Turkmen residents express discontent with the imposed restrictions for overseas money transfer

Residents of Turkmenistan are expressing discontent with the imposed restrictions pertaining to Western Union money transfers.

A week ago separate bank offices providing the services of Western Union money transfer were assigned for each etrap in Dashoguz velayat. The working schedules of bank offices are not consistent. For instance, Senegat bank issues tickets for the transfer of $150 (525 manats at the official rate) once in two months, whereas a ticket in Turkmenashi allows customers to transfer $100 a month.

On 7 January a group of 10 parents of study-abroad students had an appointment with the khyakim of Dashoguz. The residents wanted to find out why the money transfer limit in Dashoguz is lower than in other provinces. The deputy khyakim responded that the restriction is caused by the fact that the region makes the smallest contribution to the Turkmen economy and recommended to solve their problems on their own.

The official emphasized that last year alone some 1600 students from Dashoguz velayat were admitted to universities and colleges in Uzbekistan, whereas other school graduates were enrolled into higher educational establishments in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It was implied that there are too many students to whom money transfers are sent to in manats at the official rate but received in US dollars (the black market rate is four times higher than the official rate and the money transfer fees are covered by the banks).

A week ago a group of 12 people filed a complaint to the public prosecutor's office and the NSM. However, they were almost placed in pre-trial detention facilities for sabotage and defamation of the state-run banks. Now the residents intend to write letters to higher-ranking authorities and collect signatures.

In Ashgabat tickets for the next month are distributed on the 20th of the month. From early in the morning queues form in front of the bank offices on that day. People keep order and make a waiting list which is then handed over to a police officer at the entrance, who, in his turn, hands it to a bank employee.

Bank employees subsequently check the provision of all the required documents (copies of a student passport, a notarized copy of a university enrolment certificate, a copy of a student ID and the salary certificate or pension allowance certificate since the sender is not allowed to transfer an amount exceeding his monthly statement) and issue a ticket for a certain date. No more than 30-35 people are served a day. Those who come earlier get a ticket for the beginning of the month.

Senegat bank has a money transfer restriction of $300 a month whereas other banks allow only $200 to be transferred. In this connection queues of 100 to 150 people congregate in front of their bank offices. Those whose salary amounts to $200 or less contact other banks.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan