Turkmenistan starts phasing out discounted household utilities prices

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on October 11 ordered the end of deeply discounted water, gas, and electricity for Turkmen citizens in a decree prompted by falling energy prices and sales that have depleted government revenues, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reports.

Reuters reported that the move will force Turkmen households to pay 25 times more for tap water starting next month.

Under Berdymukhammedov’s decree, the price of tap water supplied in excess of a free monthly allotment — 7.5 cubic meters per person — will rise to 5 manats ($1.43) per 10 cubic meters from 0.2 manat ($0.06) starting on November 1.

Berdymukhammedov said earlier this week that his cabinet would phase out subsidies gradually, indicating there would be more price hikes.

Citizens of the former Soviet republic still get some cooking gas and electricity for free and obtain what they do pay for at subsidized prices.

“The time has come to save and use state funds effectively,” Berdymukhammedov said.

Savings from the phase-out would help finance a $69 billion, seven-year investment program, of which $45 billion is earmarked for the energy sector, the president said.

The Central Asian nation of 5.5 million bordering Afghanistan sits on the world’s fourth-largest natural-gas reserves.

Turkmenistan’s export revenues dropped after global energy prices plunged in 2014, and again after Russia, once the main buyer of its gas, halted purchases in 2016.

After Russia stopped buying Turkmen gas, Turkmenistan became dependent on natural gas sales to China.

Sergey Kwan

TCA