Disclosure of secret offshore documents may force top Mongolian lawmaker to resign
Deputy speaker of Mongolia's Parliament admits he had $1 million Swiss account.
April 3 (The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) One of Mongolia's most senior politicians says he is considering resigning from office after being confronted with evidence that he has an offshore company and a secret Swiss bank account.
"I shouldn't have opened that account," Bayartsogt Sangajav, Mongolia's deputy speaker of Parliament, told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
"I don't worry about my reputation. I worry about my family," he said after ICIJ asked him about records revealing his offshore holdings. "I probably should consider resigning from my position."
Bayartsogt, who says his Swiss account at one point contained more than $1 million, became his country's finance minister in September 2008, a position he held until a cabinet reshuffle in August 2012. (Mogi: until DP withdrew in early 2012)
During those years he attended international meetings and served as governor of the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction, pushing the case for his poor nation to receive foreign development assistance and investment.
He was also at the forefront of encouraging foreign mining and other companies to move into Mongolia, one of the world's most sparsely populated countries.
A cache of 2.5 million secret offshore files obtained by ICIJ includes documentation that Bayartsogt acquired a British Virgins Islands company, Legend Plus Capital Limited, in May 2008. The company was then used to open a Swiss bank account in the name of the Legend Plus Capital Limited, with an official address in the BVI.
Bayartsogt told ICIJ that not all of the money in the Swiss account was his. He said the account was opened to trade in international stocks.
He said his investment into the account was $200,000 – profit derived from a family wheat business. Another $800,000 or so belonged, he said, to three "business friends" he didn't name. All but about $2,000 had since been withdrawn, he said.
"My friends told me: If you have extra profit, why not open an account? Our first intention was to have more than $1 million," he said.
"It was risky business but we wanted to try. Foreign banks came to Mongolia and invited us to invest abroad. I shouldn't have opened that account."
He acknowledged that he hasn't declared the offshore company or the Swiss account on disclosure statements required for Mongolian public officials. But he said he didn't use the offshore entities to avoid taxes because the venture didn't produce any income.
"I should have included the company in my declarations," he said. "We didn't even think of the tax issues. I am going to close it [the bank account] now."
Bayartsogt was at the forefront of encouraging foreign mining companies to move into Mongolia. For instance, he championed changes to tax laws and other concessions in 2011 that had been demanded by the multinational mining company Rio Tinto, based in Britain and Australia.
The changes reduced the benefits for Mongolia and increased the returns for Rio Tinto of a planned multi-billion dollar copper and gold mine at Oyu Tolgoi in the Gobi Desert.
There is no suggestion his public stance had anything to do with his private offshore activity, but his Swiss bank account and offshore company remained secret throughout his years as minister.
Profiles of leading secret account holders – The Guardian, April 3
Instant Analysis: S. Bayartsogt and the Next Oyu Tolgoi Crisis in the Making
April 4 (The Mongolist) The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a report today that may touch off another crisis surrounding the Oyu Tolgoi project. It has come to light that Deputy Speaker of Parliament S. Bayartsogt has maintained a secret Swiss account for an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands with as much USD 1 million (reports here and here). Mr. Bayartsogt was the Minister of Finance when the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) stability agreement was signed in October 2009, and in November of last year independent MP S. Ganbaatar challenged Mr. Bayartsogt to a nationally televised debate on the stability agreement and the OT project. These two men have become the public faces of the anti-OT and pro-OT crowds, respectively. This news about the account is a bombshell, and I presume PM Altankhuyag's government and Rio Tinto will in their own separate ways try to get ahead of this story and try to distance themselves from Mr. Bayartsogt as quickly as possible. Here are some contextual points to keep in mind as the story unfolds.
Mr. Bayartsogt was a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Finance from 2008-2012 in the grand coalition government initially formed by MPRP Prime Minister S. Bayar. He is currently the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and a member of the majority Democratic Party (DP). His direct involvement in the OT stability agreement negotiations, signature on the final document, and high-ranking position in parliament have made him an obvious political target for those displeased with the current agreement. There is no doubt that he had great influence in the shape of the agreement, but it is also important to remember that he was a member of a junior party in a coalition government at the time. His influence was likely constrained by many political factors, not least of all that the prime ministers during his tenure were members of the opposing party. There is a tendency in the local political discourse to smooth over the chaotic messiness of Mongolia's democracy by formulating convenient conspiracies and assigning superhuman influence to particular individuals. However, in this case it is hard to see how Mr. Bayartsogt can be implicated in doing wrong with regards to the OT agreement without dragging down with him the MPRP (now MPP) leadership and the DP leadership that were also members of that government. Mr. Bayartsogt's scandal makes others in the current government, in particular PM Altankhuyag who was Deputy Prime Minister under the previous coalition government, politically vulnerable.
The revelation that Mr. Bayartsogt kept an offshore account at this point is in itself only a potential violation of local anti-corruption disclosure rules and tax laws. As the Guardian newspaper notes here, having an offshore account is not necessarily evidence of wrongdoing (violations of local laws notwithstanding). It is just a highly suspicious activity. If the current government is truly serious about combating corruption, even the perception of corruption, then it is hard to see how Mr. Bayartsogt can keep his post without tarnishing the government and the rest of his party.
But, Mr. Bayartsogt's political future is less important than what his fall may mean in the on-going dispute between the government and Rio Tinto. Mr. Bayartsogt stood before the country on national television in the fall and attempted to persuade sceptics to trust that the OT project was good for Mongolia. This bombshell has exploded in the middle of an already politically tense situation, and this is like 'birthers' in the US suddenly learning that Hawaii may actually be a protectorate of Indonesia. It is the ultimate vindication of sceptics' distrust and suspicions about OT no matter how circumstantial or tenuous the evidence may be. The reaction of sceptics like Mr. Ganbaatar seem easy to predict going forward.
However, over the coming days as this plays out in the local media, I will be watching to see how the government and Rio Tinto react. They have different yet overlapping incentives to circle the waggons together and to sacrifice Mr. Bayartsogt by downplaying his importance and influence. The government has been sending signals over the last few weeks that it is interested in putting the most recent dispute behind it, and this scandal will potentially create another hard to control flare up if not handled properly. Obviously this is not good news for Rio Tinto, because the stink of Mr. Bayartsogt's scandal will easily cling to the OT project. But, I also don't see an upside to the government taking advantage of this situation in the continuing negotiations. As I noted above, many members of the government are also vulnerable to having the stink stick to them as well. This holds true for the opposition MPP which dominated the last government. The path to adequate damage control seems to be Mr. Bayartsogt falling on his own sword and resigning, while at the same time advocates for OT argue that Mr. Bayartsogt's scandal is unrelated to OT and that ultimately his overall influence has always been limited by the political reality of multi-party democracy. Two coalition governments, after all, under MPP and DP leadership have overseen the project to-date. Nevertheless, it is a potential public relations mess for the government and Rio Tinto, and it presents another significant challenge in an already strained relationship.
Here are some links with helpful background information:
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists method for the report - http://www.icij.org/offshore/how-icijs-project-team-analyzed-offshore-files
Mr. Bayartsogt's Official Bio - http://www.parliament.mn/who?type=2&cid=10
PM N. Altankhuyag's Official Bio - http://www.parliament.mn/who?type=3&cid=13
The Mongolist post on the debate between Mr. Bayartsogt and Mr. Ganbaatar - http://www.themongolist.com/blog/parliament/36-the-debate-november-23-2012.html
Thanks to Julian Dierkes over at Mongolia Today for bringing this story to my attention with a flurry of tweets this morning.
Mogi: groups trying to stop World Bank and EBRD from financing OT
OT Watch: Dr Kim, where is Mongolia's economic diversification?
April 2 (Bretton Woods Project) In late February the World Bank's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) boards decided to spearhead a $4 billion dollar syndicated loan to a copper, gold and silver mine located in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, which is also backed by a $1 billion political risks guarantee provided by the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Yet the details of this 10-year-old project are constantly changing, meaning that the Mongolian people do not know what or whom to believe. An increasing number believe that it is going to lead Mongolia to dependence on one product and one corporation, driving the country into deep insecurity.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC – 34 per cent owned by the government of Mongolia and 66 per cent by Rio Tinto - applied for the loan to complete its investment in the Oyu Tolgoi mine (see Update 84, 83, 82). In order to bring the mine to full operation it requires a $13.2 billion investment – triple the estimate given when it first negotiated a $4 - 5 billion investment with the Mongolian government." A concerning feature of this project is that the investment amount and the economic impact vary from document to document. The IFC's most recent document states that the investment requirement is $11.3 billion, while its summary of investment information states the project is "a $12 billion investment to develop a copper and gold mine".
The government of Mongolia is understandably worried about the cost overrun and increasing investment required to bring the mine to operation, potentially to reducing the benefits to the government and people. Since the investment requirement changed so drastically the government wants to re-negotiate the deal but the company refuses, accusing the government of 'resource nationalism'. Meanwhile, the country's over dependence on the minerals sector is aggressively pushing out its former core sectors: agriculture, tourism and light industry. If by 2020 Oyu Tolgoi will produce 35 per cent of Mongolia's GDP, how much will EBRD-funded Tavan Tolgoi, Tsagaan Suvraga, Erdenet and other Mongolian mega mines financed by IFIs contribute?
Donor funding is going either directly to financing mines or supporting its related industries, development of export-oriented infrastructure or financial services to extractives. The statement that donors and IFIs are supporting economic diversification and sustainable development is not supported by the relative amounts of money directed to finance these sectors. Compare the EU's €5 million ($6.5 million) country budget with the $350 million going to a single mine at Tsagaan Suvraga, or the $4 billion going to Oyu Tolgoi. This mega project has been shepherded by the World Bank since the early 2000s. The development policy advice strongly recommended economic diversification and legal reform to increase the country's competitiveness to attract large foreign direct investment; create an investor friendly environment by reducing red tape, combating corruption and easing the tax system.
Large mines tend to make promises to bring social development, better education and jobs. The IFC's project document claims that Oyu Tolgoi will spur investment in the Khanbogd Soum region including "$126 million in Mongolia's largest education and training programme. The training centre, built in 2011-2012 in Khanbogd, only houses Oyu Tolgoi's community relations office. Furthermore, a team of national and international civil society organisations and independent experts from several countries found the Oyu Tolgoi environmental and social impact assessment compiled and disclosed for the purpose of complying with the IFC Performance Standards completely inadequate (see Update 84).
At the time the World Bank started preaching economic diversification through large scale mining, mining was already producing 60 per cent of Mongolia's export earnings, which constituted most of government revenues. The government's diversification talk included developing a knowledge-based sector, IT development, out-sourcing, tourism and accessing high-end markets for its cashmere products. Today the so-called economic diversification leads to large mines taking away pasture from nomadic pastoralists, who constitute the backbone of Mongolia's livestock sector and employ 30 per cent of its workforce. Without pasture there is no nomadic livestock breeding as an economic sector. This livestock sector produces raw materials for light industry: cashmere, wool, meat and dairy production. Nomadic herders are also carriers of the ancient nomadic culture of the Mongols, which was one of the primary attractions of the tourism sector.
Where does the World Bank see the economic diversification in Mongolia that will ensure sustainable development? In order to bring this promised diversification and prevent Dutch disease, the World Bank should now lead the donors to match the funding amounts provided to the minerals and support sectors with financing to the core sectors, which together employ over 70 per cent of the country's workforce.
By Sukhgerel Dugersuren, Executive Director, Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
Mogi: another one of them
Rio Tinto and the Oyu Tolgoi mine
April 4 (New Internationalist) In March 2013, New Internationalist magazine carried an article on mining in Mongolia, including information about the Oyu Tolgoi project – but it did not mention that activity at the mine is controlled and operated by British-based mining multinational Rio Tinto, which has a history of involvement in projects associated with environmental destruction and abuse of workers' rights, indigenous peoples' rights and human rights in general.
London Mining Network has been working with Mongolian civil society organization Oyu Tolgoi Watch and other groups in Europe and North America to try to stop Rio Tinto and its financial backers from trampling on the rights of the communities affected by its operations in Mongolia. The company's approach to the traditional herders who are affected by their operations in Mongolia has been to deny that they are indigenous communities, as that would mean they have internationally recognized rights to free, prior informed consent.
The herders are now engaged in a difficult process of seeking help from the World Bank's Compliance Adviser Ombudsman with 'mediation', and an independent panel to be established to examine their case. The herders filed an earlier complaint about inadequate relocation and compensation which you can be read at the Ombudsman's website.
At the London Mining Network in 2012, we produced a review of Rio Tinto's wholly inadequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Oyu Tolgoi project developed it into a Key Recommendations report.
Rio Tinto's Mongolian subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources has been seeking massive loans to develop the mine. The big 'sell' on lending to a leading mining multinational such as Rio Tinto is that they will operate responsibly and sustainably. The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have been operating in Mongolia since 2006, and with Turquoise Hill since 2009. Both banks have approved huge loans to Oyu Tolgoi despite all the controversy over the mine's inadequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.
London Mining Network and others tried to persuade IFC and EBRD not to fund the project. As a result, the US representative on the World Bank's Board of Directors abstained, and expressed a number of concerns. Unfortunately, both banks decided to back the project, and we are now trying to make sure that they put strict conditions on their loans.
Sukhgerel Dugersuren, the Director of Oyu Tolgoi Watch, will be in London in mid-April 2013 to attend Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting and tell shareholders about the real impacts of its activities in Mongolia. You can hear Sukhgerel speak at the 'Stories of Resistance' event at Amnesty International UK on Monday 15 April. There will also be a demonstration outside the Rio Tinto AGM in London on Thursday 18 April, from 10 until 11am.
You can read a lot more about the Oyu Tolgoi project on the London Mining Network website.
The demonstration at the Rio Tinto AGM will be at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE.
Update from Mongolia: herders fear water impacts of Rio Tinto's river diversion – London Mining Network, April 3
Mogi: probably not even possible to do so
MP Ganbaatar to take Rio Tinto to International Court of Justice
April 2 (news.mn) MP S.Ganbaatar is to sue Rio Tinto in the International Court of Justice, the ICJ in Hague, according to a press conference held today, Tuesday April 2nd.
MP S.Ganbaatar explained about his reasoning saying "the UN released 1803 resolution declaring the sovereignty of developing countries based on mineral resources. According to UN General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVIII), of December 14th, 1962, natural resources belong to the people of the country. They don't belong to transnational corporations; they don't belong to the President of the country or to the politicians, but to people and the nation.
The ICJ has jurisdiction over the implementation of the resolution. Therefore we are to submit a claim to the ICC. We will also deliver a notice to the Secretary-General of the United Nations."
MP S.Ganbaatar said that investors of Oyu Tolgoi project failed to follow principles of good faith or fair practice when signing the Investment Agreement.
In addition it is claimed that Rio Tinto threatens the water resources of the Gobi.
Careful research by Mongolian water experts found that 35.4 million ML a year of water usage in the Oyu Tolgoi processing plant in its current capacity is in excess of the inferred underground water resources.
Mongolian experts calculated water usage in processing plant three at different variants of 37.8, 54.7 and 82.1 million ML. But the approved water resource for Oyu Tolgoi is 27.4 million ML.
Due to these issues MP S.Ganbaatar announced the intention to take Rio Tinto to the ICJ and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), delivering notes to the Geneva International Conference Centre.
Outperform recommendation for Rio on Oyu Tolgoi value – RBC analysts
April 4 (MetalBulletin) Analysts at RBC Capital markets have issued an outperform recommendation for Rio Tinto's stocks on the London Stock Exchange, based on the value for the company of the Oyu Tolgoi project.
An updated report on the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia emphasised its value to Rio Tinto, via subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources, as the net present value of the project has been given as $9.9 billion. The market should be aware of a dispute with the Mongolian government over Oyu Tolgoi, and of higher costs, which may overshadow the positive technical report on the project, the analysts said in a note on Thursday April 4. The ramp up of the project is dependent on satisfactory resolution of the dispute with the Mongolian government, which centres on attempts to change the 2012 investment agreement. A decision on phase 2 will be made after a review of the operation of phase 1, which has an estimated $5.1 billion capital expenditure, not including a power plant and expansion of the concentrator, at an extra cost of about $1.7 billion. Furthermore, the recent technical...
MUB closed -9.09% to 4c
MRC receives $2m at 2c subscription offer from AR Management, Board will not accept
April 3 -- The board of Mongolian Resource Corporation Limited (ASX:MUB) would like to inform the market that a subscription offer was received from AR Management Co. Pty Ltd (ARM) on 28th March, 2013 for the sum of US$2m dollars at A$0.02 (2 cents) ie 100m shares.
The board feels this is not in line with previously signed cooperation agreements held with ARM and will not be taking up the subscription. The board feels its current plans with funding from a local bank is sufficient and prefers not to dilute its shareholders at such a low price.
Mogi: Metals X Ltd subsidiary Chinggis Metals Pty Ltd wants to remove directors Jargalsaikhan Naidansuren, Tanan Jargalsaikhan, Galsanjamts Sereeter and Anthony Loyd Bainbridge. Metals X, according to last substantial holding notice, has a 15.33% stake in MUB
MRC: REQUISITION FOR GENERAL MEETING FROM SUBSTANTIAL SHAREHOLDER
April 3 -- Late on Tuesday 2 April 2013, Mongolian Resource Corporation Limited (ASX:MUB) , MUB was served with a notice requisitioning a general meeting of shareholders to consider the removal of all existing directors. Copy attached.
The Notice was from a shareholder holding more than 5.0% of the issued capital of the company.
The board of MUB will continue to communicate to shareholders with regards to the proposed General Meeting.
Erdene Provides Year-End Financial Results and Project Review
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - April 3, 2013) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. ("Erdene" or "Company") (TSX:ERD), today provided a review of the 2012 activities on the Company's principal projects in conjunction with the release of its year-end financial results.
2012 Quarterly Highlights
- First Quarter
n High Grade, Near Surface Gold Discovery at Altan Nar; 29m of 4.3 g/t Gold
n Granite Hill Quarry Commenced Production
n Erdene Board Strengthened
- Second Quarter
n Finalized Sale of Granite Hill Quarry for US$3.35 million
n Reported Xstrata's Intent to Sell Their Interest in Donkin Coal Project
n Expanded Size of Altan Nar Gold Discovery Through Drilling
n Announced Planned Restructuring of Company
- Third Quarter
n Secured Second Mining License for Zuun Mod-Khuvyn Khar Project
n Announced Planned CEO and Board for Newco - Morien Resources Corp.
n Completed Regional Metals and Coal Exploration in Mongolia
- Fourth Quarter
n Sold Operating Kaolin Assets of Controlled Subsidiary for $923,000
n Intersected 47m of 1.3 g/t Gold on 1.3km Step-Out Drill Hole at Altan Nar
n Completed Restructuring with Separation of Mongolian and North American Assets
n Completed Private Placement, limited to $1 million at $0.17 per share
Altan Nar Gold Project
The Altan Nar gold discovery was made in late 2011 following a large regional exploration program carried out by Erdene's technical team. Initial drill results from Altan Nar included 55 metres of 1.02 g/t gold and 12 g/t silver and follow up drilling intersected 29 metres averaging 4.3 g/t gold and 24.1 g/t silver, including 11 metres of 9.1 g/t gold and 22.7 g/t silver. The 2011 drilling confirmed the presence of near-surface gold-silver mineralization over a strike length of 300 metres, with widths up to 125 metres. This area is referred to as the Discovery Zone ("DZ").
Exploration work in 2012 expanded the DZ to 400 metres in strike length with near-surface holes in the northern portion returning 27 metres of 1.78 g/t gold, including 8 metres of 4.5 g/t gold and 25.4 g/t silver, and high grade gold mineralized zones at depth with 4 metres of 10.5 g/t gold and 55.5 g/t silver. The most northerly hole in the DZ returned 94 metres of 0.45 g/t gold and includes a 4.5 metre interval at the bottom of the hole averaging 2.4 g/t gold, 18.8 g/t silver, 2.80% lead and 0.86% zinc. The potential for higher grade zones at depth within the DZ was further supported by the project's deepest hole to date (approximately 191 metre vertical depth) which ended in 5 metres of 4.77 g/t gold, 6.0 g/t silver 0.52% lead and 0.59% zinc. These results confirm that the gold mineralization within the DZ is open to the north and continues to the depths tested and additional drilling will be required to determine the true vertical extent of the gold mineralization.
Reconnaissance drilling outside the DZ identified multiple new targets over a 3 kilometre strike length, including a substantial new gold-polymetallic zone intersected within 50 metres of surface, located 1.3 kilometres northwest of the DZ. Multiple high grade gold zones separated by post-mineralization dykes which, when included in the overall assay results, yielded an average grade of 1.3 g/t gold over 47 metres, including 4.4 g/t gold over 9 metres.
It is anticipated work at Altan Nar will commence in the second quarter leading to additional drilling in 2013.
Khuvyn Khar - Zuun Mod Copper & Molybdenum Project
In 2012, work was completed on a pit optimization study that included high level production scheduling, a review of operating and capital costs, and economic modeling. The study will be used to determine the parameters of additional pre-feasibility level studies expected to be carried out as the project advances. Although depressed molybdenum prices have resulted in a cautious approach to advancing the project, the location relative to China, large resource size, unexplored areas, a significant copper component in other areas of the porphyry complex, and positive longer term outlook for molybdenum demand and pricing, are all positive factors in evaluating the future potential of the project.
The Zuun Mod property covers a large porphyry system with multiple exploration targets. One such target is the Khuvyn Khar copper prospect located 2.2 kilometres northwest of the Zuun Mod molybdenum-copper deposit. In 2011, drilling at Khuvyn Khar intersected 34 metres of 1.3% copper and 9.24 g/t silver from 308 to 342 metres depth. The 2012 exploration program at Khuvyn Khar included a review of technical data, an expanded mobile metal ion ("MMI") geochemical survey, reprocessing of geophysical data, as well as a review of surface and drill hole geological data. This work has identified areas and criteria for a follow-up exploration program to be carried out in 2013 designed to test the mineral potential of the Khuvyn Khar prospect.
Altan Arrow Gold Project
Early stage surface exploration on a new prospect (Altan Arrow), located 15 kilometres south-southeast of the Company's Altan Nar gold discovery, has returned significant gold and silver mineralization associated with epithermal quartz veins over a one-square-kilometre area. Results include an average grade from rock chip samples over a 1 kilometre strike length of 3.5 g/t Au and 60 g/t Ag, including samples with up to 57 g/t Au and 416 g/t Ag.
Galshar Coal Project Royalty
The Company retains a royalty interest in the Galshar thermal coal project in Mongolia. The project is operated by Xanadu Coal Mongolia LLC ("Xanadu"), a 100% owned subsidiary of ASX listed Xanadu Mines Ltd. Xanadu has delineated a JORC compliant thermal coal resource of 70 million tonnes ("Mt") Indicated and 100 Mt Inferred. At Galshar, the basal seam, which contains a resource of 48 Mt Indicated and 53 Mt Inferred, is classified as medium to low ash, high moisture sub-bituminous coal suitable for power generation or Coal to Liquids (CTL) technologies. Xanadu has commenced the permit process to obtain a mining license at Galshar. The project is subject to a royalty payable to Erdene, its successors and assigns, of US$1.50 for each tonne of the first 5 Mt of coal mined from the property and a royalty of US$0.75 per tonne for any additional tonnes of coal mined.
MIG: RESIGNATION AND REDESIGNATION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BARRY LEUNG
April 3 -- The board of directors (the "Board") of Mongolia Investment Group Limited (the "Company," HK:402) announces that Mr. Leung, Chung Tak Barry ("Mr. Leung") has resigned as an executive director of the Company and also has resigned as director in all the subsidiaries of the Company with effect from 2 April 2013 due to his personal reason. Following Mr. Leung's resignation, he will be retained as a senior consultant to the Company;
Mr. Leung has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the Board and there is no matter relating to his resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company or The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
The Board takes this opportunity to express its appreciation to Mr. Leung for his valuable contributions during his tenure with the Company
MONGOLIAN STOCK EXCHANGE ENABLES REMOTE TRADING FOR BROKERS
April 2 (MSE) Since April 7, 2011 when the "Master Services Agreement" signed by State Property Committee of Mongolia, London Stock Exchange Group and "Mongolian Stock Exchange" JSC to develop domestic capital markets by cooperating in the strategic and management levels started, many targeted objectives have been performed and reported to the public regularly in due time.
Within the frame of implementing the agreement Millennium IT integrated trading platform along with T+3 clearing and settlement model have been installed and launched in the market. Today, remote trading which is one of the features of the platform is ready to take place in the market enabling brokers to trade from their offices.
Furthermore, based on this solution brokers will be able to take online orders from their clients in the near future by upgrading their internal back and front office systems.
BDSEC: GENIE OIL & GAS AND TOTAL COMPANIES PROPOSE TO MINE OIL SHALE IN MONGOLIA - MONGOLIA DAILY DIGEST
April 4 (BDSec) Minister of Mining has agreed to build trial oil processing plant with "Genie oil & Gas" company so that the oil product can be used by 2014-2015. If the trial plant becomes successful, it could possibly produce 6,700 tonnes of oil product, and some natural gas, oil, gas, synthetic gas. The plant needs USD 4 billion in financing. Genie Oil & Gas (U.S.) have researched in some regions (Dundgobi, Gobi-Altai, Dornod aimag etc.,) and considering to build the plant either in Tuv aimag or Dornogobi aimag.
In general, studies reveal that the Mongolia has vast oil shale reserve of premium quality. (unuudur p.B3)
MNCCI's Russian Cooperation Council had a meeting yesterday. (news.mn)
• A parliament member (DP) D.Erdenebat was chosen as a president of the council last month.
• The members discussed about cooperating with Russia in all sectors, and pushed the issue of making Altanbulag (near northern border) a free trade zone.
Tsagduultai Changes Company Name to Mongolia Development National Consortium (Mongolian Stock Exchange)
• Tsagduultai JSC's /MSE:HAM/ name changed to "Mongolia Development National Consortium" JSC and amendments have been made to its securities listing by Financial Regulatory Commission's /FRC/ resolution No.43 of 6th of February 2013 and the Mongolian Stock Exchange's CEO decree No.41 of 3rd of April 2013, which was issued based on the articles 50.3, 57 of Mongolian Stock Exchange's listing rules and the Company request.
Transneft seeking alternative routes for Chinese crude supplies (http://rbth.asia)
• Russian oil giant Transneft is eyeing Mongolia as a possible transit shortcut for crude oil supplies to China.
• The current Kazakhstan route could lose Russia up to $2.6 billion a year in export levy.
• Transneft will also look at delivering crude to Western China by rail via Mongolia, Demin says.
• Of the overall 7 million tonnes, 2 million would be sent to Daqing in China via the Zabaykalsk- Manzhouli border crossing, while the remaining 5 million tonnes would be channeled via the Naushki station on the Mongolian border.
MINISTER SAIKHANBILEG AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR PEABODY PARTICIPATION IN TAVAN TOLGOI
April 4 (InfoMongolia) On April 04, 2013, Minister of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Mongolia Chimed SAIKHANBILEG received at his office Mr. Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the Department of Commerce of the United States to discuss mutual cooperation on trade and economy.
At the beginning of the meeting Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg noted that the United States of America has been one of the important foreign trade partners of Mongolia since its transition to a market economy and democracy, and further emphasized to strengthen bilateral talks on trade and economy.
Also, Minister expressed his readiness to collaborate with companies from the United States in the sectors of investment, particularly to cooperate with experienced companies to explore and exploit shale. Moreover, he affirmed to support initiation proposed by US Peabody Energy Corporation on cooperation in developing the Tavan Tolgoi site, renewable energy and coal extraction.
In addition, Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg said that the Government of Mongolia is working to build convenient environment on trade and investment for local and foreign investors. Although the Parliament of Mongolia will be discussing to amend the Law on Regulation of the Foreign Investments in the Strategically Significant Industries during upcoming spring plenary session meetings, thereby the threshold of 100 billion MNT of investments will be dropped and only in the case of the investor's share to own is beyond the 49% of total investments, which is considered to Joint Stock Companies or companies with stateparticipations, will be discussed through the Parliament.
In respond, Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez expressed his satisfaction on upcoming changes to the Law on Regulation of the Foreign Investments and noted to broaden economical partnerships between the two countries.
Francisco J. Sanchez
BDSec Daily Trading Update: ULAANBAATAR HOTEL (ULN) REACHES ALL-TIME HIGH: MNT 95,040
3 April 2013, Wednesday (BDSec) – Mongolia stocks fell further on Wednesday amid low liquidity. Trading turnover was light at MNT 17.49 million or USD 12.5 thousand. Baganuur (BAN), the largest thermal coal producer of Mongolia that produces 3.4 million tonnes of coal per year, rebounded 2.38 percent to close at MNT 4,300 after three consecutive days of trading in the red.
Ulaanbaatar Hotel's (ULN) stock price surpassed MNT 95,000 per share for the first time on Wednesday.
Tavantolgoi (TTL) once again lost more than 5 percent, pulling down the overall performance of the market. Other notable decliners were Ulaanbaatar BUK (-5.27%), Gutal (-5.00%), Mongol Savkhi (-4.83%) and State Department Store (-2.63%).
BDSec Daily Trading Update: MSE TOP 20 HITS 26-MONTH LOW
2 April 2013, Tuesday (BDSec) – MSE Top 20 slumped to a 26-month low on Tuesday, led by declines in coal mining companies. Most MSE-listed coal miners performed not well during the trading session with Sharyn Gol (SHG), Baganuur (BAN), Aduunchuluun (ADL), Tavantolgoi (TTL) and Mogoin Gol (BDL) dropping 1.23 percent to 14.29 percent.
Winning stocks were Mongol Savkhi (+11.54%), Makh Impex (+2.86%), State Department Store (+2.70%), Bayangol Hotel (+2.50%), Hermes (+1.86%), and APU (+0.46%).
Trading value was low at MNT 24.6 million or USD 17.6 thousand.
BDSec Daily Trading Update: B BOARD COMPANIES WERE RELATIVELY ACTIVE ON MONDAY
1 April 2013, Monday (BDSec) – Share prices declined across the A Board at MSE at the opening session of the week. MSE Top 20 was down 158.95 points, or 1.02 percent, at 15,383.29. Out of 29 stock traded, prices of 11 fell, 7 rose, and 11 remained same.
B Board companies were relatively active for the day. Mongoli Keramik (KEK) and Silikat (SIL) were among the most actively traded stocks with more than 57 thousand shares traded.
Atar Urguu (ATR), Baganuur (BAN), BDSec (BDS), Tavantolgoi (TTL), State Department Store (UID) and Khukh Gan (HGN) fell 2 to 4 percent.
FRC REVOKES iTRADE LLC'S INVESTMENT ADVISORY LICENSE
April 3 (MSE) "I Trade" LLC is a licensed member of the Mongolian Stock Exchange and operates as broker, dealer and investment advisor. The company's license for investment advisor operations in securities market has been revoked by the Financial Regulatory Commission's resolution No.:136 of 27 March, 2013.
BoM holds FX auction
April 2 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on April 2nd, 2013 the BOM received from local commercial banks total bid offers of 34.7 million USD and 103 million CNY. BOM has sold 17.35 million USD as closing rate of 1411 MNT and 103 million CNY as closing rate of 226.51.
On April 2nd, 2013, The BOM received MNT Swap agreement offer in equivalent to 149.2 million USD and 10 million USD from domestic commercial banks. BOM has sold 138.3 million USD by swap agreement.
BoM Balance of Payments Analytic – First Two Months 2013
April 3 (Bank of Mongolia) --
BoM issues 1-week bills
April 3 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 223.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Summary of the Government Bills Auction held on March 27th, 2013
March 27 (Ministry of Finance) Total of 70.0 billion tugrik bills was announced to be sold on this auction, 70,000 quantities with 12 week maturity. Bids received totaled 71.0 billion tugriks and 70.0 billion tugrik bills were sold successfully at weighted average interest rate of 10.05.
NEW RAILWAY PROJECT NEEDS 22 THOUSAND TRAINED WORKERS
Ulaanbaatar, April 4 /MONTSAME/ According to calculations, a "New Railway" project will demand some 22 thous. trained workers to run one thous. 100 kilometers of horizontal axis. After the implementation, some five thous. jobs will be created.
The state policy on railways, approved in 2011, has clauses about constructing in three phases five thous. 630 kilometers base railway structure. The feasibility study is ready for the first two stages where over 1,800 kilometers wil berun in several directions--Tava tolgoi-Sainshand, Sainshand--Baruun-Urt, Baruun-Urt--Khoot, Khoot-Choibalsan, Khoot--Bichigt, Khoot-Nomrog, Tavan tolgoi-Gashuunsukhait.
By the "Mongolian Railway" state-owned company's feasibility study, the project needs USD 5.2 billion. As known, the government resolved that the Development Bank will issue USD 200 million.
Link to article (click English and try link again)
MPP reported to hold demonstration on first day of spring session tomorrow
April 4 (news.mn) MPP is reportedly to organize a peaceful demonstration on Sukhbaatar Square on Friday April 5th.
This is the same day as the beginning of the spring session of Parliament.
The party is holding the demonstration in the name of basic civil rights to live in safe conditions and to have accommodation provided by the Constitutional law which they claim is being violated in the country.
Supporters and members of the Party, members of the Party Conference, the Monitoring Chamber, youth and student organizations, women's groups and NGOs will take part in the demonstration. Demonstrators will demand that the Government restrict consumer goods price increases, cancel the ban on internet comment restrictions, halt violations by the legislature, continue with the "100 thousand apartment project" and to increase the minimum labor wage and pensions.
MONGOLIA- SINGAPORE BUSINESS FORUM HELD
Ulaanbaatar, April 3 /MONTSAME/ Mongolia and Singapore business forum has taken place as outcome of the Deputy Foreign Minister D.Gankhuyag's visit to this country.
It has been Initiated by the Ambassador of Mongolia to Singapore B.Delgermaa. She has addressed the gathering together with Tan Bob, the honorary treasurer of the Singapore Business Federation /SBF/. They have stressed that this forum is important for expanding of an economic and business cooperation in urbanization, planning, and tourism sectors.
Ms Delgermaa spoke about Mongolia's economics, Government's policies on investment.
In the forum have participated 140 delegates representing Singaporean government and private sectors.
The both sides have said that the forum reached its goals.
Link to article (click English and try link again)
Taiwan lawmakers voice worries about hurting ties with Mongolia after
BRAVE FACE: The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission minister remained upbeat despite saying the merger of her agency with the Mainland Affairs Council was not ideal
April 4 (Taipei Times) Lawmakers across party lines yesterday voiced concerns over Taiwan's future exchanges with Mongolia once the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission is merged into the Mainland Affairs Council, fearing that the Mongolian government may suspect that Taiwan considers Mongolia to be part of China.
"Relations between Taiwan and Mongolia have improved greatly in recent years. However, I am concerned about what may happen when the commission is merged with the council, since the relationship between Taiwan and Mongolia should be a diplomatic issue, not a cross-strait issue," Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said during a question-and-answer session at the legislature's Internal Administration Committee.
"I think it's more appropriate to merge the commission into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the council," he said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) asked whether the government would have to make contact with Mongolia through the Straits Exchange Foundation after the merger.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) and Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) raised similar doubts.
"The relationship between Taiwan and Mongolia is between two countries, and we all agree that Mongolia is an independent country," Chiang said. (Mogi: progress I guess)
"Wouldn't the Mongolian government be concerned that we consider it to be part of China, when the government agency in charge of Taiwan-Mongolia exchanges is now a subordinate department of the Mainland Affairs Council?" he asked.
Responding to the lawmakers comments, Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission Minister Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said she agreed that the situation was not ideal, however, the commission is making arrangements to ensure that things run smoothly following the merger.
"The function of the commission is complicated. We deal with diplomatic, cross-strait and domestic issues," Lo said.
"Dealing with Mongolia or Mongolian republics within the Russian Federation is a diplomatic issue, exchanges with Mongolian and Tibetan regions in China are cross-strait issues, but serving Mongolian and Tibetan populations in this country is a domestic issue," she said.
The commission is working with the relevant agencies when handling different issues, Lo said.
For instance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is talking with Mongolia about a visa-waiver program, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is dealing with economic exchanges with Mongolia, while the Ministry of Education may handle student exchange programs, Lo said.
"We have better connections with Mongolian and Tibetan regions, thus we're serving as a platform to assist different government agencies when dealing with different issues concerning Mongolians and Tibetans," Lo said.
Japan: Cooperation with Mongolia
April 4 (The Japan Times) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his visit to Ulan Bator on March 30 agreed with Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag and President Tsakhia Elbegdorj to promote bilateral cooperation in the fields of mineral resources development, trade relations and the environment. They also agreed to launch a trilateral framework consisting of Japan, Mongolia and the United States for policy discussions.
Apparently Mr. Abe wants to push Asia diplomacy by forging strong ties with Mongolia, which borders China to the south and Russia to the north and has diplomatic relations with North Korea.
He is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Mongolia since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the country in 2006. Back in Tokyo, he said that Japan "attaches importance to relations with countries which share the same values such as the rule of law and basic human rights."
His visit shows that he is trying to counter China's moves to increase its influence in Mongolia and other parts of Asia. But he must keep in mind that unless he improves Japan's relations with China, which have deteriorated due to a dispute over the sovereignty issue involving the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the situation in this region will not be stabilized.
Mongolia, with a population of some 2.84 million people (Mogi: Bravo for getting it close to the actual number, instead of the lazy "less than 3m"), has a land area about four times the size of Japan. It has large deposits of coal, copper, gold and uranium. It is also believed to be rich in rare metals and rare earths. China is Mongol's No. 1 trade partner, with about 90 percent of Mongol's exports going there. Chinese firms are stepping up efforts to acquire firms owning the right of management over Mongolian mines. The possibility cannot be ruled out that Chinese firms will take control of transactions involving coal, iron ore, crude oil and other natural resources from Mongolia.
Mongolia's one-party communist rule collapsed in 1990 and the country's democratization has made progress. Mongolia faced an economic crisis when the prices of natural resources plummeted due to the 2008 global financial crisis, but China's rapid growth helped to revive its economy.
Mongolia has been trying to strengthen its ties with Japan, which it regards as its "third neighbor." If Mongolia can build stronger trade ties with Japan, it can reduce its dependence on China, and to some extent Russia as well, which is Mongolia's No. 2 trading partner. Japan needs Mongolia's natural resources while Mongolia needs Japan's technology and capital. As Prime Minister Abe has stated, Mongolian-Japanese cooperation in the development of Mongolia's natural resources is a "win-win scenario." Japan and Mongolia also agreed to hold talks in Ulan Bator (Mogi: pity) this month for an economic partnership agreement.
China is nervously watching the deepening of ties between Japan and Mongolia. It is all the more important for Mr. Abe to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an early date to lay the foundation for solving the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.
Mongolia-China joint Science and Technology Committee
April 2 (news.mn) The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, L.Gantumur, has agreed to establish a joint Science and Technology Committee with China during his official visit in China on March 25th and 26th.
The Committee will focus on sharing experiences and launching Mongolia-China joint research projects.
During his visit the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, L.Gantumur, stated that Mongolia is ready to cooperate on a joint project on agriculture, biology, biotechnics, electronic technology, medicine, renewable energy, geology and the geography sector with China.
Minister L.Gantumur also offered the suggestion to the Chinese Education Minister to cooperate on providing qualified skilled personnel in highly demanded sectors such as mining, science, infrastructure, environment protection, veterinary, engineering and technology, spending effectively the scholarships granted by the Chinese Government.
Opening ceremony of Ankara Street to be held
April 4 (news.mn) Ankara Street on Baga Toiruu has been furnished with the funds from Ankara City and will be opened on April 12th.
The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, might be present at the opening ceremony of Ankara Street on Baga toiruu as part of his visit in Mongolia. Because of sister city ties between Ulaanbaatar and Ankara, Ankara City`s Representative Board reached a decision to furnish a street on Baga Toiruu from Zoos Goyol to the Mongolian State University of Culture and Arts in Ulaanbaatar city using its own funds.
Both sides signed in 2010 to finance 700 thousand US dollars for the furnishing of Ankara Street, which covers 2.8 hectares.
The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency, the official sponsor announced a tender for the re-construction.
Tender winners Anchera LLC and Karie LLC as have been working on the re-construction work since July 2011.
During this period many transformations have been made including a green area, sidewalks, NAZAR symbolized fountain in front of 5th Secondary school named after Atatьrk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, a leisure square and lighting in the street.
Consult Expo-2013 will be held at Blue Sky Tower
April 4 (Business-Mongolia.com) Consult Expo-2013 will be held for two days from April 5 to 6 at Blue Sky Tower. This expo has jointly organized by Institute of Mongolian Management Consultants and EBRD's Business Advice Programme and it is being held for the first time in Mongolia, with around 50 participants from the consultants and experts in the following consulting areas: management, marketing, financing, IT, engineering, and environment.
The goal of this expo-forum was to contribute to the development of the market of professional consulting services, ensure a practical opportunity to improve quality, effectiveness of companies' work in all business spheres and linking the private sector and consultants. Consult Expo included an extensive business program which consisted of workshops, presentations, and roundtables.
President issues resolution to enhance livelihood of Tsaatan reindeer people
April 4 (UB Post) President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj made a resolution on March 29 regarding the reindeer people who live in the taiga of Tsagaannuur Soum in Khuvsgul Province. The resolution was approved with the intention to enhance the livelihood of the local reindeer herders; to improve their health, education, and social welfare; and to revive reindeer husbandry. Directives have been given to the government to take certain measures to accelerate the implementation of this program officially named, "To Revive Reindeer Husbandry, To Enhance the Livelihood of Reindeer People."
Legal Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia Ch.Unubayar handed the resolution to Minister of Population Development and Social Welfare S.Erdene.
During the meeting with Minister S.Erdene, Legal Policy Advisor Ch.Unubayar said, "The President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, visited Tsagaannuur Soum in Khuvsgul Province last December 22, 2012 and he got acquainted with the lives of local reindeer herders. During the President's visit, many issues related to preserving and protecting the rights of the reindeer people were raised such as the rights to be educated, to be informed in their native language, to receive adequate health care, etc. The President took this matter seriously into account and has accordingly issued a resolution. He is of the belief that we cannot ignore our ethnic minority."
"The Ministry of Population Development and Social Welfare plays a major role in the issues related to human rights, livelihood, and health. Thus, the resolution is being submitted to the heads of relevant ministries," added Ch.Unubayar.
Upon receiving the President's resolution, Minister S.Erdene conveyed that his office will work in accordance with the specified plans and programs based on valid research and will appoint a working group to implement them. He said, "We are working with the intention to establish a system which makes sure that a certain percent of economic growth benefits the citizens and which devotes a certain part of wealth creation towards the development of the population. The pressing issues of the reindeer people, related to their education, livelihood, and healthcare, are included in our intention".
The previous government did have specific policies directed for the reindeer people. However, they were not properly implemented and not oriented towards individual herders. This is actually the first time that the President of Mongolia issued such a policy resolution that directly benefits the reindeer herders, informed the Briefing Center of the Office of the President.
Asia Foundation: Despite Odds, Mongolians Hopeful for a Less Corrupt Society
April 3 (The Asia Foundation) Recent reforms in legislation and institutions have helped demonstrate Mongolia's strong commitment to combating corruption, and the effects are noticeable in some areas: in Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, Mongolia's ranking improved from 120 to 94, up 26 places from 2011. Still, corruption remains an area of great concern, and, according to a new survey released on April 3 by The Asia Foundation in Ulaanbaatar, a significant threat to the quality of governance.
The "Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption" (SPEAK), conducted in partnership with the Sant Maral Foundation, surveyed 1,360 households in seven districts of Ulaanbaatar and 21 soums (districts) of 6 aimags (provinces) representing the four regions of Mongolia. The survey measured corruption levels in Mongolia by capturing data on public perceptions and grand corruption, institutional behaviors, as well as people's actual experience with corruption at the household level. Importantly, the survey for the first time included questions on grand corruption, and builds on earlier benchmarking studies started by the Foundation in 2006 and conducted 11 time since then. As such, the survey serves as a barometer of people's perceptions and experiences over time, and will provide useful input for policy deliberations as Mongolia prepares to revise its mid-term anti-corruption strategy (the draft of which is now under discussion). The findings will also help to develop a more contextual understanding of corruption and its damaging consequences, as well as build political consensus on the challenges and obstacles ahead.
According to the survey findings, while 89 percent of the respondents say corruption is a common occurrence in the country, corruption has clearly declined as a matter of concern among respondents. Back in 2006, 29 percent of respondents ranked corruption as one of the top concerns, making it the second most important issue, while in 2012, just 8 percent did, making it the fifth most important concern after unemployment, poverty, ecological degeneration, and inflation.
The majority of the respondents said that using official positions to collect gifts or money and help friends or relatives are the most common types of corruption (83 and 84%, respectively). Yet 28 percent of respondents said distributing gifts and money during election campaigning does not constitute corruption, despite the practice being prohibited by the new law on elections.
Respondents said the two most corrupt sectors are "land and property" and "mining." Among government institutions, findings indicate that citizens have gained more confidence in the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC). The number of people who said they preferred the IAAC as the leader in fighting corruption increased from 35.8 percent in an April 2011 survey to 44 percent in November 2012. Sixty percent of respondents said they would report a corruption case if their identities were kept anonymous, while only 17 percent would do so regardless of such protection. This indicates that if the current law (which requires people who report corruption to reveal their identities) were revised, that there would likely be a substantial increase in the number of corruption cases reported.
Eighty-one percent of respondents said that corruption impacted their personal or family life in one form or another, such as their standard of living and the rising price of commodities. The survey also found that 93 percent of respondents said that they should "do something" about corruption. At the same time, the majority said they were unaware of important anti-corruption measures in place. For example, only 29 percent of respondents were aware of the IAAC's anti-corruption telephone hotline, which normally plays a major role in prompting citizens' actions. Similarly, when asked whether they would pay a bribe if approached, while many said they would not pay, or in fact they would report it (35 and 17%, respectively), there were still many (24%) who said they would pay one if they had the money. These responses have remained more or less consistent since 2006.
Based on the respondents' reported experience, it seems that fewer people are now paying bribes. Only 12 percent of the people surveyed said they paid some form of bribe in 2012, a significant decline from 2006, when it was 28 percent. However, while there are fewer bribes, the average size of the bribe has increased from MNT 136,000 ($97) in 2006 to 391,000 ($280) in 2012. Of those who paid a bribe in 2012, 56 percent said they did so to obtain the services they are already entitled to and 25 percent paid to overcome bureaucratic hurdles.
The survey did not find major variations statistically when data were segregated by gender or urban-rural categories. That said, female respondents were more inclined to choose the "I don't know" or "neutral" categories and avoided answers to strong statements or questions such as "will you report?" The overall good news is that there has been a tremendous sense of hope and optimism among respondents that the fight against corruption will succeed rather than fail. Only a small number of those surveyed (8%) responded that corruption will increase in the next three years. Some progress to prevent and combat corruption is evident and the credit should be given to the political leadership and anti-corruption institutions for their strong commitment to address the issue.
The Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK) was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of The Asia Foundation's Strengthening Transparency and Governance in Mongolia (STAGE) program, which aims to strengthen democratic governance by building a more transparent and accountable regulatory and legislative environment while promoting principles of checks and balances. Read more about the program.
Basanta Pokharel is The Asia Foundation's chief of party for the STAGE program in Mongolia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.
The Asia Foundation Releases USAID-Funded Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK) – The Asia Foundation, April 3
Mogi: a lobbyist for US businesses in Mongolia
Lobbyist profile: James Harris
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., April 3 (The Missouri Times) — From working the halls of the Missouri Capitol, to monitoring the government in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, James Harris has taken his political expertise to an international stage.
A 2000 graduate of St. Louis University with a degree in Business Administration, Harris got his start in Missouri politics working as political director for Matt Blunt's 2004 campaign. After winning 101 of the state's 114 counties, Blunt appointed Harris director of Boards and Commissions, a powerful post where Harris learned the ins and outs of state government.
Harris founded his firm, The J. Harris Company, LLC., in 2006 after he left the post.
"I thought that I could impact public policy more from the outside, and also work on lots of different projects," he said. "I love to have 10 different pots on the stove."
Currently, Harris is involved in multiple lobbing efforts, including extension of the land assemblage tax credits for Paul McKee's NorthSide regeneration efforts, the various tax credit bills, efforts to change Missouri's judicial selection process, and doing work for the Humane Society of the United States.
Harris, who also works as a campaign consultant, admits he has taken flack from Republicans for his work on issues for the HSUS, but believes it is the right thing to do.
"I do see abused animals. I have a soft spot," he said, adding that he developed it as a kid. During Junior High, he said his father adopted an abused horse.
"I had never seen such a malnourished and abused horse," he said. "When you say skin and bones, that'd be generous. I sit through these committee hearings and they say, 'that stuff doesn't happen.' It does."
Harris said there is a Republican case for working on behalf of groups promoting standards for treatment of animals that does not have to be demagogued as "anti-farm." The divide among Republicans may correlate with an internal urban verses rural divide, where urban and national Republicans are more willing to be supportive of HSUS's causes.
"Teddy Roosevelt was a conservationist. I don't think that makes him not a Republican," he said. "I get in a little trouble for it, but I believe there are certain morals, certain rights out there, and it is common sense."
For instance, Harris said he believes consumers would be willing to pay more for a pet if companies would develop business models that tout their production process, similar to what grocery stores like Whole Foods do.
"Consumers will pay more for services. I think a lot of breeders haven't developed a plan to help them add value with certain standards. They could probably gain more money and ultimately take better care of their dogs."
In addition to his work in Jefferson City, Harris is also heavily involved in Mongolian politics. During 2009, he served as an election observer during Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's — the country's first president not from the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, a major power shift for the developing nation. Harris said his time there has made him truly appreciate being an American and capitalism.
"We see poverty and people working hard and wanting to succeed," he said. "You can tell that change to capitalism from communism, they want to succeed. It is an exciting time to be involved and helping businesses over there."
Harris said part of his role there now is helping American businesses navigate the regulatory environment in the nation — a place he sees as a major opportunity for American because it is "the Saudi Arabia of minerals."
"They have the world's second largest deposit of coal, third largest deposit of copper, massive deposits of gold, all these other minerals, and their country is in transition," he said. "Western companies, U.S. companies specifically, always think everyone should act and work in their terms, and sometimes they need help bridging the culture divide and understanding the dynamics of the country."
In Mongolia, Harris said his political skills have helped him build relationships with various members of parliament. American businesses, he said, need to be patient and build trust with officials so that they can make their case that their operation in the country is good for the citizens, not just the company.
Back home, Harris believes lobbying will increasingly be based on grassroots support, particularly in the era of term limits. Labor groups and gay rights groups, just last week, flooded the capitol with supporters.
"In the era of term limits, sometimes lawmakers, particularly in the House, take a little longer to learn the legislative process, so you have to really grasp the issues and know all the different sides of the issue."
During his free time, Harris says he likes to spend time with his wife, Jillian, his four year old daughter and six month old son. Harris likes to read, appreciate fine wines, and golf. When asked whether he had a favorite restaurant in Jefferson City, Harris quickly replied: "My wife's kitchen."
"I'm a food snob. My wife is a gourmet cook. She's got me to a point where I do not want to eat out," he said. When they do eat out, Harris — an enthusiast for French and Italian wines — said they like to travel to St. Louis.
"I'm probably boring," he said, but does golf from time to time. "I'm trying to play golf. My wife is better at it than I am. I'm trying to learn and spend more time with it."
Save the Children: Rapid Assessment of Humanitarian Child Protection Mongolia January - February 2013
February 28 (Save the Children via ReliefWeb) --
2A. Overview of context in Mongolia
Mongolia is situated in the north-east of Asia, bordering Russia in the north, and the People's Republic of China in the south. It is ranked 110 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index and is classified by the United Nations Development Programme as middle income. With a population of 2.75 million people (33% below the age of 18), it is the most sparsely populated country in the world, and is also the second largest landlocked country in the world.
Mongolia is a country that continues to experience cycles of socio-economic and political transition. As a former socialist state, the government changed to multi-party democratic rule following a revolution in 1990 and began the transition from central control to a free-market economy. While herding and agriculture remain the backbone of the rural economy with about 30% of the population herding livestock, the mining industry now constitutes over 1/5th of the national gross domestic product. The sale of cashmere and wool provide a link between rural economies and manufacturing and export industries. Child focused development indicators such as child mortality and school enrolment rates demonstrate significant progress over time and highlight the government's commitment to the social aspects of development. However, positive economic progress masks growing inequality: almost 40% of the population is considered to be poor, with poverty concentrated in rural areas. Climate change, degradation of natural resources, and a subsequent increase in 'natural' disasters such as drought, dzuds, fires and floods, have undermined the rural economy and promoted a process of rapid urbanisation: 57% of the population live in urban areas, with 1.2 million living in the capital city – Ulaanbaatar.4
Mongolia is therefore facing the challenge of promoting livelihoods diversification for rural populations while protecting the environment, and balancing economic growth with sustainable use of its natural resources. The impact of natural disasters such as dzuds can be seen as symptomatic of the challenges in managing these difficult transitional dynamics.
2B. 'Dzuds' and the emergency preparedness and response mechanism
On 3 January 2013, the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) issued a 'dzud' warning for 15 out of 21 aimags (provinces) across Mongolia. A dzud can be defined as a set of disadvantageous weather conditions – typically in which summer drought is compounded by a harsh winter and heavy snowfall - and the subsequent impact that this has on the survival of livestock. As such a dzud is a slow onset disaster that overwhelms the traditional coping capacities of pastoral communities, and increases vulnerability by undermining livelihoods. Measures may be taken to prevent the dzuds becoming a crisis if early warning systems are sufficient to predict it, and preventative measures are taken.
Mongolia previously experienced dzuds in the winters of 1999/2000 and 2009/10. The most recent dzud in 2009/10 resulted in the loss of nearly a fifth of the nation's livestock with nearly 9,000 herder households losing their entire livestock and many thousands more losing the majority of their animals5. At this time, the government came under criticism for evaluating the impact of the dzud in terms of numbers of livestock lost and framing a response around re-stocking, rather than focusing on and responding to the human impact of the crisis. A rise in maternal and infant mortality in dzud-affected areas during 2010 demonstrates the profound impact of the dzud on nutrition and health. Additionally, many children living in school dormitories at soum and aimag centres were unable to return to their homes in inaccessible rural areas during the school holidays, and many schools ran out of fuel and food supplies with which to support them.
Save the Children: Shifting Livelihoods: Trends of Pastoralist Drop-Out and Rural to Urban Migration in Mongolia
March 31 (Save the Children via ReliefWeb) --
"Pastoralist drop-out" – an abrupt cessation of traditional pastoralist livelihood activities, whether dictated by circumstance or more voluntary in nature – and the subsequent rural to urban migration that it entails has been rapidly increasing in Mongolia over the past two decades. This relatively new phenomenon is accompanied by profound and comprehensive demographic, socio-economic, and socio-cultural changes. This increasingly apparent and problematic shift is sure to have lasting implications for Mongolian society.
Mongolians have been "a mobile people" for millennia. Virtually every aspect of the established Mongolian society has been influenced to some extent by a strong tradition of nomadic-pastoralist livelihoods. Modern diets, social ceremonies, cultural identity, and even the tourist industry all have their roots in a longstanding nomadic lifestyle.
More recently, however, "Mongolian mobility" has taken on a new dimension. Rural to urban migration has been one of the defining demographic trends of Mongolia for nearly a half century; however, during the two decades since the end of the socialist era, the rate has increased enormously. While rural to urban migration in more industrial countries may be linked to economic development and rising affluence, Mongolia's trend in urbanisation is much more strongly correlated to increasing vulnerability resulting from a progressive deterioration of rural livelihoods systems, most notably the livestock sector. In a sense, rural to urban migration is driven by long-term, slowonset stress migration, resulting from a lack of viable livelihood options in rural areas.
The declining productivity of the pastoralist livelihood system is frequently amplified by natural disasters, most notably drought and dzuds, which result in periodic surges in rural to urban migration rates – most recently following the dzuds of the late 1990s and early 2000s and again in 2009-2010. With 1.3 million currently living in the capital, or just under half of the entire population, the city is continually expanding as "ger districts", the Mongolian form of slums, spread haphazardly into the surrounding hills. Ulaanbaatar's growth rates were miniscule through the 1940's. The first major wave of rural to urban migration did not occur until the late 1950's (due to the socialist state's need for certain human resources in certain sectors) and the numbers of new arrivals has continued to rise in every decade since.
Slideshow: Ending Measles in Mongolia
UNICEF is a leader in the Measles & Rubella Initiative, a global partnership that has helped reduce measles deaths by 71 percent since 2001. A 2012 immunization campaign against measles and rubella in Mongolia extended into the country's most remote areas and immunized over 95 percent of the targeted children.
15 member team commissioned by Altankhuyag sets out to find the origin of Mongols
April 2 (news.mn) A team consisting of 15 scientists including historians, ethnographers, geneticists, anthropologists, archeologists and linguists are to launch the project "How the Mongol origins and Mongolian nation was created" with the backing of the Prime Minister of Mongolia.
Mongolians, who have an incredible history going back 2200 years, are the great ancestors of Asian people. Mongolia is the cradle where ancient nomads lived and survived.
The latest study shows that our ancestors settled in the Mongolian land around 800 thousand years ago. But there is still no clear concept about how Mongol origin people came into being except a few theories by some scientists.
The issue of any people's origin is a main topic and interest of the country`s history and ethnicity.
A team of scientists believe making the way on the study is vital to opening doorways to other studies.
When the project is completed successfully scientists will create a new scientific ideology about how the Mongolian nations and the Mongol origin people were created.
School books, handbook and the curriculum in every level of schools will be based on these theories.
Searching for the Wolverines of Mongolia
April 4 (National Geographic) Where would you go to track down the largest weasel known to man, the wolverine? Don't forget to take into consideration its sharp teeth and claws, its fierce hunting abilities, and its propensity for remote environments.
National Geographic grantee Gregg Trenish and his team decided to travel to a vast region in northern Mongolia known as the Darhad, to learn as much as possible about the powerfully built, and well-adapted for winter, wolverine. Specifically, they are gathering DNA evidence to analyze so that, in the end, a conservation plan can be created for these creatures. The challenges involved in tracking this elusive creature include: driving across a frozen river, skiing in snow that has the consistency of sugar, carrying your food, and ensuring you have the correct paperwork for border crossings.
The last few days, the team reports, they have been tremendously successful at locating scat and hairs from the wolverine. As team member Jim Harris says, "It's really exciting to find that much wolverine evidence…We've seen tracks everyday and found wolverine scat everyday. It's beyond anyone's expectations."
Some biologists, prior to this excursion, felt that this region, when compared to similar environments in North America, did not contain as many wild creatures. But, as expedition member and environmental scientist Rebecca Watters observes, "…an hour into our first day tracking we are seeing a lot of signs of other wildlife. Gregg found some lynx track, and we're seeing lots of wolf [tracks], fox [tracks], and tons of hair. We also saw a lot of ptarmigan (the actual birds, not the tracks). Found couple of kill sites, where …musk deer had been killed and dragged away."
In addition the successful animal interactions, the team also has been experiencing the hospitality and wildlife knowledge of the nomadic people of the Darhad. "When we were coming up Jigleg Pass, we stopped and had tea with a herder," Watters says, "He told me he had seen wolverine tracks up Jigleg Pass during the winter and here's the wolverine! So, this validates to me that Mongolians really, really know their wildlife well, and there's a lot we can learn from asking them."
Harvard Soundbytes: Mongolia's painful past
April 4 (Harvard University) --
This set contains 3 sounds, total time: 3.15
· Mongolian language pamphlet (left image)
· Border conflict (center image)
· Liquorice extraction (right image)
Ariunaa Suri At Tokyo Fashion Week
March 25 (2threads) For her first time showing at Tokyo Fashion Week (another Mercedez-Benz favourite of ours), Ariunaa Suri did well with her fall 2013 collection. An interesting mashup of textures and colours, the collection is a mix of streetwear and sleek urban.
I think blue leather gloves and ombre pants are my new favourite thing. We all know Tokyo has a very unique sense of fashion in their culture, and their one-step-ahead modern look is reflected here. The range is filled with amazing drapery and the designer has done a great thing with a lot of the looks, tying it together with some kind of layered, pleated belt. Love!
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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