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Turkmenistan: Shortages in the Era of Might and Happiness

A butcher waits for customers at one of Ashgabat’s markets. Turkmenistan celebrated the 25th anniversary of independence recently with a mass show of pomp and ceremony, yet many households are struggling to keep pace with the cost of living. (Photo: David Trilling)

Turkmenistan celebrated the 25th anniversary of independence recently with a mass show of pomp and ceremony, yet many households are struggling to keep pace with the cost of living.
 
Dependent on energy-export revenue to fill the government’s coffers, a precipitous fall in fuel prices has caused a sudden and drastic economic downturn in Turkmenistan. As a result, essential consumer goods are now starting to grow scarce. The growing list of items vanishing from store shelves is testing the patience of long-suffering Turkmen citizens and exposing cracks in the government’s professed “Era of Might and Happiness.”
 
Layered on top of the economic woes, the lack of freely available foreign cash drove the black market rate for the national currency, the manat, up to eight to the dollar. The official rate stands at 3.5 per dollar.
 
In line with these developments, prices are rising in Ashgabat stores for those goods that remain available. With the exception of bread, dairy goods and some types of grain, all imported goods are becoming more expensive.
 

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Turkmenistan: Shortages in the Era of Might and Happiness

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