Ashgabat (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkmenistan’s Orthodox community could not get eggs for Easter this year, as the country’s economic and monetary crisis continued.
Eggs have not disappeared entirely, but they have been hard to find and deliveries have been spotty. Some retailers have been forced to sell a maximum of 10 per customer.
In the capital, eggs were selling at 33 tenge (US$ 0.10) apiece. There are 100 tenge in one Turkmen manat. For Orthodox Christians, boiled and painted eggs are an important part of the Easter celebration.
According to EurasiaNet.org, at one state-run store, the shopkeeper refused to sell a 30-egg crate, “otherwise nobody else will have any,” he said.
Not only are eggs hard to come by, but so are chicken legs and sugar. Often customers can only buy no more than two kilograms of sugar.
Many types of cheese have completely disappeared, and those that are on sale significantly increased in price.
Food prices have risen 18 per cent or more since the beginning of this year. For some products, the price rise reaches 50 per cent.
Imported flour – from Russia and Kazakhstan - went up from 3.4 to 4 manats. The price of canned olives rose from 7 to 9 manats. Vegetables and fruits also significantly rose in price. If at the beginning of the year, potatoes cost 2 manats per kilogram, now it is 3.8 manats.
Along with price hikes, the value of the Turkmen manat is falling. On the black market, one can get 7.2-7.5 manat per dollar whilst the official rate is 3.5 manats for one dollar.
In addition, since February Turkmen authorities have radically limited the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from bank accounts, both inside the country and abroad.
Under the new rules of the Vnesheconombank of Turkmenistan, the amount of money cashed abroad may not exceed US$ 250.
The minimum wage in Turkmenistan is 650 manats (185 US dollars at the official rate or 118 US dollars on the black market).
According to Diplomat on 4 April, Turkmenistan ranks last in terms of investment attractiveness because of political interference in the country’s economy.
The Turkmen economy depends heavily on hydrocarbon exports, which took a hit after Russia and Iran cancelled some contracts, and the construction of line D was suspended. The latter would have been the country’s biggest pipeline.