin phasing out the free utilities, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan, citing the state news agency’s Turkmenistan Today site.
The president said the move would encourage a more rational use of the country’s resources, The Associated Press reports, noting that the slump in global energy prices has hit the economy. Exploitation of its huge natural gas reserves has helped raise per-capita GDP more than 10-fold since 2000 on paper, although the scarcity of reliable economic data makes it hard to assess the impact on ordinary people’s lives.
Berdymukhammedov also announced he would transform the advisory Council of Elders into a more broadly-based assembly with greater powers.
The body presently meets at the president’s pleasure and its main role is to put a stamp of approval on his policies, RFE/RL writes.
Berdymukhammedov said he had received many proposals to change the legal status of the body, now to be known as the People’s Council.
“This will allow people from all social groups to join the Council and ensure that the residents are more involved in the political life of the country,” the state news agency quoted him as saying, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan.
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