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Prosperous Turkmen Should Pay for Energy, President Declares

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.

 

 

  • The People’s Council was initially formed in 1992, a year after Turkmenistan became independent, as the supreme representative body with more formal powers than parliament. Berdymukhammedov converted into the purely advisory Council of Elders in 2008, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

 

  • Also on 9 October, Berdymukhammedov said the government would invest 159 billion manats ($45 billion) into the oil and gas sector over the next seven years, RFE reported.

 

  • Gross national income per head in Turkmenistan rose from $600 in 2000 to $7,300 in 2014 before falling slightly to $6,700 last year, according to World Bank estimates.

 

  • World Bank data indicate that the Turkmen economy lags behind Kazakhstan in the region, but delivers per-head income some three times higher than Uzbekistan and six times higher than Tajikistan.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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