The walls seem to be closing in on Tajikistan. On top of electricity shortages, Dushanbe has been hit by a drastic rail transit rate hike imposed by Uzbekistan, and a potentially devastating increase in energy export tariffs levied by Russia.
The Russian tariff increase, which went into effect in early April, has had an immediate inflationary impact. The price of petrol in Tajikistan has shot up 6 percent already this month, causing the annual inflation rate to exceed 30 percent. Tajikistan had benefited from tariff-free energy exports from Russia for 15 years until the Kremlin implemented tariffs in mid-2010. The April tariff increase is pummeling Tajikistan’s beleaguered agricultural sector, driving up costs for farmers amid the spring planting season. The end result will be a substantial rise in the cost of food later this year in Central Asia’s poorest nation. According to official statistics, Tajikistanis already spend more than 60 percent of their income on food.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.