Pages

Thursday, August 25, 2016

[XAM to drill OU; MNT up for 4th day; tax hikes and budget cuts submitted; and SGK special session starts today]

Please click Display Images or Download Pictures to properly view this newswire

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Follow Cover Mongolia on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and Blogspot

Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics, Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health, Education - Culture, Society - Nature, Environment - Sports - Art, Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Int'l Market

XAM closed flat Wednesday at A$0.019, +73% YTD

Xanadu Mines to drill out potential low cost gold mine

August 23 (Proactive Investors) Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX:XAM) has commenced a ramped-up second phase of exploration including 3,000 metres of drilling at its 90% owned Oyut Ulaan copper-gold project located in Mongolia. 

Recent diamond drilling confirmed high-grade oxide gold mineralisation extends to depths of at least 25 metres with grades measuring up to 47.2 g/t gold.

Original trenching discovered bonanza grade assays of up to 589.96 g/t gold.

The new drilling will test both strike and vertical extensions of the high-grade epithermal gold mineralisation within a large prospective area that is 4.5 kilometres long and 300 metres wide.

Dr Andrew Stewart, CEO, commented: "This comprehensive program will go a long way to characterising the discovery and allow assessment of the potential for a simple, low-cost mining operation at Oyut Ulaan which could generate meaningful cash flow."

Oyut Ulaan gold project

The 90% owned Oyut Ulaan project is located within the South Gobi Copper Belt, which hosts the world class Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project.

Exploration has now discovered at least four zones of gold mineralisation within a prospective area - Stockwork, Bavuu, Diorite and Hulan.

The ongoing exploration at Oyut Ulaan represents an opportunity for Xanadu to define a shallow gold resource capable of being economically mined.

District exploration strategy

In addition to the drill program, the company intends to complete the following exploration work at Oyut Ulaan in 2016:   

- Detailed geologic mapping; 
- Detailed metallurgical test work and mineralogical studies to better understand gold mineralisation and alteration and the characteristics of, and controls on, mineralisation;
- Infill geochemical surveys over specific target areas and expand surveys over the entire licence;
- Additional infill magnetic geophysical surveys; 
- Additional trenching to test continuity and extent of mineralisation at surface; and
- Various technical studies in support of preliminary economic evaluation including hydrology and environmental base line studies.  

Diamond drilling details

The most recent drill program of 19 shallow diamond holes tested four areas of gold mineralisation identified by trenching. 

Highlights from the diamond drilling include:

- 6.0 metres at 21.57 g/t gold from surface;  
- 6.3 metres at 6.67 g/t gold from 15 metres depth; 
- 9.5 metres at 21.06 g/t gold from surface, including 3 metres at 47 g/t gold; and 
- 6 metres at 15.43 g/t gold from surface.

Analysis

The fast-tracked second phase of exploration at Oyut Ulaan represents an opportunity for Xanadu to get closer to defining a shallow gold resource capable of being economically mined.

Previous trenching and drilling has already confirmed the presence of multiple zones of high grade gold mineralisation.

With multiple near surface gold targets and exploration in motion, Xanadu remains leveraged to exploration success.

The share price is up 70% year to date, currently trading at $0.19 per share.

Xanadu maintains support from an Australia-wide broker who has a Speculative Buy recommendation and price target of $0.51 per share.

The district exploration that will be running alongside the drilling campaign will provide Xanadu with opportunity for news flow outside of the expected drill assays.

Link to article

Link to XAM release

 

TRQ closed -0.33% Wednesday to US$3.06, -12.3% in last 1 month

Mongolia Investors See Green Shoots and Gold as Rio Tinto Digs Down

By Gavin Serkin

August 24 (Frontera News) Mongolians are used to extremes. In a country where temperatures reach 40 centigrade either side of zero, economic lurches are no less extraordinary.

This millennium, a nation of little over 3 million people can lay claim to the world's best performing stock market and unrivaled bouts of GDP growth. Yet now, the newly elected government is warning of an economic crisis caused by years of overspending and borrowing by during the boom times.

I asked three Mongolia experts for their assessment of the economic climate.

Lee Cashell has lived in Ulaanbaatar for over 15 years with his Mongolian wife, Tsegy. They founded Asia Pacific Investment Partners, the country's largest real estate firm

Perspective: We're currently in an era that's reminiscent of the 2009 global financial crisis. This was when the IMF came in and bailed out Mongolia and another 20 countries around the world. But out of all of those countries, Mongolia was the first one to emerge again when foreign direct investment started picking up, led by phase one of the Oyu Tolgoi mining project.

Property market: It has been very tough in the last 18 months; we've seen prices come down significantly; we've seen liquidity in the market dry up quite a bit. But we're also seeing a lot of green shoots at the moment, firstly because tenders have been awarded from the Oyu Tolgoi Phase II project. There are a lot of expatriates moving into the country now, and so the rental market is stronger than it's been in about two years.

The office market also suffered in recent years, but now a lot of companies are opening up, and actually, even more so, embassies are expanding their operations here, and that's actually taking up quite a bit of the office space.

Sales tactics: When you've spent a winter in a yurt at minus 40 degrees Celsius, then you'll understand, it's not that difficult to sell an apartment in Mongolia.

Cement: Over the last three years, because of an initiative by the government, there has been a lot of import substitution. Mongolian companies are displacing Chinese cement from coming into the country.

Economic outlook: There's a lot going on in commodities for Mongolia; it's a thriving democracy; it has low taxes; the laws are very well laid out here. Ultimately, growth is going to return to Mongolia, and I think probably it should be up at around the 10% rate for the foreseeable future after next year. We're very excited about the future.

Layton Croft has also spent over 15 years living and working in Mongolia as a mining expert and consultant to companies including Rio Tinto, Ivanhoe Mines, Peabody Energy and Erdene Resource Development

Perspective: It's important to step back and understand that Rio Tinto and the Oyu Tolgoi mine have been in Mongolia for quite some time. The first phase of the mine, which is an open pit mine, has been in production for several years now, and so there's a good runway for further growth.

Phase II is the new investment of $5.3 billion by Rio Tinto to develop the underground mine. From a geological perspective, this is frankly where the majority of the value is in the business, and it's so large that it will most likely be in operation for many decades to come. This is going to really encourage investment back into the exploration sector of Mongolia, which has dipped in recent years.

Government: This is a new government. They are trying to project serious urgency. It's a little too early to make any predictions, but I do think that the bond market reaction to some of the recent announcements by the government is comforting, because I don't think that this is going to run off the rails.

Gold mining: Gold is more important than ever to Mongolia's economic horizon. In the past, there has been gold production but on a rather small scale. I'm familiar with some discoveries recently by several publicly traded companies and they seem to be quite promising. Gold could really be Mongolia's new bright commodity.

The Tolgoi's: Most people focus on the big mine, Oyu Tolgoi. But Tavan Tolgoi, a metallurgical coal deposit, is one of the largest high-quality coal deposits in the world. There's a lot of Mongolian territory that still hasn't been explored, and we know enough about the geology across the country, particularly in certain regions in the South and in the West, that are unexplored and highly mineral rich.

Now there's going to be renewed interest in exploration for Mongolia, and I think that bodes well for everyone.

Renata Legierska has visited Mongolia several times conducting business intelligence analysis as a Senior Associate for Alaco Limited.

Perspective: The new government is still very much in the formative stage, so it's a little bit too early to judge how effective it will become further down the line, but I think there are a couple of quite positive elements. First of all, they've got a very big majority in the parliament. The MPP currently controls 65 of 76 seats, so what that means is that they will be able to implement measures quite quickly and effectively, as opposed to the previous stalemate around various policies.

The government will need to implement serious measures over the next two or three years, while at the same time laying the foundations for steady and long-term economic growth, and that will be difficult, no doubt. But I think what is reassuring, at least from the language that we've heard recently from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance is that they recognize what needs to be done and that the economy is the No. 1 priority for the government.

Potential: Undoubtedly, Mongolia is a very, very rich country in terms of resources, in terms of potential, and lots of it is still untapped. While the next few years will be difficult in terms of the decisions that the government will have to make, now is a really important time to be looking at Mongolia. The next few months will be quite pivotal.

Listen to the full radio interview here.

Link to article

Back to top

Local Market

Mogi: www.mse.mn is still down for Univision

 

Back to top

Economy

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, August 24 Close

8/24

8/23

8/22

8/19

8/18

8/17

8/17

8/16

8/15

8/12

8/11

8/10

8/9

8/8

8/5

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/611b76b6-2b0b-4a23-a444-02f9cb3dd75f.png

USD

2,254.97

2,257.87

2,260.05

2,263.70

2,265.28

2,251.99

2,251.99

2,237.32

2,187.38

2,169.44

2,152.07

2,141.59

2,131.81

2,122.65

2,111.27

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d90344bf-7731-47f3-bffe-93a4596232a2.png

EUR

2,546.76

2,558.96

2,550.01

2,568.17

2,563.39

2,535.74

2,535.74

2,515.20

2,442.87

2,417.19

2,403.00

2,385.62

2,360.77

2,352.32

2,352.17

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/db4fa868-a5a2-4a14-9cd9-ef3b0081caa7.png

JPY

22.48

22.56

22.43

22.62

22.68

22.32

22.32

22.31

21.62

21.26

21.24

21.11

20.82

20.77

20.89

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/663d9297-6b7b-421b-a2c7-022882ec5691.png

GBP

2,969.34

2,971.92

2,949.82

2,977.56

2,957.78

2,933.55

2,933.55

2,885.47

2,829.16

2,811.59

2,800.49

2,790.17

2,765.38

2,770.27

2,771.78

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/a772b2ab-9007-499a-9c78-69d8ac652d26.png

RUB

34.69

34.82

35.20

35.50

35.57

35.20

35.20

34.93

33.90

33.75

33.04

32.99

32.86

32.44

32.00

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ceaa3227-2aea-4575-9f0f-9374539b6e52.png

CNY

338.90

339.88

339.32

340.88

341.81

339.61

339.61

337.31

329.22

326.60

324.06

322.18

320.01

318.63

317.70

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9366ea6f-cdc8-4c79-87a2-c6de37f4f2db.png

KRW

2.01

2.02

2.01

2.03

2.05

2.03

2.03

2.05

1.99

1.97

1.96

1.95

1.93

1.91

1.90

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/020a3b13-d459-4bf3-b596-f93ff6442059.png

SGD

1,666.52

1,673.92

1,671.14

1,684.55

1,689.56

1,675.53

1,675.53

1,669.64

1,627.64

1,611.77

1,602.14

1,595.82

1,580.52

1,575.02

1,573.64

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,742.90

1,749.00

1,748.25

1,769.07

1,767.68

1,749.12

1,749.12

1,733.68

1,689.23

1,672.53

1,648.09

1,637.74

1,616.60

1,610.63

1,620.56

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ec21d929-99bc-4825-8f98-d8f66d0a4814.png

AUD

1,713.21

1,725.58

1,716.17

1,731.16

1,746.53

1,727.39

1,727.39

1,725.31

1,678.05

1,667.76

1,659.57

1,647.42

1,627.32

1,614.91

1,615.02

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ce22f7ae-6e61-4961-b249-a66ee1a47c1a.png

HKD

290.82

291.19

291.50

291.96

292.13

290.40

290.40

288.46

282.01

279.70

277.47

276.13

274.83

273.69

272.24

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9775661f-ece0-420b-843d-58b1b4b23546.png

CHF

2,338.94

2,350.60

2,345.42

2,369.87

2,359.91

2,337.30

2,337.30

2,311.40

2,243.70

2,226.67

2,207.93

2,185.52

2,169.01

2,164.86

2,168.96

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,250 Sell ₮2,270), TDB (Buy ₮2,250 Sell ₮2,270), Golomt (Buy ₮2,250 Sell ₮2,270), XacBank (Buy ₮2,238 Sell ₮2,262), State Bank (Buy ₮2,250 Sell ₮2,270)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

BoM issues ₮142 billion 1-week bills at 15%, total outstanding -40.4% to ₮321.7 billion

August 24 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 142 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

BoM issues ₮80 billion 12-week bills at 17%, total outstanding +40% to ₮280 billion

August 24 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 12 week bills worth MNT 80 billion at a weighted interest rate of 17 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

Mongolians scrabble for dollars after local currency's plunge

By Terrence Edwards | ULAANBAATAR

August 23 (Reuters) Making money amid Mongolia's deepening economic crisis, currency dealers thronging the black markets of Ulaanbaatar wave wads of American dollars and Chinese yuan, warning desperate customers that foreign banknotes are becoming scarcer by the day.

The Naiman Sharga market, close to the Mongolian capital's cluttered and impoverished "ger" or tent districts, has become a daily destination for residents panicked by a precipitous decline in the currency, the tugrik.

"Now I can't find any more dollars," said Ganbold, a currency trader, sporting a white, brimmed hat and galloping-horse belt buckle.

Ganbold has traded currency since the fall of communism in 1990 and up until now he's been able to rely on the network of traders whenever he needed more cash.

But if a shipment of dollars doesn't arrive from overseas as he hopes, Ganbold will have to close shop until more arrives.

Mongolia's government, elected in a landslide at the end of June, has been plunged into turmoil after years of collapsing foreign investment, unsustainable fiscal expansion and a decline in demand for commodities like coal and copper.

Last week, the central bank hiked interest rates by 450 basis points to a record 15 percent, stabilizing a currency whose 9 percent fall against the dollar from the start of August made it the world's worst performer. MNT=

Dollar supplies have dwindled, and commercial banks were severely restricting currency transactions, with one bank refusing to convert any dollars, Ganbold told Reuters as frustrated buyers milled around him.

Finance Minister Battogtokh Choijilsuren said earlier this month that the central bank's foreign exchange reserves stood at $1.3 billion. But, he added that after stripping out a 15 billion yuan currency swap agreement with China, reserves would show a deficit of $46 million.

An International Monetary Fund team was in town last week to meet members of Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat's new government, but some analysts suspect Mongolia might turn to China for another swap agreement rather resort to the IMF.

"There is a good chance China asserts its regional influence and offers Mongolia a bigger and better deal than the IMF in a bailout," Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer of brokerage BDSec in Ulaanbaatar, commented.

"Mongolia is highly strategic for China, given Mongolia's vast natural resources and potential as an economic corridor with Russia."

ANXIOUS TIMES

The government, which promised to cut debt and lure back foreign investors, has introduced austerity measures like cutting senior employees' salaries and cancelling monthly student allowances.

Economic growth slowed to 1.4 percent in the first six months of 2016, down from an all-time high of 17.3 percent in the mining-driven boom of 2011.

Anxiety over the tugrik has driven many people to switch their savings into dollars, and the black market is cheaper than the official rate, with commercial banks restricting the amount that can be converted per day.

Nearly half of Mongolia's three million population live in Ulaanbaatar, and these are desperate times for those aspiring families sending their sons and daughters for a university education overseas.

"My son is going to America for university tomorrow, but dollars are expensive and it's hard for us," a woman, who gave her name as Enkhmaa, said as she, and many other parents, hunted for the best rate among Naiman Sharga's dealers.

On Tuesday morning, traders were offering around 2,247 to 2,250 tugrik per dollar, which was still better than the official rate of 2,260 tugrik and the all-time low of 2,265.28 that was hit last Thursday.

Bank of Mongolia Governor Nadmid Bayartsaikhan told local media on Friday that he expected a tough two years, renegotiating terms on foreign debt which had totaled $23.5 billion in the first quarter of this year.

In a transcript published on the bank's official website, he called the appreciation of the dollar "artificial", and said it would eventually reverse course.

"That's why I would like to tell people not to be tricked by today's dollar exchange rate," he said. "Don't panic."

Link to article

 

Mongolia budget deficit much bigger than thought, new finance minister says

By Terrence Edwards | ULAANBAATAR

Aug 24 (Reuters) Mongolia's budget deficit stands at 20.6 percent of gross domestic product, far higher than previously estimated despite a series of austerity measures designed to plug the country's finances, the finance minister said.

A new government elected in June is facing an economic crisis, reflected by a precipitous drop in the tugrik currency, as it attempts to reverse four years of slow growth and dropping foreign investment that it says the previous administration tried to manage with out-of-control spending and borrowing.

With foreign exchange reserves dwindling to low levels, members of Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat's government met visiting International Monetary Fund officials last week.

Mongolia's new finance minister, Battogtokh Choijilsuren, said off-budget accounts had pushed the cash-strapped country's budget deficit well above the 4 percent limit set by law. Previously, the government had estimated the deficit to be 3.4 percent of GDP.

Choijilsuren told parliament on Tuesday the deficit now stood at 20.6 percent of GDP, and submitted an amended budget for 2016 that would trim it to 18.2 percent.

The new budget took into account social welfare programs put into place by the previous administration and other off-the-books spending. It also included more tepid projections for government revenue as the country's coal and copper exports reap smaller profits with prices of commodities sagging and slower growth in China, the main consumer of those goods.

"The expected revenue performance for Mongolia is less than planned," a report on the Mongolian parliament website quoted Choijilsuren as saying.

Dale Choi, an analyst with Mongolian Metals and Mining, wrote in an emailed note that Mongolia would likely amend the law that caps the deficit at 4 percent of GDP.

The last government, in office from 2012 to 2016, made lavish promises of affordable homes and new infrastructure on the back of 2010-2012 mining boom. Controversial legislation and disputes with investors such as Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd over the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine kept those dreams out of reach, however.

Rio Tinto last May went ahead with the construction of a $5.6 billion expansion after resolving the dispute over taxes and costs, but revenue has suffered in 2016 from lower-quality ore dug out of the open-pit mine.

Fitch Ratings on Tuesday said public finances continued to pose a challenge while the tugrik plunged 20 percent from the end of June. Standard & Poor's on August 19 downgraded Mongolia by one notch to 'B-'.

Meanwhile, Mongolia may face harsh cutbacks in government spending. The Human Development Fund, which has distributed cash widely to Mongolians since 2009, may receive less government money since funding is tied to copper revenue, said Choi.

"I think it's a luxury the state cannot afford. Now going forward, I think it's important to target the transfer to people who really need it," Choi said. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia's Meltdown Won't Be Saved by a Mining Revival Yet

By Michael Kohn

·         Government needs to upgrade laws, woo back skeptical investors

·         Oyu Tolgoi mine restart hasn't yet delivered an economic jolt

August 24 (Bloomberg) The commodity super-cycle that peaked in 2011 powered Mongolia to world-beating growth. Then came the bust and China's recent economic slowdown that's pushed the land of Genghis Khan into an unprecedented economic crisis this summer.

Yet even though the commodity market finally has a pulse again after a five-year collapse, a modest revival in prices isn't going to be enough to rescue Mongolia's mineral-rich, $12 billion economy.

What worked for Mongolia in 2011 isn't working now. The nation, once dubbed Minegolia for sitting on what the International Monetary Fund has estimated is $1 trillion to $3 trillion in mineral wealth, has seen its attractiveness as an investment destination wane as global miners rein in spending. 

On top of that, disputes with foreign investors such as Rio Tinto Group over the development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposits continue to weigh on its reputation. And the seemingly unique advantage of sitting on the doorstep of the world's biggest buyer of commodities, China, is now looking more like a liability given the marked slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy.

While there's no quick fix to Mongolia's recent travails -- it has burned through much of its foreign currency reserves and the government has a crushing debt burden -- the country can mend things by improving the laws, regulations and bureaucracy that prevent it from being globally competitive, according to an industry analyst and former chief of Oyu Tolgoi LLC.

To read more on why Mongolia's economy is in trouble, click here

"The government doesn't have money to throw around or to subsidize its industries, so the only thing it can do is to make sure its policies and its administration are absolutely fine-tuned to the world's best practice,'' Cameron McRae, executive chairman of Tarva Investment & Advisory, said by phone.

Mongolia earlier this month declared an economic crisis after leaders in Ulaanbaatar took to national TV to outline the country's deteriorating debt position, cash reserves and budget deficit. Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga has since announced an austerity program, which includes government pay cuts and spending halts on projects.

To woo back investors, Erdenebat signaled he would establish a council to promote foreign investment. The details of how the council will operate have not been announced.

Mongolia faces a balance of payments crisis, thanks to overspending by the previous government just as foreign investment inflows dried up, leading to a 2 trillion tugrik ($885 million) budget deficit through the first seven months. Gross domestic product grew 1.4 percent in the first half of the year, a far cry from the double-digit growth Mongolia experienced earlier this decade.

The restart of the second phase of the giant Oyu Tolgoi project, signed in Dubai in May 2015, was expected to ease the cash crunch. However, the net effect of the copper and gold mine has yet to be felt across the country.

"The government was saying that everything is OK, and everything will improve in a matter of months once the Dubai agreement will come into force, but now it's become clear that it's not so easy and it's not going to improve drastically in just a few months,'' Khashchuluun Chuluundorj, an economist for the National University of Mongolia, said by phone.

The FDI drought extends beyond Mongolia, said Sam Spring, chief executive of Kincora Copper Ltd., which does business in the country. "The global commodity sector largely remains capital constrained and it will take time for potential improving sentiment to flow through the sector and into the more earlier stage projects,'' Spring said.

Oyu Tolgoi

That doesn't mean Mongolia's project pipeline is empty. Construction of the second phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, where 80 percent of the project's wealth lies, is expected to deliver about $1 billion in FDI each year over the next five years. The currently producing open-pit mine at Oyu Tolgoi has helped push the nation's copper exports to almost 1 million metric tons this year.

Beyond that project, though, the rest of the sector is struggling, said McRae. "All are finding it very hard in terms of survival at the moment. A lot of their strategies are going to be focused on cost containment, capital spend only on things that give a very short-term return.''

One possible area of investment is Tavan Tolgoi, where the previous government cobbled together an investment deal with a consortium, including China's Shenhua Energy Co. While the agreement stalled in Parliament, the Erdenebat government is looking to get a deal back on track.

Merely sitting on China's doorstep, with large reserves of copper, gold, coal and iron ore, might not be enough of a competitive advantage. The country should identify where it needs to improve its investment climate by measuring itself against other countries, consultant McRae said.

IMF Rescue

"If I was in charge of a ministry I would ask who are my competitors for capital, what do their laws look like, how does their bureaucracy interact with business and how easy is it to win finance," he said.

McRae called it an "appropriate'' step for Mongolia to consider a stabilization program with its lenders. The IMF, in Mongolia for talks with leaders last week, is prepared to send a larger delegation to Ulaanbaatar to address the country's financial needs, according to a statement published on a Mongolian government website.

Improving the country's business reputation may take longer. The so-called Hotel Mongolia incidents, which saw several foreign business people trapped in the country against their will while authorities investigated their companies, appears to be a thing of the past.

However, Anglo American Plc. and Peabody Energy Corp. have closed offices in Ulaanbaatar amid global cost cutting measures. The government still owes a $30 million back payment to Samsung C&T over the construction of a railway from Tavan Tolgoi to the border with China.

A two-year long dispute with Rio Tinto Group that stalled progress at Oyu Tolgoi was resolved, opening the door to $4.4 billion in project financing. The government also ended a long-standing conflict with Canada's Khan Resources Inc. by paying the miner $70 million as compensation for lost mining licenses.

Restoring Mongolia's reputation with foreign investors may turn out to be as challenging as sorting out the country's debt mess.

Link to article

 

Mongolia discusses economic crisis plan with World Bank and IFC

August 24 (UB Post) A delegation led by the World Bank's Country Manager to Mongolia James Anderson and Country Director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to Mongolia Tuyen Nguyen met with Prime Minister J.Erdenebat to discuss issues concerning Mongolia's economy and plans to overcome current economic difficulties.

James Anderson said that Mongolia and the World Bank will mark their 25th anniversary of cooperation this year. He underlined that in connection with the event, the World Bank and Mongolia will review its cooperation, and promised to consider cabinet proposals for a strategic cooperation plan for the next 25 years.

In response, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said, "Mongolia's economy needs to have many pillars. With this aim, we will focus on developing processing industries in all sectors in order to diversify the nation's economy. We will lower high dependence on the mining sector.

"However, as of today we don't have any economically profitable projects with positive environmental and social evaluations, and completed feasibility studies. We want to collaborate with the World Bank in evaluating major industrial projects and work on feasibility studies."

Anderson noted that he agrees with the Prime Minister, and suggested that the Mongolian government focus on regaining foreign investors'trust.

The IFC's Country Director Nguyen said that the IFC is ready to provide assistance for overcoming Mongolia's economic crisis by supporting Mongolia's private sector.

The World Bank and IFC delegation also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil.

At the meeting, Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil presented about the structure and functions of the new cabinet. He talked about governmental measures to be taken to stabilize the macro-economy and for attracting investments.

"A new department on external trade and economic cooperation has been set up within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mongolia is now able to collaborate with the World Bank in diversifying Mongolian exports, facilitating trade issues concerning the joining international trade agreements and treaties," the minister said.

The World Bank delegation reported about ongoing projects being implemented by the bank in Mongolia, and reached an agreement to study possibilities to cooperate in training experts to establish regional economic integration and international commerce agreements.

Link to article

Back to top

Politics & Legal

Speaker announces extraordinary session of parliament on August 25-September 25

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) Speaker of parliament M.Enkhbold issued Wednesday an ordinance to open an irregular session of parliament at 10.00 am on August 25. It will end on September 25, 2016.

The upcoming irregular session is expected to discuss draft resolutions of parliament on marking the 100th birth anniversary of Tsedenbal Yumjaa, a prominent political figure and General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Mongolian People's Party, on approval of the 2016-2020 governmental action program, on utilization of techniques and devices in the 2016 elections of the Citizens' Representative Khural (Council) of soums and districts, on approval of expenses for the upcoming elections, on approval of the 2015 performance of the master budget, the general financial report of government and the 2015 performance of the budget, on withdrawal of some draft laws and resolutions, and on agendas to be discussed at the 2016 parliamentary regular session.

Draft amendments to the laws and related bills will be discussed on the 2016 budget framework of the master budget, on the 2017-2018 budget assumption of budget, on the 2016 budget, on 2016 budgets for the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) and the Human Development Fund (HDF), and on fixing size of customs tax on some exported products.

Agendas of the irregular session included bills on exemption from excise taxes, on military service, on legal status of military servicemen and on ratifying the Paris Agreement within framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In addition, the session will consider draft amendments to the laws on rules of adhering to the laws on crime and conflicts, on bail of movable and non-material capitals, on defense (new version) and on the Armed Forces (new version).

The session will discuss an issue of appointing and discharging a vice president of the Bank of Mongolia and conclusions from the Constitutional Court as well.

Link to article

 

Budget cuts proposed by the Minister of Finance

August 24 (gogo.mn) Minister of Finance submitted revised law on budget to the State Great Khural. 

Cut on student stipends

The Government plans to stop granting monthly stipends of MNT 70,000 to the students. This will save MNT 11.7 billion in 2016 and MNT 33.7 billion annually. 

Student stipends of Vocational Training Centers will be stopped temporarily. Savings come up to MNT 9.6 billion in 2016 and MNT 19.8 billion annually. 

The Government will fund 50 percent of public transportation fee of students and the remaining costs will be charged by the students. 

Overseas scholarships will be stopped 

The Government will stop giving overseas scholarships to Mongolian students during 2016-2019 academic year. In scope of overseas scholarships program, total of MNT 33.1 billion was approved for the 2016 Budget. 

The retirement age of the herders will be lowered by five

The retirement age of the herders will be lowered by five starting 2018 in order to provide retirement income security to herders and reduce the future costs of social security fund. Only 9.1 percent out of 261.7 thousand working-age herders are participated in voluntary pension insurance due to its premium costs high. 

Salary of MNT 2.7-3.3 million for judges will be slashed 

Current judge salaries is higher than average public servant`s salaries which require the same qualifications. Therefore, the Government plans to change the legal framework for salaries of 519 judges. This will save MNT 3.2 billion in 2016 and MNT 7.7 annually. 

60 percent of the children to receive children benefit

In the first six months of 2016, monthly children benefit of MNT 20,000 was granted to the children involved in living standards survey. 

Children aged up to 18 year old who are registered in 1-10th groups of living have the right to receive the children's benefits in the remaining months. Children benefits have planned to be compensated to the remaining 40 percent by 2019.

Link to article

 

Social insurance premium hike proposed to reduce pension deficit

August 24 (gogo.mn) Minister of Finance B.Choijilsuren submitted draft law on the state budget framework for 2017-2018. The State Great Khural to discuss the submitted law tomorrow. 

According to the draft law, social insurance contributions paid by both employee and employer will be increased by five points in order to reduce pension fund deficits.

Expenditure of pension insurance fund was accounted 4.1 percent of GDP in 2011 and increased to 5.5 percent in 2016. Therefore, the Government plans to change the retirement age and contribution rate in accordance with the Mongolia`s demographic composition. 

The Government could not finance the pension fund deficits. Therefore, Ministry of Finance made preliminary estimate to rise the current contributions rate by 10-12 points. 

Thus, 9.5 percent of contributions will set for both employer and employee while it will rise by one percent in 2017, 2018 and 0.5 point in 2019.

Link to article

Related:

Government to discuss social insurance contributionsnews.mn, August 24

 

Draft 2016-2020 governmental action program to be submitted to parliament

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) At its expanded meeting held Tuesday, the cabinet discussed a draft governmental action program for 2016-2020, and decided to submit it to parliament, reflecting proposals from local authorities.

This program has been worked out based on the Concept on Sustainable Development until 2030, the election program of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and views from people, civil society organizations, contracts and documents.

Main objectives of the program are to revive the national economy which is in difficult situation in a short time, to support social sectors by accelerate the economic growth and to improve the people's livelihood. The program also sets certain goals to empower the public service, to maximize professionalism of public servants, to make the public services quicker and more transparent and to strengthen the national security by fortifying the social trust.

The governmental action program has 350 clauses in four chapters.

Link to article

 

Contract on responsibilities established with local governors

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat established Wednesday a contract on responsibilities with governors of aimags and the capital city Mayor.

In accordance with the contract, the governors of aimags and the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar pledge to maintain the responsibilities which are divided into eight clauses.

The document says the governors and Mayor shall adhere to legal responsibilities all the time under the Constitution and other laws, and they have to fully implement the governmental action program in their localities.

The local administrative units must be provided with educated and skilled staffers who are specialized and experienced in their job. They shall maintain budget saving policies and make the public services more open to people. In order to improve the local economy and financial capability, the governors also will maintain budgetary disciplines and combat corruption and bribes.

The governors will ensure the economic growth of their localities and take actions for ensuring an equal development of society such as education, culture and health so that poverty and unemployment rates will be minimized.

By the contract, punishment will be imposed upon those governors who did not fulfilled the responsibilities given the government and Prime Minister at a sufficient level, and those who committed violations of the contract's clauses.

Realization of the contract on responsibilities will be annually reported at the cabinet.

Link to article

 

Economists Give Policy Advice to New Government

August 24 (Mongolian Economy) Discussions on the current state of the Mongolian economy and difficulties and solutions surrounding it were held yesterday at the Best Western Tuushin Hotel, with academics and representatives from financial institutions that regularly conduct economic research on macro issues present for the discussions.

The discussions started with an exchange of views on the current economic situation. In general, the majority of the economists who participated in the discussion agreed that the budget deficit is the main factor further exacerbating the economic difficulties. For many years, the state maintained optimistic projections on revenues that have never been fulfilled. On the other hand, budget expenditures have been increased significantly, further deepening the deficit. Government debt exceeded the amount allowed by the Fiscal Stability Law as a result of the inaccurate revenue projections and holes in the budget being financed by foreign and domestic bonds.

The key challenge for the future of Mongolia's economy has become government debt and service charges. For example, the government has to pay USD 500 million in fall of 2017, MNT 2 trillion in 2018-2019 and MNT 4 trillion in 2020. On top of these figures, the payments for bonds issued domestically will be added. Hence, it is necessary that this year's budget and amendments be approved without deficits.

In addition, key economic indicators for the past 12 months have been showing a downward trend. Household consumption has decreased by 2 percent and non-mining GDP by 1.2 percent. There was no increase in wages as unemployment reached 11 percent, the highest level in five years. To add insult to injury, the tugrik was named the worst-performing currency in the past month.

Economists involved in this discussion, however, had different opinions about what steps to take regarding monetary policy in such a situation. According to B.Tuvshintugs, an economist and associate professor at the National University of Mongolia (NUM), the Bank of Mongolia needs to implement an expansionary monetary policy in this falling economy, as it has not supplied enough money in the past. Economists such as B.Altantsetseg, another associate professor at the NUM, and G.Bumchimeg, an economist at the Economic Research Institute of Mongolia, recommended making decisions based on thorough analysis in order to implement tight monetary policy and take macro-economic and external factors such as the trade surplus and increasing exports into account. In addition, they raised issues on continuing money supply channels such as the mortgage lending programme while the tight monetary policy is implemented.

However, some economists such as Ch.Khashchuluun and D.Dolgorsuren, a professor at the Academy of Management, said that it is appropriate to implement the IMF's stand-by programme and lauded the Bank of Mongolia's decision to increase its policy interest rate as a measure to stabilise the exchange rate to prepare for the IMF's programme.

Regarding monetary policy decisions, economist B.Erdenebat said that using many important economic indicators and developing them in regular, short intervals will be the basis for prudent policy actions. He also reminded attendees that the exchange rate will stabilise when the economy gets back on track.

Economists such as B.Tuvshintugs said that crises rarely come alone and that the banking sector could be the next sector to be afflicted. B.Munkhzaya, a professor at the Institute of Finance and Economics of Mongolia, warned that the equity capital of banks is decreasing, sources have become insufficient, outstanding non-performing loans rose to 15 percent, and mortgage loans account for more than a fifth of total loans. The latter poses a huge risk due to falling real estate prices.

Some participants conveyed that they were less than impressed with the discussions as the Bank of Mongolia did not present their own estimates and analyses despite organising the event, and policy-level officials from the Bank of Mongolia and the Ministry of Finance were not present. The organisers announced that it is possible to openly report the protocol of the discussion to the public after introducing it to their administration.

Link to article

 

Deputy Premier meets UN Resident Coordinator Beate Trankmann

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh received Wednesday Beate Trankmann, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative to Mongolia; and Daniela Gasparikova, Deputy Permanent Representative of UNDP to Mongolia.

Beginning the meeting, the Deputy Premier expressed thanks to the UN and its organizations for supporting Mongolian socio-economic goals and rendering aid, and underlined that the UNDP has immensely contributed to a successful realization of goals to develop the good governance, to reduce the poverty rate, to save environment and to back sustainable development.

Khurelsukh said the government of Mongolia will continue supporting implementation of the Goals of Sustainable Development approved by UN members and he will co-relate these goals with the governmental action program to be discussed at parliament soon.

The UN Resident Coordinator congratulated U.Khurelsukh on being appointed as the Deputy Premier and then expressed her willingness to collaborate with the Deputy PM in realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNDP has cooperated with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) since 2015 in reducing disaster risks, gaining some achievements. The UNDP will continue this collaboration, Beate Trankmann said. She added that the UN is ready to cooperate with Mongolia in introducing international experiences in Mongolia.

Link to article

 

Promoting Open Governance in Mongolia's Changing Political Landscape

By Ariunaa Norovsambuu, Gantulga Ganbaatar, and Bayanmunkh Ariunbold

August 24 (The Asia Foundation) On June 29, 2016, Mongolians voted for a new parliament (the State Great Khural), which resulted in a landslide victory for the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) over the ruling Democratic Party (DP). The overwhelming win came as a surprise to many, and clearly indicates the Mongolian public's dissatisfaction with DP's governance performance over the last four years and the desire for a fresh start in what has been a difficult period of economic downturn.

Local and international investors have also expressed optimism over the win, which could give the new majority MPP assembled Parliament and Cabinet the ability to conduct business without as many impediments from the opposing parties. Several news sources also pointed out that voters were fed up with what was a perceived lack of accountability and transparency from DP representatives. According to The Asia Foundation's latest Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK), for the first time since 2006, when the survey was first conducted, political parties topped the list as the most corrupt institutions.

Despite Mongolia's economic and social successes since its democratic transition in the early 1990s, corruption and bureaucracy have thwarted the country's development which has as a result been plagued by lack of transparency, accountability, and conflict of interest. Management of public resources and assets are ineffective and inadequate. In response to this, increasing transparency and accountability and improving public services and ensuring citizen participation have become essential to the government of Mongolia in its effort to improve governance.

In 2013, Mongolia joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international platform for countries committed to making their governments open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. OGP fosters collaboration among countries to share emerging trends and innovative approaches to open government that can then be applied by respective member countries. Each participating country is required to submit a National Action Plan (NAP) that outlines its key commitments toward achieving these goals.

Mongolia just recently submitted its second NAP for 2016-2018, following the first one in 2014-2016 which highlighted 35 commitments primarily focused on increasing transparency, openness and improving services to citizens. For instance, it included a budget transparency mechanism in accordance with the Glass Account Law, passed in 2014 to make information related to the extractive industry, environment, foreign investment, and procurement open to the public.

However, according to the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism conducted earlier this year, the completion rate of Mongolia's commitments was 24 percent – significantly below the global average of 51 percent. Despite that sobering news, the report also found 43 percent of Mongolia's commitments to be ambitious with potential of transformative change. For example, the government's commitment to develop a public online database of mineral, oil, and real estate-ownership licenses which would make key foreign investment and major mining agreements transparent were featured as examples of transformative actions.

Following the passage of the Glass Account Law, one of the commitments that obtained a "star" rating was the one that required government agencies and legal entities with state involvement in Mongolia to make their budgetary information open and transparent to the public. Information has been disclosed through a single platform and clear reporting rules have been set to enable timely submission and disclosure of information. Municipal governments and other state entities have been active in their participation, and the overall compliance rate is now at 96.8 percent.

Based on the lessons learned and experiences of the first NAP, Mongolia is now moving to implement the commitments in the second action plan. There are some key differences – for example, it has fewer commitments focused on service delivery and transparency, and includes a charter for OGP National Council that will improve coordination and implementation of the action plan.

Yet, the question still remains how successfully the newly formed government will implement the approved 13 commitments. Many factors will influence the implementation including the national budget crisis, unwillingness to implement certain commitment due to conflicts of interests, and lack of pressure from the public to address important challenges.

Going forward, it is important to broaden the ownership of OGP commitments by including wider representation of sub-national governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and media so that there is a greater voice in the consultation, implementation, and monitoring stages of the commitments. Strong assurance from all branches of the government, including the parliament and judiciary, is a must in the process. The government should aim to go beyond disclosure to accountability by creating effective citizen feedback channels and complaint systems to further hold public officials accountable and transparent.

Successful implementation and continuation of Mongolia's OGP action plan now depends on the new government and, one thing is clear: with the majority of seats in the parliament belonging to the MPP, the party has no one to halt their agenda – for better or for worse. Let's hope the MPP uses its newfound position to further the agenda for a more open and transparent Mongolia.

The SPEAK survey is conducted in collaboration with Sant-Maral Foundation and supported by Global Affairs Canada.

Ariunaa Norovsambuu is The Asia Foundation's deputy manager of the Urban Governance Project, Bayanmunkh Ariunbold is the Project Manager for the STEPS project, and Gantulga Ganbaatar is a program officer with the STEPS project. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.

Link to post

Back to top

Business

First batch of freight via economic corridor received

August 24 (Mongolian Economy) The first tests of the Tianjin Port-Ulaanbaatar-Ulan Ude freight line was completed successfully on August 13-24. This comes a year after the signing of an agreement to establish an economic corridor between Russia, Mongolia and China in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last June. The ministries in charge of transportation in the three countries intend to cooperate to "carry out international transportation by utilising the Asian Highway Network."

A welcome ceremony was held on August 21 in Ulaanbaatar in reception of the first batch of freight from Tianjin, China, with those in attendance including D.Ganbat, Minister of Road and Transport Development of Mongolia; Wang Shuiping, Director of the Transportation Department of China's Ministry of Transport; and Bakirey Aleksey Sergeevich, Director of the Public Policy Department of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation. Minister D.Ganbat praised the cooperative arrangement, calling it a modern utilisation of the ancient Tea Horse Road.

This international transit network is expected to have great significance for economic, trade and transport cooperation between the three countries as it opens a gateway for Mongolian businesses to transport freight to other countries and compete in the global market. The freight line is twice as fast as standard rail and more efficient economically. Representatives of three nations are negotiating the establishment of a joint logistics company and are currently studying the economic feasibility of highways along the same route.

The Ministry of Road and Transport Development of Mongolia supports the establishment of an agreement on "International auto transportation via the Asian Highway Network" between the governments of the three countries within 2016 in order to foster sustainable freight operations going into the future.

Link to article

Related:

Mongolia conducts transit transportation trial with its neighborsUB Post, August 24

 

Izuma Ushiyama: Mongolia has high potential to build solar power plants

August 24 (gogo.mn) 11th Mongolia-Japan International Conference on Electric Power Transmission and Distribution Technologies and International Standardization is being held at the Energy School of the National University of Science and Technology. We deliver you the interview with Chairman of the Board of Ashikaga Institue of Technology, Ph.D., Izumi Ushiyama. 

-What energy technologies are able to be implemented in Mongolia according to the Japanese experience?

-According to the example of Japan, Mongolia has high potential to build solar power plant in renewable energy sector. 

-What is the theme of your presentation at the conference? 

-I will deliver presentation on global trend of using natural renewable energy, its experience and current condition. My topic will cover Mongolia too. 

-How is the possibility and terms to use solar energy in Mongolia? What is the first step Mongolia should take?

-Technology to build solar power plant has developed already. The key thing to consider is to find solution on connection to the central network. For instance, wind power plant need to be built in windy place. 

-What renewable energy policy is Japan maintaining? 

-Government of Japan has started implementing promotional pricing system in renewable energy sector since 2012. Government purchase renewable energy with high cost. 

As a result, renewable energy production reached 80 million kwh over the last three years. 

-How do you evaluate the global energy consumption?

-The most serious problem facing to the world's energy consumption is CO2 emissions. There are two solutions. First, nuclear power station and the second solution is to build renewable energy sources. 

However, Japanese experience shows that nuclear power station is not the right solution. Thus, we should use renewable energy.

Link to article

 

LehmanLaw: Ever Wanted to Buy Land in Mongolia?

August 15 (LehmanLaw Mongolia LLP) If there is anything Mongolia has plenty of it is land! As of January of this year, Mongolia has revised regulations for land auctions. The auction regulations cover land ownership, possession or usage, all terms of art under Mongolia law indicating a certain allocation of property rights.

Under Mongolian law, only the Mongolian state or Mongolian individuals are able to formally own land and hold all rights of use and disposal. Mongolian individuals and companies may also have rights to "possess" land, which is a kind of more limited right to land within the context of an agreement with the state. Foreigners generally may hold rights to "use" land.

The law prescribes certain conditions in which a land auction is required. When required, an auction may be initiated  via an invitation to bid published at least 30 days prior to the date the auction is to be held. Interested persons much be registered before the auction is held. Before the recent update to the regulations the invitation to bid was required to be published via a public media format. The updates now also allow publication to be posted to the website of the organizer. The updates also allow for a completely online auction format.

The starting price of the auction is in most cases set by the local Governor, and participating parties are required to pay 10 percent of the initial auction price as a deposit. The deposit is returned in full within 5 days after the auction, to all but the winning participant.

Other highlights of the updated regulation include a new mechanism for dispute resolution. In previous regulations, the Supervisor of the Auction Commission would make a decision on disputes which arose during the auction or in connection with the process, and the only way to challenge the decision was before court. The new regulation only requires a preliminary decision on the issue from the local Governor, after which a suit may be filed at court.

Link to article

Back to top

Ulaanbaatar

Must-see building: Ulaanbaatar City Museum

August 24 (gogo.mn) In scope of Friendly Ulaanbaatar program, we introduce you the 20 historical and must-see sites and buildings in Ulaanbaatar city as series.

This time, we are pointing out the history of Ulaanbaatar city museum which offers a brief but insightful view of Ulaanbaatar's history through old maps, photos and tapestries. 

History of Museum Building 

Buryat trader Tsogt Garmaevich Badamjav or Tsogtbadamjav has built the house for his own use in 1918-1919 and lived there with his family until 1932. 

Central Committee of the Mongolian People`s Party and Mongolian Military Staff have housed temporarily in the museum building in 1921.

Also, the museum building was served as Embassy of Tuva Republic during 1930, museum of D.Sukhbaatar during 1946-1953, Central Press Place during 1953-1956 and now it has operating as Ulaanbaatar city museum since 1956. 

The museum building has Eastern Siberian traditional style. Tsogtbadamjav has placed desk looking upward at its roof to celebrate the fall of the Russia empire and it has still preserved today. 

Location: Bayanzurkh District, 15th khoroo, east side of the Wrestling Palace
Working hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm on Monday to Friday 
Price: Adults - MNT 1500, Students - MNT 1000, Children - MNT 500                          
Tel: 976-11-450960

Link to article

Back to top

Diplomacy

Foreign Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil receives Hungarian Mongolist and Cultural Envoy of Mongolia Agnes Birtalan

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Monkh-Orgil received Tuesday professor Agnes Birtalan, a Mongolist from the Hungary's Eotvos Lorand University and Cultural Envoy of Mongolia.

At the beginning of the meeting, professor Birtalan briefed about the Center of Mongol Studies at the Eotvos Lorand University. She asked the Minister to render support to the center and expressed her willingness to promote Mongolia in Hungary as she serves as the Cultural Envoy.

The Foreign Minister expressed gratitude to the professor for taking part in the 11th International Congress of Mongolists and for contributing to a development of Mongol studies in Europe. He mentioned that developing Mongol studies and promoting Mongolia around the world are important parts of the Mongolian government and its policy, and said he is ready to support professor Birtalan.

Link to article

 

New Vice Foreign Minister Meets Ambassador of China

Ulaanbaatar, August 24 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs B.Battsetseg received Tuesday Xing Haiming, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia.

The Ambassador congratulated B.Battsetseg on assuming her post and conveyed to her warm greetings of Liu Zhenmin, Vice Foreign Minister; and Kong Xuanyou, the Assistant Minister the PRC.

Deputy Foreign Minister Battsetseg thanked the Ambassador and expressed her satisfaction with a present level of the bilateral relations and cooperation.

The sides exchanged views on the cooperation in spheres of politics, economy, culture, education and humanity as well as high-level mutual visits to be implemented in the near future.

Link to article

 

Mogi: looks like our friends to the south are ready to "help"

China-Mongolia economic cooperation valuable to maintain regional stability

By Hu Weijia

August 24 (Global Times) Can China play a role to help ease Mongolia's economic crisis?

Observers are currently speculating if Mongolia is set to be the next nation to follow Venezuela to the verge of economic collapse, as the currency of the mining-dependent country is in free fall and there are rumors that the state can't pay the salaries of its national athletes. Possible chaos in the Chinese neighborhood is undoubtedly contrary to China's interests.

China may need to consider approving a financial bailout for Mongolia to help the country address its problems in economic and social development. 

Reuters said Wednesday that Mongolia's budget deficit stands at 20.6 percent of GDP, far higher than was previously thought. Now Mongolia's top priority will be to take concrete measures to reduce its budget deficit and prevent financial risks from further expanding.

China has a long-standing friendship with Mongolia and has repeatedly offered loans and free aid to the Asian neighbor. Considering Mongolia is a key nation in the One Belt and One Road initiative, now would be a good time for China to strengthen cooperation with Mongolia in fields such as infrastructure, energy and minerals by providing additional preferential loans and financial assistance, which would likely help reduce Mongolia's budget deficit.

China's oil-for-loans deal with Venezuela, which gives the South American country's crisis-hit economy a break, has received an increasing amount of attention from the world. At a time when international investors are cautious about providing support for the nation, China appears to be one of the last sources of assistance for Venezuela. To some extent, a similar resource-for-loans deal can be used between China and Mongolia.

Financial assistance from China would help in the fight against Mongolia's economic crisis, but a full recovery requires more effort from Mongolia to ensure the stable and sound development of its financial system. Reuters reported Tuesday that Mongolians had begun to scrabble for US dollars and Chinese yuan after the local currency has plunged in recent weeks. In this regard, Mongolia may need to consider enhancing its financial cooperation with China and seek to expand the currency-swap scale between the yuan and Mongolia's tugrik.

What landed Mongolia in its current economic crisis are a number of factors including an unfriendly attitude toward foreign investment. Now that investors from other countries have reportedly started yanking funds out of the country, Mongolia may not have many options, other than China, to work with. In this regard, China-Mongolia economic cooperation will be valuable to maintain regional stability.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times

Link to article

Back to top

Health, Education

Kindergarten program announced for MFA workers' children

August 24 (news.mn) As a part of the 'A Kindergarten for Every Child' programme, three ministries will provide a kindergarten for their workers' children. The Foreign Ministry, one of those three, has already begun modernizing the 2nd floor of a building, which was used for the preparation of ASEM (Asia-European Meeting). It is located near kindergarten 16 of UB's Sukhbaatar district. The kindergarten, will provide room for 75 children (65 of them from the Foreign Ministry workers and 10 from the Ministry of Health).

The State is to pay almost MNT 870 million for the building costs of the new kindergarten facility and MNT 250-300 million for its annual operation. But, because the Mongolian government is currently facing financial difficulties, the Foreign Ministry workers have donated their salaries for the new kindergarten.

Link to article

Back to top

Culture, Society

UNICEF launch the study of child poverty in Mongolia

The analysis will help the government in achieving SDG #1 to end poverty in all its forms everywhere -

24 August 2016, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (UNICEF Mongolia) – UNICEF and the Government of Mongolia are launching the results of the first ever comprehensive deprivation analysis (MODA), which presents a multi-dimensional picture of child wellbeing and areas of persisting disparities in Mongolia

MODA adopts a holistic definition of child well-being, concentrating on the access to various goods and services which are crucial for their survival and development. It recognizes that a child's experience of deprivations is multi-faceted and interrelated, and that such multiple, overlapping deprivations are more likely to occur, and with greater adverse effects, on more socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

UNICEF acknowledges that children experience poverty in ways that are different from adults as they do not earn income and make decisions over consumption of their households, and therefore advocates for the need of better multi-dimensional analysis of child poverty.

"Children experience poverty as an environment that is damaging to their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development. Therefore, expanding the definition of child poverty beyond traditional conceptualizations, such as low household income or low levels of consumption, is particularly important." said UNICEF Mongolia Deputy Representative Judith Bruno.

"We expect that the findings of this analysis will inform the government's poverty reduction policies and programmes for children and help achieve the SDG #1 to end poverty in all its forms everywhere," added Ms Bruno.

The MODA by Economic Policy Research Institute, supported by UNICEF Mongolia illustrates significant deprivations of children in all analyzed dimensions, including, health, nutrition, education, ECD, WASH, housing and child protection with significant overlap with monetary poverty. It is devastating that a substantial proportion of children experience several deprivations simultaneously, implying a more coordinated and integrated government efforts and policies for children.

The findings show that:

  • Around two third of children aged under 5 years in Mongolia suffer from at least 3 deprivations at the same time
  • Household monetary poverty status is a significant factor that affects deprivation, with children more likely to have multiple deprivations if they are living in the poorest households. For instance, around 7 out of 10 children of the poorest households of the same age experience either 4 or 5 deprivations respectively
  • 15.7% of children age 0-23 months living second-poorest households experience 5 deprivations simultaneously.     

Pure monetary policies aiming to raise household incomes in order to reduce income poverty of children would exclude a significant proportion of children who may not be considered monetary poor, but are nevertheless lacking essential resources for their development and contribution to human capital. Thus, knowledge of and insight into the characteristic of the poor and deprived children help the government in designing policies and programmes that address both monetary and multidimensional child poverty.

The results of the analyses is posted on a web portal for easier access and use by the policy and decision makers, research communities, CSOs and the public at: nmoda.spriglobal.org

Link to article

 

Buddhism makes a comeback in Mongolia

ULAN BATOR, AUG 24 (EFE). — Only one monastery remained open during the communist crackdown on Buddhism in Mongolia, making Gandan not only the symbol of decades of religious resistance against persecution, but also a symbol of its resurgence in the Asian country.

Erected on a hill in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital, the Gandan (an abbreviation of Gandantegchinlin) monastery opens onto Peace Avenue, an arterial road that runs from end to end in the city, which, with 1.3 million inhabitants, is home to nearly half the country's population.

With resplendent colors drawn from its Tibetan roots, hundreds of monks live, pray and meet within the monastery's premises.

Gankhuyag, 32, is sure of why he decided to dedicate his life to Buddhism.

"My grandparents lived near Gandan, so it was natural for me to come here, where everything, from the space to its aroma, is familiar to me and makes me feel good," he told EFE.

In a soft and melodic tone, Gankhuyag said he became a monk "to satisfy the wishes of his grandmother," and for him the decision would mean "dedicating time for meditation and reflection, in order to serve the people better."

"Modern life," he continued, "has too many daily activities. We tell people that there is another life possible ... peaceful and quiet."

The monk then lamented the difficulty of teaching this other way of life during the nearly 70 years of the communist rule from 1921 to 1990 under the Soviets, a time when religious centers and their teachings were destroyed, similar to China's 19661976 Cultural Revolution.

Around 100,000 people were persecuted and some 20,000 lamas, or Buddhist masters, and 10,000 monks were executed, while 10,000 others were sent to labor camps in Siberia.

Approximately 20,000 monasteries were destroyed, drying up the spiritual energy of a country with centuries of Buddhist tradition.

"It was a great loss," the monk said, adding that "the more you study Buddhism, the more you like it."

Tales of oppression have motivated the new generation, following the dissolution of the regime, to exercise their religious freedom and recover the Buddhist teachings for the future.

Narantuya and Narantungalag are 18-year-olds who came to spend the morning at Gandan and identified themselves as Buddhists because there is the freedom to do so.

"Before, religion was banned. Now there is freedom, an opening toward being religious," Narantuya said.

Her friend sat down and recalled the stories told by her parents, who said that "when they were young, it was very difficult to profess one's religion, but now it is allowed and we appreciate it."

The young women and the monk agreed on the understanding of their faith as a form of homage to their parents and grandparents, who had to practice it behind closed doors, and see it as a legacy to keep alive.

Being a monk, moreover, is a prestigious way of life in Mongolia, which regained its two main identities after the end of communism: Buddhism and Genghis Khan, the founder of the great Mongol Empire in the 13th century whose memory the proSoviet government tried to wipe out.

Otgondolgor, a former nomad now living in Ulan Bator, proudly revealed that two of her eight children have become lamas and another will go to complete his training in India soon.

"Being a lama is socially demanding, many people call them for any occasion and for any service," the matriarch, also a Buddhist, told EFE, showing pictures of her children attired in saffron robes.

Another factor for the resurgence of Buddhism in Mongolia, in contrast to neighboring China, is that the government helps finance temples and monasteries, and has no qualms about receiving the Dalai Lama, who has visited the country on numerous occasions.

Link to article

Back to top

Nature, Environment

The wild camel – a great survivor

August 23 (Geographical) Listed as 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN, the double-humped camel has nonetheless proved a remarkably breed. John Hare of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation outlines makes a case for the future of the species

Very few people are aware that the critically endangered wild double-humped camel (Camelus ferus) is, according to ZSL, the eighth most endangered large mammal in the world. As few as 450 roam the Mongolian Gobi, in a 55,000 square kilometre reserve called the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area 'A'. Another 600 are found across the Chinese border, in the desert surrounding the dried-up lake of Lop Nur where, in 2003, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation (WCPF), a UK registered charity, established an even larger reserve.

In 2008, genetic testing carried out by the Veterinary University in Vienna on samples sent by WCPF from both China and Mongolia proved the wild camel is an entirely new and separate species that evolved over 700,000 years ago – and not, as was previously thought, a domesticated Bactrian camel turned feral.

In China, wild camels have developed the incredible ability to drink water with a higher salt content than seawater and they survived 43 atmospheric nuclear tests when their habitat was the former Lop Nur nuclear test area. Today, their enemy is man, who enters their protected areas, often illegally, to explore for gold, copper or iron ore and shoots the wild camel for food. A growing wolf population in both countries also takes its toll.

In 1997, alarmed by these growing threats, I co-founded the WCPF, which obtained World Bank funding and established the Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve in China – at 155,000 square kilometres one of the largest in the world.

In 2004, the WCPF also established a Wild Camel Breeding Centre, in southwestern Mongolia, on the fringe of the Gobi 'A' site. Peter Hall, an Australian philanthropist, along with the Mongolian Ministry for Nature both provided essential support. We started with 12 wild camels and today there are 28.

November to February, is when the male camels start their three-month-long 'rut' and the females come into season. As temperatures drop into the minus 30s, the male camels' adrenalin levels rise.

If a group of young bull camels challenge the alpha male in the confines of a wild camel breeding centre, the situation can be explosive. Fences and wooden buildings can be smashed and herdsmen put in fear of their lives.

The only solution is to remove the three-to-six-year-old males from the fray. Consequently, in October 2013 we released two young males into the desert, and six more in October 2015. They were fitted with satellite collars by the Academy of Sciences in China and both the releases have been extremely successful.

Our goals are to safeguard the wild camel's unique genetic makeup for future generations and to introduce fresh blood into the wild population by releasing camels we breed into their natural habitat.

But it's not only the camel's genetic make-up that is unique. Its ability to survive both nuclear testing and salt water make it a species that must not be lost to the world on account of man's greed.

John Hare is the co-founder of the Wild Camel Protection Foundation (a UK registered charity – number 1068706), and is committed to saving from extinction in the Gobi deserts of China and Mongolia the critically endangered wild camel. See www.wildcamels.com and www.johnhare.org.uk for more details.

Link to article

Back to top

Sports

AFC Cup 2017 Qualifiers in Ulaanbaatar

August 24 (news.mn) An annual international association football competition between domestic clubs run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is taking place in Ulaanbaatar the Mongolian capital. On Tuesday (23th August) Nepal's Three Star Club came from being behind in the 85th minute to draw 1-1 with Cambodia's Nagaworld FC in their second Group B match.  

Nagaworld took a lead in the 28th minute with Nhim Sovannara's goal at the MFF Football Centre in Ulaanbaatar. Three Star's foreign recruit Ajayi Martins Kayode leveled the score in the 87th minute. With the crucial draw today, the Nepali league champions have strengthened their chances for the next round of the qualification.

Three Star's fate, however, depends upon the result of the match between the Mongolian Erchim FC and Nagaworld slated for Thursday (24th August). Three Star had defeated hosts Erchim by 2-0 in the opener.

Link to article

Back to top

Art, Entertainment

Petite Muller's 'crazy' music video shoot in Mongolia

August 24 (news.mn) "The Flute" music video by French pop star Petite Meller has filmed in the northern Mongolian province of Khuvsgul. Her new single was released on 19th August; so far the music video has reached more than 110 thousand views on Youtube.

Petite Meller had an idea about founding her own tribe in Mongolia, one where there are girls with natural blush (Meller rarely appears without pink blush all over her cheeks.) "I remember how as a child I saw a photo of a blushed Mongolian girl," she explains, "and felt a strange connection. Filming began after a 13-hour cross-country drive and a horseback ride to reach the Northern Nomads, the girls with natural blush, the sumo guys and the reindeers. We had no wi-fi, no phone reception, just beautiful animals and endless grass."

Petite Meller is a Parisian philosophy graduate and madcap leftfield popstar whose real name and age remain a mystery. Visually she's like an actually alternative Lady Gaga, but her tunes are ones Kylie might sing.

Link to article

Back to top

 

---

    

Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Email: info@covermongolia.com
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.