Tag Archives: civil infrastructure

Turkmenistan to start building trans-country motorway

JAN. 26 (The Conway Bulletin) — Turkmenistan started work on construction of a $2.3 four-lane motorway that will run across the sandy Kara Kum desert and connect Ashgabat with Uzbekistan.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov, the son of President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and widely regarded as his heir, launched the construction, highlighting its prominence. The project is seen as a continuation of Turkmenistan’s government policy to try to kickstart its economy through a combination of spending cuts on services and prestige infrastructure projects which aim to generate thousands of jobs and additional revenue.

Turkmen officials have said that the road, the biggest ever built in Turkmenistan, will also build up its position as a prominent stage-post for trade routes running across Central Asia.


>This story was first published in issue 398 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 31 2019
Copyright The Conway Bulletin 2019

Turkmenistan to privatise transport network

JAN. 30 (The Conway Bulletin) — Turkmenistan will sell off its transport network and cut funding to its Academy of Sciences in more cuts to public spending which are designed to keep its listing economy afloat.

In a decree published on Turkmen government websites, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said that the changes were needed to modernise the Turkmen economy.

Last year, Mr Berdymukhamedov slashed subsidies on water, gas and electricity and also raised duties on alcohol and cigarettes. Although information is thin, analysts have said that the cutbacks are a response to Turkmenistan’s sluggish recovery from an economic downturn in 2014-17 linked to a collapse in energy prices. Gas is Turkmenistan’s main export.


>This story was first published in issue 398 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 31 2019
Copyright The Conway Bulletin 2019

World Bank gives Uzbekistan loan to improve life in cities

DEC. 19 (The Conway Bulletin) – The World Bank approved a $100m loan to Uzbekistan specifically to improve life in the cities of Kagan, Chartuk and Yangiyule, media reported. This is the first urban development programme approved by the World Bank. It said that 40% of the country’s urban population lives in medium-sized cities that have often fallen into disrepair.


>>This story was first published in issue 395 of The Conway Bulletin on Dec. 23 2018

Subsidy cuts in Turkmenistan will hurt

–Turkmen subsidy cuts will irritate ordinary people but are unlikely to trigger massive anti-government protests, writes James Kilner

OCT. 1 — Successive former Soviet states have had to bite the bullet on reforming their various subsidy systems. This year, the most high-profile reforms have been to Russian and Kazakh pensions. The age of retirement has slowly been increased with the realisation that the state just can’t afford to pay for so many people in their 60s not to work.

Now news has broken that Turkmenistan has finally decided to do away with its previously excessively generous subsidies. The Turkmen government has been chipping away at subsidy levels for a few years but from January there won’t be any at all.

This is a big leap and there is genuine concern among analysts that Turkmen officials may face the ire of ordinary people. Some analysts have even talked up the possibility of anti-government protests.

Anti-government protests over subsidy cut-backs have happened before in the region. In 2015, protests across Yerevan forced the government to climb down over proposed electricity price rises.

Of course, Armenia is different from most other countries in the Central Asia and South Caucasus region. Street-level politics is an accepted part of the power spectrum in Armenia, as shown by a revolution in April and May that propelled Nikol Pashinyan into the premiership. Georgia too has a reputation for protests as a part of its political spectrum. The Rose revolution of 2003 turned Mikheil Saakashvili into a president. In Tbilisi, the full range of protests — pro-government, anti-government; pro-gay rights, anti-gay rights; pro-drug use, anti-drug use and so on — are relatively common. This year a march by workers of a mothballed regional sugar factory forced the government to reopen it.

In Central Asia, protests are treated with much less tolerance by the authorities and are a rare form of political expression. The main exception, of course, being Kyrgyzstan which has been through two revolutions since 2005.
News from Turkmenistan shows that its economy is doing poorly and points to a population having to deal with various deprivations. There is a lack of basic foodstuffs, money transfers out of the country are limited and people leaving the country are heavily monitored.

Subsidy cuts on basic utilities will hurt and there will be pockets of protests in Turkmenistan. There have been previously when cuts were announced and there will be now. But this is one of the most controlled police states in the world. Small-scale protests are one thing but what is more difficult to envisage are wide-scale protests that genuinely threaten the government.
>>This story was first published in issue 387 of The Conway Bulletin on Oct. 1 2018

Turkmenistan will cut all utility subsidies from 2019

SEPT. 26 (The Conway Bulletin) – Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov signed into a law a decree that cancels the last of Turkmenistan’s once-generous subsidies system, another admission that the country’s economy is struggling to recover from a 2014-17 downturn.

Analysts immediately said that the rollback in subsidies may trigger protests. Previous subsidy cuts have sparked off small rare anti-government demonstrations in Turkmenistan, regarded as one of the world’s most authoritarian and reclusive countries.

Like other countries in the region, the Turkmen government has cut its Soviet-era subsidy system over the past few years but from the start of next year households will have to pay near-market prices for gas, electricity and water. Previously petrol and food had also been heavily subsidised. Media reported that there has been a vague promise that people will pay “preferential prices”, although it is unclear what exactly this means.

Turkmenistan has been slow to recover from a regional economic downturn. Its main revenue generator is gas which is locked into inflexible long-term export contracts with China.

The Turkmen government is trying to broaden its export base. It has opened a new fertiliser plant and a new power plant, both focused on exports, in the past month but analysts have said that revenues from these projects will take time to trickle down to the population.
>>This story was first published in issue 387 of The Conway Bulletin on Oct. 1 2018

Tbilisi metro ceiling collapses

JAN. 30 (The Conway Bulletin) – Part of a refurbished ceiling at a metro station in Tbilisi collapsed, injuring 14 people. The mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, said that the ceiling had only been repaired last year and the criminal prosecutions were possible. Tbilisi’s metro network was built in 1966 by the Soviet Union.


>>This story was first published in issue 360 of The Conway Bulletin

Tashkent metro being extended

JAN. 31 (The Conway Bulletin) –  Uzbekistan Railways is extending two of Tashkent’s metro lines and adding a third line, deputy chairman Oybek Khudoyqulov told media. The line extensions are part of a drive by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to invest in infrastructure and create jobs. The Tashkent metro is one of the most ornate built by the Soviet Union. It was opened in 1977 and has roughly 36km of track.


>>This story was first published in issue 360 of The Conway Bulletin


Investors snap up first Tajik sovereign debt issue

DUSHANBE, SEPT. 7 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Investors snapped up Tajikistan’s first sovereign bond issue, surprising Central Asia analysts who said the auction came with huge risk.

The $500m Eurobond issue came with a coupon of 7.125%, which analysts said was around 200 basis points more than the price paid by other frontier economies for debt. It is set to mature in 2027.

Tajikistan, considered the poorest of the Central Asian countries with an economy reliant on remittances, has said it wants to raise the cash to pay for construction of the giant Rogun Dam.
Lutz Roehmeyer, director at Landesbank Berlin Investment, invested in some of the debt.

“They don’t want to splash out the money on any nonsense, they want to build a dam and produce electricity which would be a massive boost for the local economy,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying. The Rogun dam is part of a wider project to supply electricity generated by hydroelectric power to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tajikistan has a reputation for corruption and analysts warned that investing in Tajikistan was a gamble. Last year, the government bailed out its commercial banks.

Max Lambertson of the EIU said yields on investment grade debt around the world were currently so poor that investors were looking at far riskier options to find profit.

“Investors typically show little interest in Tajikistan, which has a poor record with foreign investors and multilaterals,” he said.


— This story was first published in issue 343 of The Conway Bulletin on Sept. 15 2017

Uzbek President orders new airport

JUNE 30 2017 (The Bulletin) — Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has ordered officials in Tashkent to build a new airport from scratch, apparently dropping plans to build a new terminal for international flights at the current airport. The decree, did not say when the new airport would be completed or how much it would cost.


Copyright ©Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 335, published on July 3 2017)


Uzbekistan prepares metro rail plan

MAY 31 2017 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan plans to start building a metropolitan rail system around Tashkent, media reported. Reports said that the cost of the $320m project would be split between the government ($185m), the Fund for Reconstruction and Development of Uzbekistan ($20m) and China’s Exim Bank ($115m). Since becoming president in Sept. last year, Shavkat Mirziyoyev has placed major emphasis on infrastructure development.


Copyright ©Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 331, published on June 5 2017)