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Are cut benefits likely to cause protest?

The authorities of Turkmenistan are refusing to provide the previously declared benefits and incentives to residents pertaining to quotas of free natural gas, electricity and car fuel.

The relevant ministries have been instructed to impose stringent control over the monthly limited usage of electric power and natural gas.

The reason is that over the past years the consumption of these resources has been on the rise and moreover, some constraints surfaced when fulfilling contractual obligations on energy resources supply to foreign partners. In this connection starting from 15 July a free monthly quota of electric power was reduced from 35 kW to 25 kW per person. The natural gas quotas provided to the residents were also cut down.

In late July the state-run holdings "Turkmengaz" and "Turkmenenergo" distributed a circular letter to their local offices with a request to make a meter-installing procedure more stringent. Those households which do not have meters, need to get them installed within 30 days. It is now mandatory for all employees of state-run organizations and agencies to get electronic meters installed in their houses which cost 300 manats (equivalent to $105).

In remote areas of Turkmenistan the local authorities occasionally cut off electricity. In July and August 2013 the Dashoguz Velayat experienced power supply disruptions, which sparked discontent among the residents. Electricity is cut off three times a week, from 9 p.m till 6 a.m.

In March 2012 the Turkmen government ceased to distribute coupons for free petrol and diesel fuel to the owners of trucks. The Parliament of Turkmenistan is reportedly developing a bill pursuant to which distribution of free petrol to the owners of private vehicles is expected to be abolished.

The Turkmen authorities are using various tricks to impose restrictions on free petrol to the owners of private vehicles. In particular, car maintenance and diagnostics shops are creating all kinds of obstacles when issuing certificates of conformity for vehicles. Based on these certificates the road inspection gives a car owner a coupon for free petrol.

It is not surprising that such measures undertaken by the authorities are negatively perceived by the residents. Observers believe that the incident when the car maintenance and diagnostics shop was set on fire at night by unidentified individuals in early August in Mary is related to this and was treated by many residents as an act of protest.

As a result of arsony, the entire building and property of the car maintetance and diagnostics shop burnt down together with other stores located nearby.

Source: TIHR