ASHGABAT, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan hiked gasoline prices by 50 percent on Thursday in another step towards reducing generous welfare subsidies after a drop in export revenues.
The price of the most popular fuel, octane number 95, has risen to 1.5 manats, or $0.42 at the official exchange rate. The black market, however, values the manat at just one third of its official value.
The Turkmen state fuel distribution company, which owns all petrol stations in the gas-rich Central Asian nation, had no immediate comment on the price hike.
It follows a series of other moves to reduce welfare spending, including utility price rises.
Turkmenistan’s export revenues plunged after Russia stopped buying its gas in 2016. Ashgabat’s main customer now is China, which buys about 35-40 billion cubic metres of gas annually.
Money from gas sales had allowed Turkmenistan to provide its 6 million people with basic necessities such as tap water, cooking gas, electric power and fuel almost for free.
At one point, gasoline was cheaper than bottled water at just $0.02. Many ordinary Turkmens used to leave their cars running outside a store when they went shopping.
The desert nation bordering Afghanistan started tightening its belt after it lost the Russian market and global energy prices plunged. Last November, Turkmen households started paying 25 times more for tap water. (Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Catherine Evans)