Turkmens face 25-fold rise in water price as state starts scrapping subsidies

ASHGABAT, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Householders in Turkmenistan will pay 25 times more for tap water from next month as the state begins scrapping generous subsidies that subdued energy prices have left it struggling to afford.

The gas-exporting Central Asian nation’s export revenues dropped after global energy prices plunged in 2014, and again after Russia, once the main buyer of its gas, stopped purchases in 2016.

The price of tap water supplied in excess of a free monthly allotment - 7.5 cubic metres per person - will rise to 5.0 manat ($1.43) per 10 cubic metres from 0.2 manat ($0.06) from Nov. 1, a decree from President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov stated on Wednesday.

He said on Monday his cabinet would phase out subsidies gradually, indicating there would be more price hikes.

Citizens of the former Soviet republic still get some cooking gas and power for free, and obtain what they do pay for at subsidised prices.

Savings from the phase-out would help finance a $69 billion, seven-year investment programme of which $45 billion is destined for the energy sector, the president said.

The desert nation of 5.5 million bordering Afghanistan sits on the world’s fourth-biggest natural gas reserves.

Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by John Stonestreet