World Bulletin / News Desk
The Turkmen government is to stop supplying free fuel to motorists in the country.
The decision was signed on Tuesday by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
Energy-rich Turkmenistan has supplied 120 liters of fuel a month to vehicle owners, free of charge, since 2008.
The move was designed at the time to cushion the gradual increase of the price for the fuel to 22 U.S. cents per litre from just 2 cents set under Berdymukhamedov's flamboyant predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December 2006.
At US$0.22 per liter, the country's motorists enjoy one of the lowest fuel prices in the world. The price is around $US2.4 a liter in Turkey.
A certain amount of natural gas, electricity and water are also provided to Turkmen citizens free of charge.
The presidential decree published by state media on Tuesday said the abolition of free petrol handouts aimed "to help sustain the growth of the national economy, achieve the efficient use of oil products and ensure their orderly converting to cash on the domestic market".
The country annually produces about 10 million tonnes of crude oil and processes most of it at local refineries.
Turkmenistan, which is viewed by human rights bodies as one of the most reclusive and repressive nations, boasts the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas and is Central Asia's largest producer and exporter of the fuel.
While abolishing free quotas for petrol, Berdymukhamedov made no mention of natural gas, water and electricity consumed by the local population free of charge in huge volumes since Niyazov's rule, which was officially called "The Golden Age".
Critics say the much-publicised handouts of energy and water to the population simply supplement low wages in the country which seldom rise above $300 a month.
Turkmenistan's gross domestic product expanded by 10.2 percent last year, mainly on the back of rising natural gas exports to China. The International Monetary Fund forecasts GDP to increase by 10.7 percent this year.Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2014, 14:44