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–_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ –_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ –_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ –_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ –_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ –_________ _________ ____ ___________ ____ ___________ _ ___________- _______________________ ________ ____ ______ __ Turkmenistan:
a policy of social welfare in defi ance
freedom and democracy
Public Finance Monitoring CenterAddress: 44, Jafar Jabbarly str., 9 th fl oor,Baku AZ1014, AzerbaijanTel/Fax: (+994 12) 497 89 67, 497 04 67E-mail: offi Brief summary
This document represents an analysis of a social portrait of modern Turkmenistan including characterization of several aspects of evaluation of a living standard, specifi cs of social assistance and preferential government policy and many other interesting aspects of social development of a country. The document also represents an attempt to analyze the regional social differentiation, main spheres and sources of income generation in several regions of the country, the distinctiveness of a level and specifi city of a social life in the capital and provinces.
Therewith, a document contains numerous examples of different type of irrational and even weird facts of a socio-economic policy currently pursued by a government of Turkmenistan. Following the analysis of real features of a socio-economic life, the authors of a paper provided number of recommendations for the decision-makers on cooperation with the Turkmen power. Real outlines of a social portrait
Social portrait of Turkmenistan is a quite controversial. On the one side, unlike the most of Central Asian countries there is neither a countrywide poverty and destitution nor the tension associated with employment and daily needs of a family in the country. There are no serious barriers in accessing major public benefi ts such as electricity, water (as a matter of fact in some regions there is an acute defi cit of a drinking water), gas, heating, etc. It is important to note that signifi cant problem of a social differentiation and decomposition of a people based on the level of income never was a case in country and is not specifi cally an acute challenge nowadays. Apparently, the current portrait of a country is by far different from former soviet one. However, there is no cult of a money and acute decomposition of people to poor and rich. This is obviously because being a rich in a country of an overall political supervision is unsecure and the poverty is being mitigated by pursued policy of subsidizing majority of essential goods and services. The thorough analysis of real social state-of- the-arts both in capital and particularly in the provinces displays the existence and subsequent aggravation of number socio-economic problems which may become a serious handicap on the way of building the society of national welfare. Behavioral stereotype
In order to understand the social portrait of a country it is important to puzzle out the behavior of people, their inclinations and market motivation. In this sense situation in the country is specifi c. As it is known, authoritarian regime (regime of Saparmurat Niyazov) unlike the other countries was established in Turkmenistan immediately after collapse of USSR and it is still the case after some changes. Majority of the privileges of soviet times were still valid while privatization was not done and prices and external trade relations were not liberalized. Majority of people have not felt the shock of market economy which by the way has not become a good fi t in its pure form. Such scenario of developments has turned off a craving of people for market economy, search of income and subsequent enrichment. On the contrary, majority of people still link their welfare with the larger state preferences. That’s why the recent price release and price rise of some goods has caused pained reaction. Obviously that is the reason why the cult of money is not the case (however it does certainly exist covertly) and partially this is the determinant of lack of zeal for luxuries and expensive stuff. However, like the Turkmens assert there is a certain share of historic and mental factors in that matter. Therefore, assessment and analysis of social development of Turkmenistan requires consideration of above circumstances and to that extent it is sometimes diffi cult for the outsider to assess the social level of a country by benchmarking.
Revenues and salary
The income level in the country is not high. The average monthly salary as per offi cial statistics is estimated below 400 manats (the exchange rate is 1USD = 2.85 denominated Turkmen manats). The monthly salary of a public servant varies from 600 to 900 manats. Minimal pension is 121 manats. The salaries, pensions and allowances were increased from January 1st 2010 effective. The teachers of tertiary education are receiving 550 to 800 manats. The rated salary of a teacher in the secondary schools is around 600-700 manats. Having in mind preferential prices this level of salary doesn’t seem to be low. It has to be mentioned that people are afraid of losing the job. Salaries provide a normal living opportunity. The size of salaries does not provide rich mode of life however they are enough to satisfy essential needs. Access to entrepreneurship
The notion of entrepreneurship in Turkmenistan has a relative character. There is no freedom of private sector in the country which is however the customary case in most of former soviet states. The pressure exerted by the state, its unpredictability in relation to business has a countrywide character. That is partially why the small and medium business has symbolic character and fully depends on outrage of bureaucrats and is basically focused at purchase and sale of essentials. The union of industrialists and entrepreneurs recently was created in Turkmenistan. There are more than 600 organizations registered in the union. The registration is subject to the membership fee which is not affordable to all the businessmen. According to the most conservative estimates there are circa 3 thousand entrepreneurs in Turkmenistan currently. Basically these are the trade entities, construction companies, the manufacturers of sausage and cheese products, carpets, silver fi neries, and agro products. Banks are issuing credits with 14% interest rate for the development of entrepreneurial activity. Lending rate is not small however it is quite a fair rate having in mind the expected 7-8% and real 12-13% infl ation rate. Usually consumer credits constitute 14- 18% of all the credits of different categories. There are also special 10% interest rate credits for war veterans. Civil and residential construction
Construction is one of the fastest growing industries. Today the construction of different facilities is performed in the following manner: the construction company invests in construction and then hands it over to a state commission. The state returns the invested money to a company if the commission approves the construction. The next year construction receives the 50% increased amount of money from the budget. However the source of information from the Ministry of Finance asserted that those subsidies will be granted for the construction of target facilities not the residential ones. Residential facilities have suffi ciently been constructed in the country. For example, the employees of Ministry of Finance are fully provided with housing. There are too many residential building of Central bank and Gazprom. However some ministries as Ministry of Construction have insuffi cient number of accommodations. Concessional loans are already being provided for the construction and acquisition of apartments. There is also undergoing mortgage lending. The employees of ministries and state agencies, the customers of the construction receive 50% discount of the apartment’s cost. From 2008 the credit repayment term for the construction of residences and acquisition of apartments was extended from 15 to 30 years with annual lending rate of 1%. The repayment term of the principal debt is extended to 5 years. Ministry of agriculture and construction organizations of Turkmenistan were instructed to run construction activities at the own expense and at the cost of interest rate free loans received from the authorized banks of Turkmenistan for the construction of houses with the height of not more than two fl oors at the identifi ed land lots in the villages, settlements, city urban areas and provincial centers. It is interesting to note that premium level houses built in Ashkhabad are distributed in accordance with the designated list to those who live in Ashkhabad and work in administration for not less than 5 years. This policy is practiced under the National Program of “Strategy of economic, political and cultural development of Turkmenistan until 2020” and also “National Program of the President of Turkmenistan on far-reaching changes of social and household conditions of life of population in the villages, settlements, cities, etraps and etrap centers until 2020”.
Cost of living
It must be noted that there is no regular tension associated with the defi cit in family budget. A family of two working people can perfectly well make a living. Turkmens in general are spending money for the food. Turkmen people are not accustomed to the exquisiteness. Main products which are used for cooking are meat and chicken which are affordable for the poor people in terms of their price. The supplementary products such as dairy, vegetables, cereals are even cheaper. However, the product choice despite that (and maybe because of that) is quite poor. They don’t spend much for the shopping of clothes. They usually but whatever is essential. The salary at the plants and factories is around 550-600 manats. The number of foreign organizations is gradually growing but this is the case in Ashkhabad only. The salary in those organizations is given in dollars and two-three times higher than the average citizen. The prices in general are affordable, however they differ signifi cantly. The price diversity is extremely high. A scone can cost you on the market 1-2 manats, while branded bread – 4-5 manats a piece. On the other hand the price of bread made at the public bakery is cheap – from half a manat and higher. However the quality of such bread leaves a lot to be desired.
Pensioners have an opportunity to be employed but as a rule they don’t have required qualifi cations. The youth can get a job only under a patronage. Those citizens who have diplomas of tertiary education of Russian and other universities can’t get employed although there is a special commission in the ministry of education but the offi cial approval is not for all of the diplomas. Women are eligible for pension since age of 57 and if she has children (3 and more) then the eligibility age is 55. Pension is calculated on the bases of fi ve uninterrupted years of employment in a single entity. From January 1, 2010 (with 10% increase) minimum pension for the participants of Great Patriotic War amounts to 435 manats, maximum pension is 580 manats, maximum pension established on the common grounds is 532 manats. Effective January 1st, 2010 minimum size of the pensions is established as 121 manats and minimum size of pensions with insuffi cient working experience from new year will amount to 84 manats 70 tenge. The allowances for the widows of the participants of the Great Patriotic War who were killed at the front amounted to 242 manats (after the 10% increase) and the allowances for the widows of the participants of the Great Patriotic War died after the war amounts to 181 manats 50 tenge. From January onwards the lump-sum allowance after the child birth will be paid in the following amounts: on the birth of fi rst and second child – 157 manats 30 tenge; on birth of the third child – 302 manats 50 tenge; on birth of forth and next children – 605 manats. Maternity-leave provision will be paid in the amount of 78 manats 65 tenge. The amount of social allowance is 72 manats 60 tenge. National rewards and honorary titles will be preserved as they are in the form of supplements to the pensions and allowances. These supplementary payments will be made to unemployed pensioners and recipients of allowances only.
There are many fables about the system of preferences in Turkmenistan. What preferences do In accordance with the prescript of the Cabinet of Ministers the owners of the motor cars receive 120 liters of free of charge petrol or diesel fuel and the owners of the buses and trucks – 200 liters of fuel. The fuel on top of those limits is sold at the fuel stations of the country on the bases of market prices. Effective February 2008, a price of a liter of A-95 gasoline at the fuel stations is 16 cents. During the rule of Saparmurat Niyazov that gasoline cost around 2 cents. In general the gasoline prices in recent years grew 8 times and the country at the moment is considering the implementation of market retail fuel prices. A liter of A-80 gasoline costs 2.7 thousand manats (around 12 cents), A-92 costs 2.9 thousand manats (around 13 cents) and the same is the cost of a liter of diesel fuel. The citizens of Turkmenistan also have free of charge gas, electricity, water and edible salt. However there are limits for the electricity: each person is entitled to monthly 35 kWh of electricity free of charge. Electricity over that limit will cost 3.23 USD for each additional 1000 kWh. For example, a family of fi ve people pays circa 12-14 USD annually for the electricity. That is the case if you are using the electricity over the established limit. In the long run it may be said that the electricity is almost free of charge just like the water is. The salt is cheap and almost everyone buys it. Only large families are getting the salt free of charge by card system through the household administration. The situation with gas is also interesting: the housewives are trying to save money on the matches and leaving the gas cook- top switched on throughout the day. That is so-called “saving in Turkmen style’. Many houses are heated by gas stoves. The public transport is cheap. However it has become 20 times more expensive compared to 2006. The fare of travel in the bus is 20 tenge (0.7 cents), in the fi xed-route taxi-van is 1.4-2.1 cents. There are not too many fi xed-route taxi-vans and they only cover limited routes. The fi xed-route taxi-vans do not travel through the central street – Turkmenbashi Avenue. Instead of them there is great number of large comfortable busses. There are also many fi xed route taxi-vans, buses and trolley-buses functioning on the other large itineraries. The cost of the travel in taxi cab from one end of the city to the other is 2-4 manats = 0.70-1.40 USD. The prices differ if you travel from the airport: the cost of travel from and to the airport is 3.5 dollars. The cost of a travel on a suburban-service bus is 2-4 manats while in between the cities it is 20 manats (7 dollars). The cost of the one-way air travel ticket is 20 dollars. The cost of the one-way railway travel is 2.5 dollars.
The situation in the provinces is a bit different. In Turkmenabat the fare of travel in the bus is same – 20 tenge (the prices were same in the Turkmenbashi times). The majority of the buses were private. The people who owned the buses bought on the basis of one bus for a family actually were recruited to work in the bus fl eet with their own bus. The buses with exception of shuttle buses are not used In Dashoguz and the fare of travel in shuttle buses is 60 tenge. There are shuttle buses operating in Turkmenbashi and Mari. The cost of a travel in a taxi cab is calculated per passenger. The cost of a travel in taxi cab in Ashkhabad depends on the distance while in the provinces it depends on the number of passengers, i.e. 60 tenge per person.
To say a truth the gasoline in the border towns is less accessible as it is being resold to the neighboring Uzbekistan. The application of gasoline quotas has generated new problems. Some opportunistic citizens have discovered old technical certifi cates of already absent automobiles and are getting free gasoline. This is one of the income sources in the state agencies – acquisition of special vouchers for the free gasoline. Regional differentiation
The capital and the provinces drastically differ in regards to the way, level and mode of life in Turkmenistan as same as in most of totalitarian societies. The major part of the population in the capital Ashkhabad has been provided with favorable atmosphere for the comfortable living (due to the gas sell revenues), however in the regions the situation is quite diffi cult. It must be noted that the population of Ashkhabad is mostly comprised of offi cials. Unlike the provincial centers there are numerous ministries, R&D establishments, universities in the capital city. There are many non-residents. They work as taxi cab drivers or trade at the markets; they also bake in the bakeries and prepare Korean salads. The taxi cab drivers are the non-residents from Lebab, Mara and Akhal. The capital if it is right to say is closed for the permanent residency. Only citizens of Ashkhabad can buy the apartments. The residential registration for the non-residents is practically forbidden. One can get registered only after fi ve years since the marriage date. You may get employed in the other regions if the company recruits you as a specialist. They periodically carry out raids in Ashkhabad to identify non-resident sellers in the shops and expel them out of the capital if found. Non-residents are also the target for searches at the construction sites and particularly at the private ones. The apartments in Ashkhabad are leased to the foreigners at a price of 1000-2000 USD per month. A price depends on a number of rooms, remoteness and distance to the city center. The similar program has been embarked in the provincial towns as well. The premium four-fi ve store buildings were already constructed and put into use in Dashoguz. The price of a single apartment is 30000 USD. This is quite a high price for the province although the apartments in Ashkhabad cost circa 200000 USD. You can lease an apartment in the provincial center too, however there is no high demand and thus prices are not high. On the contrary, there is a high demand in Turkmenabad and that is partially due to the Chinese workers. They are hiring fl ats on the one of rich streets of Turkmenabad The local population having a negative attitude towards the Chinese lately. Chinese are buying the foodstuff in large volumes. The spoiled food then is buried not far from the city. The local population is extremely annoyed by that because not everyone can afford to buy meat products in suffi cient for the family volumes. There are few jobs available in the provinces. New production facilities are being constructed in the provinces but the management is being appointed from the citizens of Ashkhabad. As a rule, they appoint the management personnel from their environment. Locals often pay bribes in order to get a job. Budget of Ashkhabad city and velayats (districts): Administrative-Territorial Division of Turkmenistan on the Regions as per 01.07.2008 Turkmenistan
Regional structure of the volumes of industrial production for the January – September 2009, 25.8% of all the investments of the country are concentrated in Ashkhabad. The construction
of non-manufacturing facilities is prevailing over in the country. The constructions include the development of improved residential accommodation, reconstruction and commissioning of engineering communications, high voltage transmission lines and social infrastructure. There is a large number of medical points. There is a large complex of medical establishments, cardio center, center of treatment of head and neck and etc. in Berzengi (that’s where the hotel Nebitchi is). There are 15 Institutions of Higher Education in Ashkhabad, Academy of Sciences, R&D establishments and engineering-design institutes. There are around 90 secondary schools. There is not much to do in the settlements and the population makes a living from agricultural husbandry. They grow rice and cotton. Rice is being transported to Ashkhabad while cotton is sold to local administration which deals with the procurement. It is forbidden to grow rice in Akhal. Rice is a quite lucrative product but it seriously exhausts a soil. Therefore, rice is produced in Dashoguz and Lebap vilayats (districts). A price of a rice in Ashkhabad is 2-3 times more expensive than in the districts. Districts also supply the country with dairy products. The milk is being transported from the Akhal district and the suburbs of Ashkhabad.
The economy of Akhal district has agro-industrial components. Ashkhabad is situated on its
area. This particular velayat is second after Balkan in terms of the total area (19.8%). The share of the rural population of the velayat amounts to 65.7%.
The region’s specifi c share in agro products is 24% and in the industrial output is 20%. This velayat is ranked third on the basis of these indicators. The share of investments made for the development of the production capacities, infrastructure and social sphere of the velayat is circa 12% of the total countrywide indicator. The share of the commissioning of the production facilities (75.2%) constitutes the prevalent share in the structure of commissioning of the facilities of state sector. Velayat is ranked fourth among regions of the country on the volumes of retail trade turnover. The network of catering establishments is relatively poorly developed. There are 240 secondary schools in Akhal velayat. There are recreation establishments and rest zones created in the regions (Archman, Gokdere, Baharli). Both presidents have come from Akhal and so the entire government has. Both of them have developed this region to a large extent. First president was from Kipchak. Second is from Baharden, the Geoktepe region. The infrastructure of these regions is well developed, the roads and gas supply pipelines for the industrial use are well improved. Although Akhal is an agrarian velayat but the locals there are lazy, the cotton fi elds are careless and there are always problems with falsifi ed harvesting. Basically locals from the direct neighborhood Akhal regions are trading at the markets. Balkan velayat is an industrial region. It is the largest region in the country (28.4%). It is
more urbanized region among all velayats of the country. The 79% of all the population of velayat is residing in the cities. The current capital of the velayat is Balkanabad, the former Nebit-dag. There are signifi cant fuel and mineral-fossil resources available in the velayat, huge number of agriculturally arable lands. Port capacities of the velayat are used for the import-export transportations with other countries. However there is no water available in the velayat. The artifi cial canal named after Lenin (which was built back in soviet times) has not reached the vilayat. The drinking water is being imported. That’s why it is not viable to plant something in the fi elds – it will not simply grow. There is a poor green in the cities too. Railroad crossings used to be resided by Kazakhs before. Nowadays the Turkmens are living there. There are offi ces of Chinese companies and branch Polytechnic institute in Balkanabad where they are preparing oil specialists.
The population of this velayat is provided with jobs in a greater degree than the population of other velayats with exception of Akhal due to the development of Turkmenbashi, Avaza. There are many functioning foreign companies, for example, Polimex – a Turkish company which is in charge for the construction of the airport. 35% of the industrial production (fi rst place) and 4.4% of agricultural products of the country are produced at the territory of the velayat. Velayat is the most capital-consuming region of the country. More than 35% of all the investments in the country are made for the development of the economy of velayat including the improvement of oil and gas deposits, construction of compressor stations, development of the agriculture, transport and residential construction. Esenguli is being developed. That is the place where the pipeline goes to Iran from. It has become known that there are rich deposits of gas and associated gas. The tourism industry and development of the fuel-energy economy is one of the strategic directions of the development of national economy for Turkmenistan. Originally back from the soviet times the population was distinguished with high level of education. The ethnic group is called “iomudes”. They are quite combative and many dissidents have come from there. They are poorly represented in the government. People at the helm of state are afraid of them. The people from among them are being appointed to the management positions in the oil and fi shing sectors (minister of fi shery) as the people who know better the There are around 150 secondary schools in Balkan velayat. The popular infi rmary Mola-kara is located in the velayat. There are also recreational places like Karshi, Karakala in Magtimgulu etrap. Nohur is a special district which is situated in the mountains. The dialect is close to the Iranian here. Velayat Dashoguz. The rural people are prevailing in the structure of the population (66.8%).
Economy of the vilayat has agro-industrial components. Agriculture and industrial processing of the agricultural products are traditionally leading branches of industry. More than 27% of the total volume of agro products (fi rst place) and 8% of industrial products are produced in the region. More than 10% of the total volume of investments of the country is spent for the development of the economy. The major part of them – 88% - is used for the construction of production facilities. Velayat has the network of domestic highway transportation facilities. It is ranked fi rst by the length of the pipelines following Akhala. In accordance with the program “Stratego of economic, political and cultural development of Turkmenistan for the period till 2020” Trans-Karakum railway main line Ashkhabad-Karakum-Dashoguz was put into operation in the fi rst half of 2006.
The share of the sale of the goods at the markets of the velayat in the commodities turnover amounted to 91%. The region’s specifi c share in the entire trade turnover is 9%. There is extensively developed network of catering establishments. Velayat is close by its culture and language to Uzbekistan thus, a great attention is paid to catering establishments. The tastiest scones and “somsa” are baked in Dashoguz. The people of the velayat are hard working and hospitable. Besides all, they are good builders. Too many citizens of Dashoguz have come during perestroika times, got registered and are living by means of commerce. Women are basically working in cafes, small wholesale trade facilities and baking scones. Men are mostly working in construction business. Also men are working in Turkmenbashi, at the sites of Avaza, in the city itself and in the suburbs. There are 507 secondary schools in Dashoguz velyat.
Velayat Lebap is ranked third in total area (19.1%) and has signifi cant economic capacities.
It is the second after Balkan velayat in the level of urbanization. The share of the urban population is 43%. There are substantial reserves of mineral fossils, extensive soil and water reserves. More than 15% of industrial and 23% of agro products is produced in the region. Around 8% of the entire investments are made to the development of the economy. The share of the production facilities in the structure of the commissioned fi xed assets is 84%. The specifi c feature of the region is the closer ties with the states of Central Asia in terms of transport and economic relations. This region has become a leader in the length of the railways and highways. Along with railway and highway there is also air (in soviet times there was a fl eet of YAK-40 airplanes), river and pipeline transport system. Inland river navigation in soviet times was directly subordinated by Moscow. Besides, there was a chemical plant on production of fertilizers in Turkmenabad (former Chardjou) which was also subordinated by Moscow prior to the secession. It is not well handled nowadays and the fame of the plant has faded away. The last fi rst secretary prior to the collapse of USSR was the representative of Lebap. The existing authorities do not like Lebap. However, a new president pays great deal of attention to this region. Citizens of Lebap are also hard working. This is especially notable nowadays as long as the highest bribes for the recruitment are paid in Dashoguz and Lebap. In Akhal you can appoint any person hakim position and then dismiss him/her in half a year time because they are not capable enough to manage neither the cotton harvesting targets nor the agro works in general. This region is close to Uzbekistan and in some of its areas the language is similar to Uzbek. The commerce is well developed in Lebap. Lebap is primarily a cotton growing region. There is a cotton-spinning plant under construction in the region. Rice was cultivated only in Dashoguz before because of many Koreans who used to live there. Nowadays rice is planted in Lebap too as Turkmens have domesticated the experience of its planting. The population is also known as good builders. The region ranked third in the volumes of trade turnover in the country. The share of market sold products is more than 90%. The region is ranked third in the volume of trade turnover in the catering establishments following the capital and Dashoguz velayat. There are 358 secondary schools in Lebap velayat and Turkmen State Pedagogical Institute named after Saytnazar Sayidi. Mari. The economy is primarily based on industry and agriculture. Velayat is ranked third
in Turkmenistan in production of agricultural and industrial commodities (24.3% each). Around 14% of all investments were made in this velayat. The share of the production facilities is 92%. This velayat is ranked second in the sale of trade turnover following the capital. More than 91% of all the commodities of the region are sold at the markets of this velayat. There are 372 secondary schools and State Energy Institute of Turkmenistan functioning in Mari velayat.
Mari (ancient Marv) is located at the Great Silk Way. It is a commercial region which used to get the largest portion of the scarce commodities back in soviet times. The place called Shatlik – a source of the natural gas (sulfur free natural gas) where the gas was delivered to CAC (gas pipeline Central Asia – Center) was located at the territory of Mari. The most valued fi ne-stapled cotton was also harvested in this region. Its population was well-heeled and thus didn’t like working hard to earn money. Therefore it is the poorest population at the time being. The representation of Mari in the government is second largest after Akhal. Under social and regional development topic there is adopted national program of a president of county “On transformation of social and living conditions of the population of villages, cities in the etraps and etrap center for the period until 2020”. The purpose of a program is a signifi cant improvement of social and living conditions of the population of villages and small cities of Turkmenistan, transformation of social development and engineering infrastructure of rural settlements, settlements and cities in the etraps, etrap centers. The period of this program is comprised of three stages; 2008-2010, 2011-2015 and 2016-2020. Government has allocated 4 billion USD for the years 2008-2012 for the realization of the fi rst stage of the program. The remaining regions are less developed. For example, Saydin oil refi nery is distinguished with not only relative technological backwardness but also the shortage of raw material resources and underdeveloped transport infrastructure. Whatever which can’t be refi ned at the Saydin refi nery is transported via railroad to super modern Turkmenbashi oil refi nery. Whims of Turkmenistan
The uniform is obligatory rule in the secondary schools. The uniform for the boys is composed of the suit with white shirt. The suit for the girls includes a long green color skirt with stitchery. The obligatory dress code implies the wearing of red velvet dress with stitchery. Stitchery by the way is not cheap. In average they cost from 10 to 50 USD. There are also more expensive ones for those who can afford. The lecturers and teachers also are required to wear long skirts only with stitchery and long sleeves. Short sleeves are forbidden. No any gold or silver widgets. However the last word in terms of whims belongs to the principle of the school. The dress code is strictly observed at the mass events. Many hotels are being constructed in Avaza. Twenty fi ve hotels have already been built. However you can reside only in fi ve of them. The rest of the hotels are hired and used by Chinese and other foreign organizations as offi ces. Even the entire second fl oor of hotel “Nebitchi” is hired by Chinese logging company. The rental cost of a fl at in Avaza is 50 and more USD per day. The regular people don’t have means to pay that much money. In the winter season the owners of those hotels inviting 50% discount travel to Avaza by disseminating the information via Turkmen organizations. Any offi cial opening of a hotel usually costs 10-20 thousand USD. If only one could estimate the number of people which are being distracted from the main job and how much that does cost to the state. They need crowds of people “rejoicing” the high-day. They need dance performing bands which need to be dressed in expensive clothes. As a rule, majority of those dancing performers are students or the senior high school students. That is the fact of dropout from the education. However, they loudly proclaim that education in Turkmenistan will soon reach the advanced global level. For example, the celebrations of an Independence Day in a festivity-show format has cost the budget 5 millions USD. They started rehearsal a month prior to the celebrations. The rehearsal was not actually about dances but the way that organizations must precede on the square. Each and every day the leadership should have been attending the rehearsals from 3 to 6 pm. In the case of a delay someone would certainly call from the Cabinet of Ministries, minster and further up the chain about the delinquent. That’s how they distract people from their main business. But show must go on – and everyday there is some festivity which assumes the participation of people mass. Main highways of the city are being blocked whenever the national leader travels throughout the city to somewhere. There are not too many highways however. Passers-by are not allowed to the highway in the distance of 500 meters so everyone waits or looks for the bypassing ways. That is an absurdity carried to its ultimate Sometimes (not very often but it happens) the head of state works in his offi ce in the Academy of Sciences. During his stay in the offi ce (that is a separate building by the way) the personnel of other institutes who are employed in the neighborhood buildings (Institute of Geology, Institute of languages, seismology and etc.) are disallowed to come to the work. It happens sometimes that there is no one to work apart from the chief in the organization. The case of polyclinics is an example: some of the physicians are sent to attend the opening some offi cial building or the exhibition while others are sent to the presentation of the next book (about medicinal plants) of the national leader. Those books must be presented in all organizations. TV crew is also invited and all are attending wearing a mask of attention as if learning something which they don’t need at all. The key point is that there are no available physicians in the polyclinics as long as they all attending the events. The only one who is left in the polyclinic is the on-duty staff member and the head doctor. A single physician can’t help all the patients during the outbreak. Although some of the physicians are eligible pensioners they cannot be discharged because the recently graduated physicians with a sense of “self respect” do not work as family physicians and there is no one to work. New and many medical centers were put into operations lately. However, that is nothing but an entourage. There are few specialists available at those centers. New sections were put into operation in Archman, the recreation place not far from (70km) Ashkhabad. The physicians of Ashkhabad and Axal velayats were forced to make a corridor of people wearing white uniforms along the entire highway (yet another show) from Ashkhabad to Archman. However, the physicians had to get to the destination on their own and be at a venue by 5-6 am. No one knows where he or she is supposed to stand beforehand. Only a day prior to the opening ceremony it becomes clear. No one clamors because a pensioner receives the pension that he/she afraid to lose.
Majority of Turkmens like to recreate at the local health resorts. Especially as these resorts are being improved. These places are Archman, Bayram-Ali and etc. The price of the recreation at these places is affordable. For those who pays the insurance (insurance is voluntary and amounts to 2%) the price is 50% less. Ten days voucher to the resort will cost around 150-200 USD per person for a single room. Average working person can also afford such voucher if there are available 50% discounts. There is a high demand for Archman. The registration starts 3-4 months in advance. It is especially popular in winter holidays and summer. Many teachers have an opportunity to recreate at the health resorts. Other resorts are also being improved. Thus, there is no particular desire among population to travel abroad for recreation. The overseas resorts are affordable for the families of offi cials only. Offi cials are not allowed to travel to those places themselves. They altogether are being simultaneously sent to somewhere for the recreation for 5-6 days. Last year they altogether have been sent to Caspian Sea shore. The population can’t help but be concerned of price rise subsequent to the gradual implementation of the market instruments. Some people longingly recalling times of Niyazov when the prices were fi xed and social assistance is more substantial. However it must be said that social discontent has been seriously silenced as long as Berdimukhamedov like his predecessor Turkmenbashi demonstrated his intransigence stance towards the political opposition. Turkmenbashi smashed the political opposition and turned Turkmenistan into the considerably closed country. However the existing president preserved in general the system of social assistance which allows the majority of the population to satisfy the most essential needs free of charge or at low charges and subsidized prices.
The times of Berdimukhamedov are characterized by the emergence of internet cafes. However the internet access is strictly controlled and the internet café visitors are required to show their ID. The presidential term of Berdimukhamedov will expire in 2012 and few people doubt that he will be re-elected. The ruling of Niyazov was memorized as “the golden century” due to the high gas and oil prices. However, Berdimukhamedov want to use his ruling to reform the “soviet” type of economy of the state which is still the case. The main idea behind the reforms is to attract foreign investments to the modernization of the gas recovery infrastructure. The reforms also include the laws on fi ght against money laundering and stimulus for more active crediting in the banks. However, corruption remains to be the part of the local way of life and many Turkmens longingly recall Niyazov’s time when looking into their wallet. As it was mentioned government has raised the gasoline prices 8 times up to the level of 20 cents per liter in 2008. However, as it was the case before the citizens of Turkmenistan receive 120 liters of gasoline monthly free of charge. The alignment of the offi cial course of the local currency, manat, with its market rate has become unpopular reform. These actions are called to strengthen manat and decrease the amounts of the remittances from Turkmens working abroad. Those Turkmens, which are not familiar with the principles of market economy, ascribe all shortcomings in the economic life of the country to the corruptness of the ruling elite and its eagerness to increase its welfare even more. Although there is no offi cial statistics of unemployment in Turkmenistan it is well known that young people are rushing to Ashkhabad looking for the job. Not all of them are successful in their attempts and many of them become the outcasts. Global human rights organizations are making notes of the protests of local workers in Turkmenistan who protest the increase of the salaries. For example, there was a confl ict with Chinese workers during the construction of gas pipeline as it has become apparent that Chinese workers receive higher salaries than Turkmens do. Many investment and construction projects in the country have become frozen due to the drop President managed to foster one of them – the creation of the artifi cial lake in the Karakum desert. It is quite possible that other projects will be revived including the creation of the “Avaza” resort recreation zone and railway from Kazakhstan to Iran.
Socio-economic portrait of modern Turkmenistan can be more expressively characterized by the following circumstances: In general, the living standard in Turkmenistan is higher than in all other Central Asian countries with exception of Kazakhstan. The main factors which allow the relatively reasonable access to main riches are the fi nancial capacity of the state (due to the gas sale revenues), relatively under-population of the country, extensive scale of social assistance of a government and peculiarities of the mindset of Turkmen society.
Slowdown of market reforms, social preferences and the most serious control over the members of the society in practice lead to the slowdown of the process of stratifi cation in the society. There are colossal administrative measures which limit the free realization of the existing material wealth. Perfect example is the ban for the citizens of provinces to obtain a real estate in the capital.
The living standard of the capital and regions differ seriously. Even the mode of life in the regions differs. Due to the administrative barriers there is no fl ow of capital and movement of human resources as active as in other post-soviet countries. The population overreacts to slightest changes in relation to the cut of preferences or price rise. Special historic pathway and current social and political atmosphere in the country is forcing the government to give priority to the non-market methods of governance and preservation of the majority of preferences for the However the tendency of gradual release of the stable prices is becoming more apparent which is fraught with the growth of population’s discontent about government. Recommendations:
To international fi nancial organizations
Considering special circumstances of Turkmenistan, IMF, WB, EBRD, ADB and other banks should be more elaborative regarding the cobwebs of socio-economic picture using alternative sources of the studies. The development of the program on the improvement of the statistical reporting and implementation of the international standard should be defi ned as the priority direction of work with the state.
IMF should more actively utilize the capacities of ADB, the single global bank which operates in the country to start a dialogue with government and access a country. To international donor organizations
To coordinate the work of principal donors interested in the engagement in Turkmenistan in order to ensure more convincing and tangible result.
Gradually foster the support to the initiatives on knowledge capacity building and improvement of monitoring skills and transparency of resource management along with the grant assistance on respect for human rights and liberties.
Considering the diffi culties of fi nding the application of job in the regions, donor organizations for the beginning can focus on the support to specifi c initiatives, i.e. traditional economy (the husbandry skills in local economy, e.g. the carpet weaving).
To the international network of support to the civil initiatives
International non-governmental organizations need to expand the profi le of organizations, engage the wider range of independent researchers and civil activists and with their help create different interest groups gradually strengthening the emphasis on socio-economic sphere.
To systemize the process of knowledge and skills transfer via arrangement of different thematic trainings overseas and henceforth to use the help of those attendees in launching specifi c projects in the country.
To be more active working with students from Turkmenistan who are studying in different universities across the world. To announce a competition among those students for the development of research projects.


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