Since the beginning of the year there have been price increases for food, merchandise and medications in Turkmenistan. Observers attribute the price hikes to the fact that free currency exchange was abolished at the start of the year and conversion facilities for entrepreneurs was restricted.
A price hike followed by a speculative demand has been recorded for sugar, oil and cigarettes. However, prices for other merchandise have also increased considerably though there is a sufficient supply of these goods on the shelves of stores.
At almost every government session the Turkmen President demands that an abundance of goods be ensured in the stores so that residents do not form queues. A solution has been found � now people stand in line at the rear entrance to supermarkets and state-run stores without spoiling the image of the front of the building.
Cigarettes, which reappeared for a short time in state-owned retail outlets, have disappeared again and are sold only by private vendors at inflated prices (60-70 manats or the equivalent of 17-20$ per pack using the Central Bank exchange rate). Many smokers have switched to local tobacco and nas (a native variety of chewing tobacco, the production and sale of which is forbidden).
Below we quote some statistics of the price increases for select merchandise since the start of the year.
The price for tinned food has increased by 30,57% on average. For instance, at the start of the year pickled cucumbers produced by RITA company could be purchased at 8 manats, now they cost a minimum of 11,60 manats (an increase of 45%). The same situation is being observed with other tinned food: corn, peas, olives, mushrooms etc.
The price for fresh vegetables has increased by 60,31% on average. At the start of the year tomatoes were sold at 4,60 manats, they now cost 6,50 manats (an increase of 40%). Basil was sold at 1 manat a few months ago whereas now it costs 2,70 manats (an increase of 120%). Bunches of basil can still be found on the market for 1-1.5 manats, but the size of these bunches has been reduced by 2 or 3 times.
The majority of local sausage-making facilities increased their prices by 80% on average.
The price for Russia-made oil has increased by 70%. The price for flour, in some cases, has gone up by as much as 153%.
Russian butter (which is most popular with the residents) is priced 50-100% higher (an increase from 1 to 1,5-2 manats), compared to the beginning of the year.
Cheese has become more expensive by 20%. The price for fresh herring has gone up by 40% (an increase from 15 to 21 manats), Iranian bryndza� by 28%, and coffee � by 40 to 80%.
The price hike has definitely affected sugar. In some velayats of Turkmenistan the price for sugar has increased by 300% (from 3 to 12 manats). In Ashgabat supermarkets the price for sugar has gone up by 70% (from 2,90 to 4,80 manats), and a quota of 1,5 kilos per person applies.
At Cabinet sessions the head of state demands that the government should facilitate substitution of imported foods in favour of local produce. Recently the local mayo NUR appeared in stores with a price tag of 10 manats whereas the Russian mayo Provansal is sold at the same price.
Price hikes have been recorded for perfumery, cosmetics, construction materials etc.
Prices in the majority of cafes, restaurants, and banqueting rooms have not changed, and fees for the services of hairdressers, taxi drivers and tailors have remained at the same level.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan