When shoppers in Turkmenistan went to the store this weekend, they were greeted by an unpleasant surprise: Bread prices had tripled and flour prices had doubled.
The immediate cause seems to have been linked to fluctuations on the grain market, though authorities have refrained from explaining the development. Prices for staple goods are tightly controlled – and heavily subsidized – by the state, and thus far analysts doubt the recent changes signal a tentative attempt to liberalize the economy. In any event, flagging subsidies, and the official silence around them, have prompted both grumbling and questions of what the president is planning next.
In the first price hike of its kind since 1997, the cost of a loaf of bread at state-run shops suddenly rose threefold on July 6 to $0.21, while domestically produced flour doubled to $0.35 per kilogram. Though no reliable figures exist, average salaries in Turkmenistan are believed to hover around $200 a month.
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