Monthly incomes in Kyrgyzstan are low

The average worker earns US$140 a month in Kyrgyzstan. The capital of Bishkek boasts the highest wages, whereas the southern cities of Osh and Batken have on average the lowest incomes.

Tair Shamshiyev

2009-11-24

KYRGYZSTAN — On Nov. 17, the National Statistics Committee of Kyrgyzstan released figures showing that the average wage in the country was US$140 per month. Residents of Bishkek were the top earners in the country, with an average monthly income that exceeded $200. The lowest wages in the country were in the south, in Osh and Batken, where the average monthly income was only $75.

These figures showed a year-on-year increase of 17 percent, higher than the seven percent increase projected at the beginning of 2009 by the National Bank. Official statistics show wage increases only for schoolteachers, mid-level bureaucrats, healthcare workers and labourers in the construction industry.

The country's highest incomes are in the financial sector, where workers earn an average of $450 per month. The transportation and communication sectors are in second place with $240, followed by the energy sector, with wages averaging $176 per month. Retail workers and mid-level civil servants earn a monthly average of $150. Agricultural workers and teachers make the least, with incomes between $62 and $80 a month.

To increase the low wages of teachers and doctors, Parliament member Irina Karamushkina suggested that parliamentary salaries, currently between $400 and $800 a month, be tied directly to the average wage for these two low-earning professions. Needless to say, no other deputies have yet stepped forward to endorse her proposal.

A wage of $140 will cover the cost of two pairs of good shoes, four sacks of flour, a mobile phone and five pairs of Indonesian-made jeans. Following recent increases in the price of electricity and heating, however that amount barely covers the utilities of a one-room apartment.

"$140 simply isn't enough for our family of four. We have two small children, and one package of diapers alone is more than $25. Every month we have to forgo some necessity because goods and food are getting more expensive. Of course our wages haven't gone up at all," lamented Dzhalal-Abada Dilrabo Murzayeva, a Kyrgyz worker.

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