Kyrgyz Parliamentarians to Give up Perks

Many members of the Kyrgyz parliament elected in October promised voters that if elected, they would voluntarily renounce benefits like free housing and official cars. Now they are discussing how they will deliver on that promise.

Cars with drivers are an obvious area for cuts, given that they cost around 200 US dollars a month in fuel alone, twice the minimum consumer spend calculated in this impoverished Central Asian state.

Some deputies are proposing partial cuts where each parliamentary party would be assigned a couple of cars, and new members from far-away regions would get free housing.

The money saved would go a little way to reducing the massive budget deficit, which was already high because of the effects of global economic crisis and has got even worse in recent months because of the costs needed to rebuild southern Kyrgyzstan after wide-scale violence in June.

The second report in this radio package covers protests in Karabalta, where many residents fear a new oil refinery will cause pollution, despite assurances from the plant’s managers that the modern design is almost smoke-free.

Local government officials point out that the refinery will bring more money to the area and create 500 new jobs, 80 per cent of which have to be recruited locally.

The audio programme, in Russian and Kyrgyz, went out on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.