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How to survive on seven dollars?
Rahmon Boltaev (Dushanbe)
Back in April 2005, the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov, delivered an annual message to the country's parliament, in which he stated that the standard of living in the republic can be improved by “working hard.” Designating the fight against poverty as one of the main goals of the government of Tajikistan, the head of state said: "I promise you that if we all work tirelessly in this direction, then in 3-4 years the standard of living of the people will change significantly." In the meantime, the situation in the socio-economic sphere remains all the same critical. Thus, according to the poverty assessment conducted by the World Bank in 2003, 64% of the population lives in Tajikistan below the poverty line. This year the situation remains unchanged. The country has no problems with only demographics. According to the State Statistics Committee under the government, 6 million 920.3 thousand people now live in Tajikistan. This year, a seven millionth resident of the republic will be born, who, alas, “will be lucky” will be born in an economically backward state.

Strange, but true. With all the scarcity of life and poverty of the population, in the capital of Tajikistan like mushrooms after a rain, elite cottages and mansions grow. Prices in the markets and in stores exceed the real purchasing power of citizens. For example, meat in the markets costs about $ 3 per 1 kg., 1 kg. sugar about 90 cents, 1 l. vegetable oil over $ 1, 1 kg. potatoes - 50 cents, etc. Also high prices for housing. According to a REGNUM report, as of today, prices in the secondary housing market in Dushanbe range from $ 300 to $ 1 thousand per 1 sq. M. meter. In the primary housing market, from $ 1 thousand and above. According to the head of the department of legislation of the State Committee for Construction and Architecture under the government of Rustam Mamurov, high housing prices in Tajikistan are related to the fact that the country does not have a developed system for producing its own building materials, most of which are imported from abroad.

According to the independent economist Bahodur Umarov, the standard of living in Tajikistan today is very differentiated, i.e. there is a very large gap between the rich and the poor. This gap is increasing, capital is increasingly concentrated in a separate group. The overwhelming majority of the population has no real opportunity to increase their condition, covering current expenditures with current income and not leaving funds for savings.

According to experts, the main reason for the current economic situation in Tajikistan is the decline in production, which began in 1989. The downward trend intensified in the early 90s, when material production decreased by 33.7%. The situation worsened in the mid-90s and acquired the character of a catastrophic recession, which is observed to this day. The causes of the crisis are: the cessation of supplies, the breaking of economic ties, the loss of most of the all-Union transfers, the fall in consumer demand due to impoverishment of the population, civil war, natural disasters and many other factors that have affected the general economic, social and spiritual decline.

According to the deputy head of the budget department of the Ministry of Finance, Rano Zabirovoy, the republic’s budget is formed mainly from taxes, grant revenues and interest from remittances of labor migrants from abroad on existing bank transfer systems in Tajikistan. According to her, revenues in 2006 amounted to 1 billion 510 million somoni against the expenditure part of 1 billion 542 million somoni ($ 453.5 million). The state budget deficit is 42 million somoni or 0.5% of GDP.

Given the socio-economic situation in Tajikistan, the existing deficit is clearly not in favor of citizens. There is not enough money to support the social sector, the health system, the payment of wages, pensions, benefits and so on. For example, the minimum wage in Tajikistan is only 20 somoni (about $ 7.5). The minimum pension is similar to the salary. For seven and a half dollars to live is simply not realistic (the cost of products, see above).

Firuz Saidov, head of the department for researching social issues and the labor market at the Center for Strategic Studies of the Republic of Tajikistan (CSR), needs to have at least 205 somoni (about $ 67) per month per person in order to actually live. And this, unfortunately, will not be enough.

With the current salary and impoverishment of Tajiks, food prices are steadily increasing. The price increase, according to Saidov, is primarily due to the fact that there are a lot of intermediaries, and the manufacturer does not have direct access to the market.

According to Umarov, there are many factors that influence consumer price growth, which depend, for example, on the industry’s origin of a product, seasonality factor, etc. “As the main one, in the conditions of Tajikistan, I would single out a decrease in the purchasing power of our national currency, somoni. For example, against the euro, the somoni rate has fallen by as much as 11.4% since the beginning of the year, 10.8% against the ruble, 10.5% against the British pound, etc. (data of the National Bank of the country). How to stabilize the situation? First of all, it is necessary to conduct a real diagnostics of the current state of the economy of Tajikistan. Only after an objective assessment of the state of affairs is given, it will be possible to talk about specific stabilization measures. Among them, very important, in my opinion, the directions will be deep regional economic integration, a revision of the monetary policy of the National Bank, measures to improve the state of affairs in agriculture and industry, ”said the expert.

According to an employee of the department of the development of the Center for Social Research, who wished to remain anonymous, as soon as the salary rises, the prices for food also rise. “Almost all the products consumed by Tajiks are imported, i.e. imported, we do not have our own production. The cost of living must be at least 150 somoni ($ 43) per month, per person. And this amount is calculated only for the purchase of essential products, ”he noted.

In Tajikistan, there is still no law “On the consumer basket”. The consumer basket itself should be calculated on the basis of medical indicators and the average daily rate of human consumption of all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and microelements for vital activity. This compares the current prices. Various international organizations operating in Tajikistan systematically calculate the cost of the consumer basket. But this data is unofficial. According to experts, one person needs to spend at least $ 3 a day.

Low wages in the republic also cause high staff turnover, the transfer of highly qualified personnel from state institutions to the private sector, a high level of labor migration, the inefficient use of specialists (part-time work), and the departure of highly qualified specialists outside the country.
All messages are moderated by the webmaster.
[email protected]
March 16, 2007, Tajikistan, Dushanbe
The standard of living from hydroelectric station will not improve. Profit will be distributed between investors and our officials. While corrupt officials will sit in their posts, alas, no improvements are foreseen. The fish, as they say, rots from the head.
[email protected]
09.08.2006, Tajikistan, Dushanbe
Well done, Rahmon! The problem that you mentioned is very relevant. I hope there will be a resonance from the readers. And officials ... they are officials in Africa, so everything said is like "against the wall of peas".
Dilovarshsho Hafizov
[email protected]
04.08.2006, Tajikistan, Garm
Honestly, everything that was in this article is true, but we Tajiks hope for the best and wait. I think that after the completion of the Rogun hydropower plant construction, the standard of living in Tajikistan will improve!
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