Turkmenistan cuts budget as low commodity prices bite

By bne IntelliNews November 24, 2015

Turkmenistan’s rubberstamp parliament, the Mejlis, has adopted a draft budget for 2016 that sees lower income and expenditure as the low price of hydrocarbons and other commodities takes its toll.

The budget envisages revenue worth TMT102.5bn ($29.3bn) and expenditure TMT104.9bn ($30.0bn) in 2016. The exchange rate is set at TMT3.5 to the dollar. The 2015 budget set revenue at TMT102.8bn ($29.4bn) and expenditure at TMT106.2bn ($30.4bn), at an exchange rate of TMT3.5 to the dollar.

Turkmenistan’s annual economic growth is expected to decline to 7% in 2015 and 6% in 2016, down from 10% in 2014, “mostly due to flat natural gas and oil production as well as reduced budgetary investment”, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Oil and gas prices have plummeted, and are expected to stay at low levels over the longer term as economic activity in major trading partners including Russia and China slows and pressures on currencies intensify. Falling oil prices have driven down the value of Turkmenistan’s exports of hydrocarbons, its major driver of economic growth and source of foreign currency: exports are set to decrease to $11,612mn in 2015 and $8,928mn in 2016 from $18,535mn in 2014, the IMF predicts.

The low commodity prices are also putting pressure on the country’s national currency: despite maintaining the official exchange rate at TMT3.5, the black-market exchange rate has fallen from TMT3.6 to TMT4.2-4.5 to the dollar since the beginning of November. Law-enforcement agencies have reportedly started cracking down on currency dealers.

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