Turkmen authorities limit cash withdrawals at foreign ATMs

By bne IntelliNews November 8, 2017

Turkmen authorities have reduced the limit on cash withdrawals from ATMs abroad. The State Bank of Foreign Economic Activity (TDDYIB) said on November 6 that clients traveling or residing abroad will not be able to withdraw more than $50 or its equivalent on any given day from ATMs in other countries.

It marks the third time this year the authorities have adopted this measure in an attempt at keeping money circulating within the Central Asian country amid its economic downturn. In March, the TDDYIB set the daily limit at $250, down from $1,000, and cut the limit further to $100 per day in October.

The natural gas-dependent Turkmen economy has for three years faced troubles caused by low world hydrocarbon prices. Failed energy deals have also been a problem in recent years.

The economic troubles have hurt the country’s budget, depleting government revenues. Given the financial woe, the government is ending the era of discounted gas, water and electricity prices in Turkmenistan. Reports say the changes will force households to pay 25 times more for tap water starting from November - 5 manats ($1.43) per 10 cubic meters of water, up from 0.2 manats ($0.06).

The tightly controlled ex-Soviet country still supplies some free cooking gas and electricity to its citizens and sells anything in excess of the free subsidies at subsidised prices. The new price of tap water will also be charged in excess of free monthly allocations. The authorities plan to phase out all subsidies gradually. Moreover, the country has been experiencing shortages in staple foods in shops.

The black market rate of Turkmenistan's national currency, the manat, hit a new low on October 23. Turkmenistan's black market was selling the dollar for 9 manats on October 23, compared to the 7.5 manats demanded for the greenback seen before then in the past month. The official rate of the manat has been fixed at 3.5 manats to the dollar since 2015.

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