How the elderly live

As of today, the minimum pension amount in Turkmenistan is three times lower than a student stipend. The average stipend equals to approximately the equivalent of $140, whereas the minimum pension is 133 manats (an equivalent of $47). Starting from 1 January it will be increased to 150 manats ($53).

Since President Berdymukhammedov’s rise to power, legislative acts, which had a positive impact on the life of population, have been introduced. For instance, Turkmenistan’s Code “On social security” was endorsed on 17 March 2007.

Before, not all retirees had their pensions reviewed. Turkmenbashi the Great thought, for instance, that agricultural workers did not need pensions– “let their children support them”. Moreover, this happened under the existing unemployment rate which, according to various estimates, affected 50 to 70 percent of population.

The adoption of the revised Code allowed for the payment of pensions to socially vulnerable groups of population, such as women who have raised three and more kids, people who have insufficient employee tenure (provided that employee tenure is calculated as five or more years) and agricultural workers.

“We have been looking forward to the salaries and pensions increase in the run-up to the 20th independence anniversary, which was so widely celebrated, but prices for groceries have already increased. I dropped by at the bakery in the Tekin bazaar – a loaf of bread which cost 30 tenge in September is now sold at 60 tenge ($0.2), prices for meat also increased from 12 manats ($4.2) to 15 manats ($5.2), sugar is more expensive now…”, – a retired woman complains.

In other words, prices for groceries increased from 25 to 100% whereas pensions were reviewed by 10% only and the increase will be enacted only starting from 1 January 2012.

Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world for natural gas reserves. The authorities are not capable of ensuring a dignified standard of living for the elderly, who had worked hard for decades. Why are such small retirement pensions lower than students’ stipends?

Nevertheless, the participants of the Elders’ Council session, which was held during the festivities, seemed to be quite happy after getting various gifts. At the same time, some of them complained to their family members that they were encouraged to wear diapers, which had been purchased at the shopping mall Yampash, and were transported at 5 a.m. to the Podvoyskaya street close to the festivities venue and were forced to stand for several hours in cold weather, biting wind and pouring rain. The elderly did need diapers, though they suspect that it did not smell well in the conference room.

Source: TIHR