Turkmenistan approves $1.2bn budget deficit
Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), October 20, 2012
Turkmenistan's parliament has approved a $1.2 billion budget deficit for next year to help fund plans to raise salaries and pensions in the gas-rich former Soviet republic, state media reported on Saturday.
The state budget for 2013 envisages outgoings of $31.5 billion versus income of $30.3 billion. The reclusive Central Asian state, which closely guards economic data, did not reveal the size of the deficit in relation to gross domestic product.
Economic growth in Turkmenistan, a country of 5.5 million people, hinges on the development and export of the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves. BP data shows the country consumed less than half the gas it produced in 2011.
Almost every aspect of life in Turkmenistan is controlled by President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a trained dentist who goes by the unofficial nickname of "Arkadag", or The Patron.
State newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported Berdymukhamedov as saying next year's budget would include a 10 per cent increase in salaries and a 15 per cent rise in pensions, as well as investment in the water supply, housing and schools.
Turkmenistan's GDP expanded by 11.1 per cent in the first nine months of this year, largely on the back of an 8.5 per cent increase in gas production. State media have not disclosed the actual size of GDP or natural gas production.
The country has the capacity to produce about 75 billion cubic metres of gas annually and plans to triple output by 2030 after developing large gas fields to supply China, Iran, southern Asia and Europe, as well as traditional market Russia.
A monitoring mission from the International Monetary Fund, which visited Turkmenistan in July, said it projected real GDP growth to remain strong in 2012 and 2013, at about 8 per cent a year.
Tuvakmammed Japarov, governor of Turkmenistan's central bank, said on October 17 that inflation in the first nine months of the year was less than 4.7 per cent on a year-on-year basis.-Reuters