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Kazakh Currency's Fall Hurting Migrant Workers

An exchange office in Petropavlovsk

An exchange office in Petropavlovsk

ALMATY -- A 20 percent devaluation of the Kazakh currency, the tenge, is affecting Central Asian labor migrants in the country.

Kazakh economist Kanat Berintaev tells RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that the sharp devaluation will cause a mass exodus of migrant workers from the country.

One 22-year-old waiter from Uzbekistan, who works in an Almaty restaurant, says that he will not be able to send money this month to his mother in Tashkent because of the tenge's drop in value.

A 30-year-old migrant worker from Tajikistan says he was not able to send dollars back to his family in Dushanbe because of the higher cost of the dollar.

The tenge was kept between 120 and 121 to the dollar last year, but on February 4 its rate on the Kazakh stock exchange was 144 to the dollar.

The chairman of the National Bank says he hopes the government can keep the rate at around 150 tenges to the dollar.