The Turkmen television is showing footage featuring tenant farmers withdrawing cash from ATMs for the wheat harvest they have handed in and putting banknotes on the forehead.
It is quite complicated to withdraw cash in major cities, let alone rural areas which are not equipped with cash machines at all. Correspondents of Chronicles of Turkmenistan report that there are also no PDQ terminals to pay for the purchases with bank cards.
Residents of Bairamaly, Turkmengala, Ioloten, Tagtabazar, Serkhetabat etraps, who received from 1 to 3 thousand manats for the wheat harvest and silk cocoons to their bank accounts, form queue in front of the cash machines in regional centres in an attempt to make cash withdrawals.
In Mary velayat residents line up in front of the cash machines where the amounts of 200 to 400 manats can be withdrawn. According to locals, sometimes it is possible to withdraw the amounts of up to 800 manats.
If there are 15 to 20 people queuing in front of you, it is quite unlikely that there will be cash left for you, a village inhabitant from Tagtabazar etrap said. Those who failed to obtain cash, stand in line all night hoping to make a withdrawal in the morning. Bank staff advise to come the next day after lunch. However, out of fear to lose the place in the queue, people wait in front of cash machines.
Rural inhabitants and residents of Turkmenistan's small cities buy groceries in the markets where only cash is accepted. Having no opportunity to withdraw cash, rural inhabitants cannot buy groceries and basic consumer goods. In this connection, there has been a longstanding practice when vendors sell goods on credit by making a special entry in the log book. When the debt exceeds a certain amount, a vendor refused to sell merchandise to a customer until the debt is fully repaid.
Not only farm tenants are affected by the shortage of cash. Public sector employees, teachers and healthcare practitioners, who planned to spend their holidays at the Caspian Sea Coast, are unable to go there without any cash.
We contact taxi drivers en route to Mary or Ashgabat, which are better equipped with ATMs, with a request to withdraw cash. The driver agrees to do so for a commission of 10 manats for a 500 manat withdrawal, a secondary school teacher from Iloeten said.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan