Turkmenistan: People face problems withdrawing cash due to newly-imposed restrictions

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Since restrictions on ATM cash withdrawals have recently been introduced in Turkmenistan, residents in the capital city, Ashgabat, have to stand in queues several times in order to withdraw cash from their accounts. A limit of 200 manats applies for a one-time withdrawal, whereas the cash withdrawal fee has increased from 0.68 to 0.75%, independent foreign-based news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports.

Long queues form in front of all Ashgabat cash machines from early in the morning. Despite the restrictions, ATMs run out of cash by 11 a.m.

People have to queue up several times to withdraw their salaries.

Many employees ask their executives for time off to be able to withdraw cash in the morning.

However, it is not possible in all organizations. For instance, medical doctors and nurses are prevented from leaving their work place by chief physicians of medical institutions.

The situation in the provinces is even more complicated. Chronicles of Turkmenistan has previously reported that residents of the city of Mary and other rural areas make arrangements with taxi drivers who go to Ashgabat to withdraw cash at a charge of 10% of the withdrawn amount.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that in the run-up to the New Year holidays residents stock up on groceries and gifts. In large supermarkets and shopping centres, customers can pay for their purchases by credit card, but in the markets and in small stores, where the majority of residents shop, only cash is accepted.
Shop assistants in state-run stores, which are equipped with PDQ terminals, often accept only cash and say that terminals are out of order due to connection disruptions.

Some owners of privately-owned retail outlets sell groceries to neighbors and acquaintances making entries in a log book. The customers promise to pay back as soon as they can get cash out from their cards.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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