The population is paying for what is supposed to be free
The state program that makes the population entitled to free electric power, gas, running water, and salt will continue in Turkmenistan until 2020 as Ferghana.Ru has already reported. Gundogar reports indicate that all of that has to be paid for all the same, because of the size of state allowances. The population has been entitled to these social benefits since 1992, but it is running water alone that is actually free. Even that, however, is problematic because running water is not always available. One Govher Amanova of Tashkent admitted it pained her to see all the fountains in the city when she and her neighbors in the 11th District had running water in their apartments only deep at night. In daytime, she (and all others from upper floors of the apartment house) is compelled to bring water from the ground floor in buckets.
What residents of other districts of Tashkent agreed to talk to this correspondent tell pretty much the same story. In the 6th District, for example, water pipes are so rusty and clogged that there is no running water at all, days or nights. Water has to be bought at $1 per 1.5 liters. People are compelled to visit public baths and use laundries.
As for electric power, it is strictly limited too (35 kWt/h per a family member and almost triple that per a family of two). Victor Semyonov of Mara says it is only enough for lone grannies who never turn on anything but lights in their flats. Families on the other hand use air-conditioning, frigs, and other home appliances that require so much electric power that they are compelled to pay $20-30 every month.
The situation with gas is not any better. Mubarak Muminova of the Lebap Velajat says that municipal officials walk door to door in the region collecting gas fees depending on family size. Her own family of four paid almost $10 - a serious blow at the family budget in country where the minimal monthly salary amounts to only $20. Gas meters are to be installed in apartments soon.
As for free salt, it is but another myth. Disregarding the order to give it out free of charge, state-owned shops never do so. They always seem to have a valid reason not to - expensive transport fees, unloading, and so on. Moreover, whoever is after free salt is supposed to show his or her passport with the local residence registration, and passports are usually left at home. And so the Turkmens pay. A kilogram of salt cost $0.2 only recently but costs $0.5 now. Observers are convinced that salesmen use the existing state of affairs to line their own pockets.
© Translated by Ferghana.Ru news agency