Vendors of officially closed markets in Ashgabat and Dashoguz report on extortion by market administrations and police

Since 1 March, 2021 not only grocery stores but footwear, electronics, cosmetics and other shops located in Ashgabat shopping centre “Berkarar” resumed their operations.

Bazaars and other non-food stores in the capital are still officially closed but, according to correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”, are operating without any restrictions.

Furthermore, Turkmenistan’s Tax Authority asks the vendors to pay taxes for the past months despite the fact that shops were supposed to be closed since July, bazaars since November last year, in connection with COVID-19 prevention measures.

2% of the revenue needs to be paid. The amount is calculated based on the average monthly revenue of a retail outlet before it was closed for quarantine.

Vendors also have to pay a bribe to police officers to ensure that they are not prevented from engaging in trade.

Illegal trade is ongoing in “Altyn Asyr” market.Vendors working in E-2 section, which is frequented by customers, pay a daily fee of 100 manats ($2,86 using the current “black market rate”), whereas those working in A and B sections – 50 manats.

In case of a refusal to pay a bribe police officers might fine a vendor 500 manats.

The annual rental fee for a stall of 12 square meters is 3000 manats ($86) per meter. A sole proprietorship annual patent fee of 240 manats ($7) also needs to be paid.

Small vendors who do not rent a stall but place their merchandise on the ground pay a fee of 200 manats ($5,7) a day.

Vendors agree to pay because there are almost no other jobs, even in Ashgabat. Besides, when a market is re-opened officially, they will have to pay a larger bribe for renting space.

In Dashoguz the main market called Dunya bazaar (formerly Bai Bazaar) remains closed but vendors are selling their merchandise even outside it.

Despite the fact that vendors are outside the market, its executives request a payment of 280 manats ($8) a month for a trade permit.

Those vendors who do not rent stalls on the territory of the bazaar are obliged to pay a daily fee of 50 to 60 manats ($1,4-1,7) to police officers and 10 manats ($0,3) for the market administrator.

According to vendors, they have filed a complaint to report on bribe extortion by police and the market executives, but the public prosecutor’s office refused to accept it, advising them to “wait until the official opening of the market” and pointed out that vendors themselves are also violating the law.

Vendors also informed a correspondent of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” that only three people close relatives of the market executives are allowed to sell Kazakh flour in the market.

Medications and foreign currency were illegally sold on the outskirts of the market. Police officers permitted foreign currency speculators to remain, but vendors selling medications were moved further away.

Before the bazaar was closed, vendors had to chip in to pay for cleaning of the area and repair works despite the fact that these expenditures should be included in rental fees.The post Vendors of officially closed markets in Ashgabat and Dashoguz report on extortion by market administrations and police first appeared on Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

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