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Turkmenistan Imposes Non-Cash Pension System

Tuesday 19 June 2018

ASHGABAT (Chronicles of Turkmenistan) — Turkmenistan has introduced a non-cash system of payment pensions to retirees, as the country experiences an economic downturn and a deficit of foreign currency largely due to decreasing revenues from natural gas export.

Last May, Turkmenistan’s retirees were informed without prior notice that starting from June 2018 onward their pensions will no longer be handed out in cash in bank offices as before but will be transferred to a bank card for which a bank account needs to be opened. Since it is impossible to change the payment system for all the retirees it was announced that from June onward pensions will be paid to bank cards of residents under 65 years old. Later non-cash pension payments will be introduced for the remaining senior citizens.

The retirees were instructed to submit copies of their passport and pay a fee of 20 manats for bankcards.

The non-cash system was launched on 1 June with major failures. Correspondents of Chronicles of Turkmenistan report that few retirees managed to have the bank cards issued on time to get their pensions transferred for the previous month. Those whose pensions were not transferred on time received vouchers, which will be used to get pensions in cash.

It came as an unpleasant surprise for cardholders that during a pension transfer to bank cards and cash withdrawals from ATMs, a commission is retained for bank services. A commission of a little over 1% applies for cash withdrawals.

Queues are being formed in front of ATMs as even in Ashgabat not all stores are equipped with PDQ machines. The overwhelming majority of local residents do their grocery shopping at the markets where no terminals are available and only cash payments are accepted.

The situation in the provinces is more complicated as the ATMs, limited in number, are installed only in major cities and quickly run out of banknotes. Rural inhabitants have no choice but to head to cities in search of ATMs.

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