By Aisha Berdyeva
In modern Turkmenistan the citizens can forget not only about the fact that people have a right to know where the money of taxpayers are channelled to but also about why the sums spent are unreasonably high.
If one makes a short analysis of the speeches of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the question arises: does he have an economic adviser? Or financial adviser? Or a budget planner? Or does he have a speechwriter? Or something of this sort? Is there a Ministry of Finances in Turkmenistan at all? It seems that there is. Does it operate?
Chairing the 8 July meeting which focused on social infrastructure development, the President briefed the officials on the large scale building projects which are the currently underway in the country and how much it would cost.
For instance, a modern sports complex which is being built in Turkmenabat (Lebap velayat) by the international group of companies «Itera» costs 20 million dollars. The project consists of a swimming pool, a stadium, a hotel and other facilities. The project was ordered by the khyakimlik of the Lebap velayat.
The undertaking is plausible and the price is quite fair taking into account the scale of the project.
Then another question arises. In May 2008 during a governmental session the President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered to renovate two cinemas in Ashgabat and allotted another 20 mln dollars for that: 12 mln for one cinema and 8 for another.
One must not be an expert to understand that the price for the renovation works has been multiply overcharged; in this particular case 11 and 7 times respectively. The information on the actual costs of renovation of an old cinema can be easily found on-line: one million dollars!
All understand that the renovation works of a cinema cannot cost 12 mln dollars no matter how badly the cinema dilapidated is. Nor can the renovation cost 8 million. However, this is stated by the President of the country.
Surprisingly, he has no slightest doubt about this sum. Furthermore, two months later, at the session of government the President briefed on the construction of the large sportscomplex with a swimming pool, a stadium and a hotel, and all this costs as much as the renovation of two cinemas! However, no one at the government meeting questions this as well.
Does this country have a budget at all? Or a budget commission? What criteria are applied when cost estimates are approved for this that construction project? Or everything is decided, as usual, «with a stroke of the pen» by the leader of the state? In this case, it is better either not to mention about this or to edit the President’s speeches. It might be that some one considers the people of Turkmenistan ignorant but they are not ignorant to such an extent.
In his speeches, Berdymukhamedov often talks about «national model of the development of the Turkmen economy». It appears that at this rate Turkmen economy will move rapidly. Most likely, in the wrong direction.