Turkmenistan on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe
Farid Tuhbatullin (Ashgabat)
Turkmenistan, a country with huge gas and oil reserves and a population of just over five million people, after 14 years of independent development, was unable to support its retirees and people with disabilities, depriving most of their pensions and benefits.
The reason for this was seen by many in the wasteful use of state funds for the same gas and other resources.
Indeed, according to experts, there was no need for a grandiose lake in the desert, the authorities allocated $ 4.5 billion. Against these figures, $ 63 million allocated for the construction of an artificial river crossing the capital or $ 55 million for the construction of a new The exhibition complex, not to mention the numerous marble palaces worth several tens of millions, seems like a small waste.
Such profligacy, which has been going on for more than 10 years, could not withstand the budget of a more developed and rich country. And it is quite natural that the Turkmen government has to constantly cut spending on social needs, education, medicine, and public utilities. And this is only the tip of that iceberg of unsolved, or frozen and accumulated problems.
The country has destroyed the system of government. Personnel hunger is so strong that it is sorely lacking skilled managers. Upon appointment, each new head of a department or region receives a blank check for “interim management” - 6 months. Everyone understands that in such a short period it is impossible to rectify the situation and achieve results in a single department or region. What awaits them after a certain period of time, officials are well aware - at worst a prison, at best - they will receive the stamp of a “careless manager” and lose the opportunity to ever find a job.
This perspective, forcing most government officials to irresponsibly report on nonexistent achievements and accomplishments, and in parallel to extract personal gain from all that is at their disposal for a limited time. You need to have time to "earn" something for the children. Corruption is not a Turkmen invention, but Turkmenistan has created a very fertile ground for its rapid flowering.
It is this kind of government, or rather its absence, that led to the collapse of agriculture. The focus was not on the interests of the peasant, but on the mythical "interests of the state." As a result, the population of the country was transferred to a rationed (rationed) system for the distribution of flour and bread. And despite the fact that last summer, record harvest of wheat was announced.
Recently, the president announced the need to reduce, i.e. the dismissal of five thousand workers in the fuel and energy complex, although it is precisely this department that is a budget-forming country. If we consider that in a country rich in gas, there have been frequent cases of its shortage and interruptions in the gas supply system, then apparently the authorities want to save both gas and the cost of wages to industry workers.
The country has destroyed the education system. Since 1993, under the pretext of fighting the communist ideology that was present in the Soviet education system, education reform began. The result of the reform was an even greater ideologization of curricula in secondary, specialized secondary and higher educational institutions.
Not only the terms of study were reduced (secondary schools - to 9 years, the highest - to 2), but also the volumes of studied disciplines were greatly reduced. At the same time, the works of the president, and first of all Ruhnama, became the main subject of study. Knowledge of this book guarantees students good grades in all other disciplines.
Taking into account the fact that not only those who came to school in 1993, but also those who already studied in 3-4th-5th grades began to study under the new school curriculum, the time is now coming when structures will come the most successful young cadre who graduated from reformed Turkmen universities. Out of respect for their human dignity, I do not want to call them mankurts, but the updated education system is designed to train not specialists, but obedient and dedicated people to the current regime.
Obviously, it is precisely in this and the next 2–3 years that the president will appoint as managers the youth he brought up and devoted to him. And, if the current generation of managers, including middle and lower level, having a Soviet education, is still trying to do something for the country (only thanks to them, the economy is still functioning), then the new generation, which has neither a normal education, nor work experience, it will be formally concerned with ideology and corruption from the inability to solve problems in a different way.
In many countries, there is a practice of attracting to the management structures of the state, leaders of large business structures. But they are not in the country, because there is no big business, no, because a rich person is an independent person, and this is very dangerous for the authorities. On the other hand, the pressure on private business is one of the main causes of mass unemployment in the country. What is more dangerous for the authorities, a rich businessman, or the unemployed masses, time will tell.
There is no other personnel reserve to somehow rectify the situation. Many talented leaders had already been ground by the millstones of power, many had safely left or had to flee the country. Those who remain are not suitable either because of “non-Turkmen” diplomas, or they have a “bad pedigree”, or they are not of the same nationality.
Returning to the unfortunate pensioners (although many of them are no longer pensioners), I want to say that they were often the breadwinners in many families. Their adult children, without having a job or a permanent salary, were forced by the whole family to retire their parents. But January 2006 brought dramatic news for many families. And despite the fact that the Law “On the State Budget of Turkmenistan for 2006” established: “... protected items of state budget expenditures are wages, pensions, allowances and scholarships”. A month later, these "protected" articles were "unprotected."
As a result of these and other reasons, a country with enormous resources and rich human potential turns into a bankrupt state in which hundreds of thousands of old people and people with disabilities are left without maintenance, hundreds of thousands of able-bodied citizens are left without work, and hundreds of thousands of children and young people are not able to get a normal education.
Taking into account the above circumstances, even if we assume that tomorrow the president will cease to be carried away by grandiose multi-million projects, and will send all revenues for gas and other to social needs, there is no likelihood that something will change radically. The local managers plunder and squander most of the funds, due to the fact that it is so "more familiar" or "more convenient."
So, in any case, a humanitarian catastrophe in Turkmenistan cannot be avoided.