Turkmenistan plagued by currency woes

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Residents of Turkmenistan continue experiencing serious problems due to the restrictions on foreign currency conversion and overseas money transfers, the independent foreign-based news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports.

Correspondents of Chronicles of Turkmenistan in the country report that the Turkmen banks are still blocking VISA cards of holders overseas. In a telephone conversation the bank call centre staff confirmed that they are aware of mass blocking and asked for patience until the problem is solved. The banks fail to provide any explanation of the problem or to inform how long it will take to get the issue resolved.

Moreover, Turkmen residents crowd around those bank offices which provide Western Union money transfer services.

In order to use these services, a customer needs to get a ticket indicating the date a person can come to the bank and make a transfer. Tickets are now being distributed for August and September.

Obtaining a customer identification ticket is also quite a challenge. Queues in front of WU offices are formed from early in the morning at rear bank entrances. People try to organize themselves, and to respect the line by making waiting lists, but they do not always succeed. Often queues turns into a disorganized crowd where fights break out.

After obtaining the ticket, people are confronted with another problem: a maximum of $500 a month can be officially transferred but in real life only $100-300 are accepted for a money transfer in Ashgabat.

Western Union and VISA have given assurances that no restrictions have been imposed by them and that it is the local banks which bear the responsibility for this situation.

Turkmenistan is currently experiencing a deficit of foreign currency due to decreasing revenues from natural-gas exports.

Sergey Kwan

TCA