Turkmenistan scraps free utilities policy

Turkmenistan has long been known for its rich energy reserves and as a result, has maintained the popularity of its various despotic regimes by providing free public utilities to its citizenry. The government announced today that it will scrap the free provision of electricity, household gas, and water as the economy shows signs of reduced demand for its main export, natural gas. This proposal was made during a meeting of the Council of Elders by dictate from Ashgabat.

It is speculated that the reason why there hasn’t been more dissident activity in Turkmenistan is due to the generous welfare benefits, but it has also led to situations where Turkmenistan is listed as one of the leading countries where water is wasted – despite the region’s notable water shortages. Depressed energy prices have led to decreased cash throughout the Turkmen economy, which is entirely dependent on commodity-driven exports.

This is part of a growing trend – with President Berdimuhamedow ordering that gas meters be installed in homes as a measure to limit the usage of gas, used primarily for cooking.

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