The mayor of Dushanbe and Chairman of the Tajik Parliament's Upper Chamber Mamadsaid Ubaidulloev proposed a strange way to raise funds for construction of Rogun hydropower station – one of the biggest energy projects in Tajikistan. He calculated all salaries of the Dushanbe residents and drew a conclusion that if all of the working people in the city give up half of their wages in May and June, it will constitute about $10 million. The power plant reportedly requires about $1 billion more, but in fact nobody knows the real amount of money necessary for completion of the construction.
The mayor's appeal was a response to the president Rahmon's recent his annual speech in the parliament. He emphasized the importance of Rogun hydropower station as an asset for energy independence of the state. Khurshed quotes [rus] the president:
“Here I take the opportunity to appeal to each citizen of the country who loves his motherland — and especially to professional constructors and engineers — to take active part in construction and contribute to energy independence of the country”.
People hope that it will not turn into “voluntary-compulsory” campaign. However, not surprisingly, all members of the parliament and those who work in the mayor’s office have already gave up their salaries in a contribution to Rogun.
This raises a fair question: How these people are going to live and feed their families in the next month? Corruption is, probably, the answer. The average monthly salary does not exceed $50 – so it is not a big deal to lose one salary but retain a post, which may bring you several times more money. Perahps, the level of corruption is going to spike in the nearest months.
Khorsheed Bakhshayesh thinks that all other governmental agencies will follow this example:
Observers say that Dushanbe has made such an appeal with a view that the past winter [energy] crisis is still fresh in people's memory and could trigger their active participation. Nevertheless, with 60% of the nation living below the poverty line, the government’s optimism may face lack of enthusiasm among masses.
Khorsheed also gives an interesting fact:
It is not the first government’s appeal to the nation for charity. In 1990s many citizens of Tajikistan contributed to the Sangtuda-1 dam construction, but the concrete figures were never revealed. 75 % of the construction is now funded by the Russian monopoly RAO-UES.
Just to remind — the construction of Sangtuda-1 is still not completed. Only one turbine was launched this winter, as others are expected to be launched by the end of this year.
Darvish is ironic about the mayor's initiative and says that it would be better if the officials sacrifice money from their bank accounts rather than beg for $10 mln from the poor people. However he is afraid that the people will not say “no”:
The people of Tajikistan are friendly; they never say “no” if someone asks them for something. Tajikistan is a heaven for beggars. How can they turn this one out of doors?
Also posted on neweurasia.