ARTICLE OF THE ISSUE
The Council of Elders of Turkmenistan held a regular meeting at the newly built "Nowruz alasyny Ak i" (White Yurt of Nowruz Valley) near Ashgabat in Akhal province. The meeting was chaired by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
The national forum discussed the priority issues related to the further development of the country and implementation of the socio-economic and democratic reforms.
The meeting was attended by the delegations of elders from all the regions, members of the government, the Mejlis, heads of the ministries and branch-wise departments, military and law enforcement agencies, political parties, public associations, heads of regional administrations, cities and districts, representatives of various sectors of the national economy, as well as Turkmenistan's Ambassadors abroad and heads of the diplomatic missions accredited in Ashgabat.
The Chairman of the Council, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, delivered a keynote address at the Council of Elders.
The head of state presented a draft "Program of the President of Turkmenistan on Socio-Economic Development of the Country for 2018-2024" for adoption by the Council of Elders.
President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov described the global economic factors that necessitate adjustments to the goals and objectives for the upcoming period. He noted that some economic and political developments that have taken place in the world in recent years have had to some extent a negative impact on Turkmenistan's economic growth.
According to the head of state, in the first place it is the global economy that has slowed down because of the geopolitical situation, landslide of prices on hydrocarbon resources at the world markets, unstable development of the economies of Turkmenistan's key trade and economic partners, foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, instability at the equity and stock markets.
The Turkmen leader stressed that a new task was set up on this basis that requires fuller utilization of all resources and opportunities to ensure stable growth of the national economy, accelerated transition to the market relations and rapid development of the private sector of the national economy in particular.
Presenting the "Program of the President of Turkmenistan on Socio-Economic Development of the Country for 2018-2024", the head of state noted that it sets the objectives of the country's social and economic development for the following seven years and outlines the forthcoming tasks, basic principles, priority areas and results.
The Program also provides for measures on implementation of these objectives, including enhancing the performance of economic institutions, and tasks on improving the system of government regulation and ways of its modernization.
It is also planned that all relevant steps will be taken to improve macroeconomic management against the background of the global financial and economic crisis, achieve a balance of these indicators and continue reforming the financial and banking sector.
According to the Program, it is expected that over the following seven years the country's GDP will grow at a high rate (6.2-8.2 percent). In this period, the share of industry in the national economy will make up an average of 33 percent, construction - 14 percent, agriculture - 10.9 percent. This indicator will amount to 9.1 percent for the transport and communications sectors, 12 percent for trade and 21 percent for various services. The work on defining and implementing the national priorities, supporting scientific and technical initiatives to ensure an industrialized economy will continue.
"The implementation of this work will create conditions to significantly increase the export potential and build facilities in all regions of the country to produce import-substituting products," President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that after gaining independence the population of the country was provided with natural gas, drinking water, electricity and common salt free of charge. The main goal of these unprecedented benefits in those years was to create favorable conditions amid the difficult economic situation in the world and help citizens of the country to adapt to the market economy.
At the same time, the income of the population of Turkmenistan is currently increasing year by year, and a large number of jobs have been created. In this regard, the Turkmen leader supported the Council of Elders' proposal on the gradual introduction of payments for provision of public services to ensure a more efficient and economical use of natural resources.
According to the head of state, the integration of the country's economy into the system of market relations requires the economical and efficient use of national wealth, and the systematic increase in the population's income now makes it possible to impose certain charges on social benefits that have been provided for free until now.
Speaking at the Council of Elders, the President of Turkmenistan also stressed that since 2008 this Council played an important role in the life of the country, and people regularly made proposals to change the legal status of the Council of Elders in order to improve its activities and expand its functions.
In this regard, with the view of enhancing the role of the Council of Elders in the life of society, the head of state announced a decision on transformation of the Council of Elders and renaming it to the People's Council. According to the head of state, it will allow people from all strata of the society to become its member and ensure greater involvement of citizens in the political life of the country.
A proposal was put forward at the meeting, on behalf of the elders of the country to confer for the second time the highest state award - the title of Hero of Turkmenistan - on President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his outstanding services and activities on increasing Turkmenistan's reputation in the world.
As the delegates of the national forum noted, the head of state works to ensure a wealthy and happy life for the citizens of the country, and thanks to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov Turkmenistan is known in the world as a strong and prosperous state maintaining the high level of development.
The discussion of the proposals put forward and adoption of important documents was continued on the second day of the meeting of the Council of Elders. Based on the outcomes of the two-day meeting of the Council of Elders, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a number of legislative acts for the successful implementation of political and socio-economic reforms.
The head of state signed the Constitutional Laws of Turkmenistan "On Amendments to the Constitution of Turkmenistan", "On Halk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan", "On Changes to the Constitutional Law of Turkmenistan On Independence and Foundations of the State Structure of Turkmenistan'" that were drafted as part of the constitutional reform.
Other documents passed at the meeting included the Laws of Turkmenistan "On Free Economic Zones", "On Changes to the Labor Code of Turkmenistan", "On Changes to the Land Code of Turkmenistan", "On Amendments to the Tax Code of Turkmenistan", "On Changes to the Law of Turkmenistan On Migration'".
Complementing the existing legal framework, these documents aim to promote Turkmenistan's progression along the path of socio-economic and democratic reforms.
The head of state signed the Decree "On Approving the Program of the President of Turkmenistan on Socio-Economic Development of the Country for 2018-2024" to the applause of the delegates of the Council of Elders.
The President of Turkmenistan noted that since the first years of independence the population has been provided with natural gas, water, electricity and common salt free of charge, while charges for public services have been very small. The government allocates significant funds to cover these expenditures.
In this connection, the President of Turkmenistan announced that the Cabinet of Ministers has come up with a draft document, taking into account the proposals made by the elders for several years. This document regulates the tariffs on natural gas, electricity, housing and communal, motor transport and communication services consumed in excess of the free of charge limits.
Following the unanimous vote of approval of this document by the members of the Council of Elders, the head of state signed the Resolution "On Adjustment of Tariffs on Natural Gas, Electricity, Housing and Communal, Motor Transport and Communication Services for all Consumers."
Then, the floor was given to Akdzha Nurberdyeva, Speaker of the Mejlis (parliament) of Turkmenistan.
Informing the Council of Elders of the decision by the Mejlis of Turkmenistan on conferring the title of Hero of Turkmenistan on President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the Speaker of the national parliament read out the Resolution of the Mejlis. According to the Speaker, the Turkmen leader has been awarded this title for his enormous personal contribution to improving the foundations of the democratic, legal and secular state, strengthening sovereignty, constitutional order, and the status of Turkmenistan's permanent neutrality.
The head of state was presented with the highest state decoration - the gold medal "Altyn A"" (Golden Moon) to the continuous applause of the delegates of the national forum.
Thanking everyone for the great honor, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wished the delegates of the Council of Elders good health, success and prosperity.
The head of state expressed gratitude for awarding him the highest state decoration - the title of Hero of Turkmenistan with the gold medal "Altyn A." "I consider serving the people the supreme goal of my life and my work!" the President said.
The meeting of the Council of Elders of Turkmenistan concluded with a big festive concert of masters of culture and arts of the country.