Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Moratorium end shifts focus to 106, TDB hires banks for the road, EBRD looks to new XacBank loan, and Speaker open to irregular session]

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original


Overseas Market

Announcement made after Wed. market close. MNGGF closed -3.36% to US$2.3, YAK closed +3.36% to C$2.46

Mongolia Growth Group Completes Renovations to Create New Medical Facility

Thunder Bay, Ontario, July 2 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK - TSXV and MNGGF - USA) Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. ("MGG") or ("the Company"), a real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy via ownership of institutional-quality commercial property assets in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is pleased to announce that it has completed renovations to create a new 1,110 meter medical facility in the downtown core of Ulaanbaatar. 

In April of 2014, MGG signed a lease with a well-established medical tenant who will occupy the building beginning in early July, 2014. Since the prior anchor tenant downsized in November of 2013, the building has had occupancy of less than 40%. Upon occupancy by the medical tenant, along with associated service providers, the building will be fully leased, leading to an increase in MGG's rental revenue. 

"Since joining the Company, I have aimed to push the company into more specialized property segments where MGG's unique in-house expertise can create value," said Paul Byrne, CEO of MGG "This renovation has been our first renovate-to-suit mandate where we have specifically designed a property for the unique needs of a tenant. Furthermore, by repositioning this previously underperforming asset, we have diversified the portfolio into a segment of the economy that is less sensitive to economic volatility." 

"Ulaanbaatar currently suffers from a lack of modern medical facilities," said Harris Kupperman, Executive Chairman of MGG. "We are proud that MGG has been able to add to the available medical space in the city by repurposing one of our office assets that was slated for renovation this year."

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Local Market

MSE News for July 2: Top 20 -1.44% to 15,360.40, Turnover 26.7 Million

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 40 thousand and 926 shares of 24 JSCs were traded costing MNT 26 million 745 thousand and 055.00.

"Remikon" /18 thousand and 479 units/, "Merex" /12 thousand and 080 units/, "Hermes center" /6,205 units/, "APU" /3,428 units/ and "Silikat" /200 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT 12 million 507 thousand and 330), "UB-BUK" (MNT three million 998 thousand and 500), "UB hotel" (MNT two million and 880 thousand), "Remikon" (MNT two million 772 thousand and 180) and "Merex" (MNT one million and 208 thousand).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 573 billion 010 million 961 thousand and 008. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,360.40, decreasing by MNT 224.40 or 1.44% against the previous day.

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Mogi: ummm, guess it's a new-bosses-getting-to-know-each-other kind of thingie, sure why not. Securities law was only passed like, you know, just a half year ago.

FRC Meets MSE, Clearing House, Brokers Association on Accelerating Development of Market

July 2 (MSE) FRC hold a meeting with participants of capital market including MSE, SCHCD and Mongolian Association of Securities Dealers on 30 June 2014. 

Regarding to "Securities Law of Mongolia" which came into force since 1 January 2014, participants exchanged their opinions on issues of collaboration, introduction of new products to the market, and acceleration of capital market developments.   

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BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, July 2 Close





































July MNT vs USD, CNY Chart: (Mogi: wish BoM had better chart options)


Link to rates


BoM issues 211.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +6.6% to ₮698.7 billion

July 2 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 211.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release


GoM Bond Auction: 10 Billion 5-Years Bills Sold at Average 14.75% Yield

July 2 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 5 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 10.0 billion /out of 11.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at premium price and with weighted average yield of 14.750%

Link to release


GoM Treasury Auction: 20 Billion 28-Week Bills Sold at Average 9.787% Yield

July 2 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT, each unit worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 20.0 billion /out of 36.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 9.787%.

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Mongolia Ends Moratorium on Issuing Mineral Exploration Licenses

By Michael Kohn

July 2 (Bloomberg) Mongolia ended a four-year moratorium on issuing mineral exploration licenses, boosting opportunities for mining companies as the nation seeks to spur investment.

A law passed by parliament yesterday also extends periods of exploration to 12 years from nine, according to Otgochuluu Chuluuntseren, director general of the Ministry of Mining's strategic policy and planning department.

The law must be formally published before it's effective, and the ministry must set out exploration boundaries, he said.

Erdenebulgan Oyun, vice minister for mining, said in May the law would expand the area of Mongolia's land available for mining and exploration to about 20 percent from 8 percent. Mongolia is seeking to boost the economy after almost two years of declining foreign direct investment, including a 52 percent slump last year and 64 percent in the first five months of 2014.

"Lifting the moratorium for new exploration licenses was needed to save a sector which was otherwise becoming non-existent because of the age of the existing licenses and limited land available," Sam Spring, chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Kincora Copper Ltd. (KCC), said by e-mail.

License rules including procedures for companies to extend them have been eased to spur investment, Otgochuluu said. The passage of the law also increases the chance of reversing the cancellation of 106 exploration licenses, he said.

"It is now closer to resolving that issue," Otgochuluu said. "We can handle it case-by-case."

The licenses, with 11 held by foreign investors including Kincora, were revoked by the government.

Link to article


Parliament of Mongolia Adopts "Glass Account" Law for Budget Transparency

July 2 ( On July 01, 2014, the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia made its Spring 2014 Session and approved the Budget Transparency Law or Law on "Glass Account", initiated and submitted by President Ts.Elbegdorj.

The Policy and Action Program of the President of Mongolia for 2013-2017 set forward, inter alia, a policy objective to establish transparency in accounting and financial practices of public (budgetary) organizations by introducing a concept of a "glass account", a transparent system of reporting on financial transactions of public organizations. The Decree of the President of Mongolia of September 19, 2012, endorsed a National Mid and Long Term Policy Paper on Decentralization through Direct Democracy and Citizen Participation. One of the policy goals of this document was to develop and adopt the budget transparency law. The Budget Transparency Law constitutes one of the fundamental legal mechanisms to institute a Smart Government in Mongolia.

The Budget Transparency Law, which is now being widely acknowledged by the Mongolian general public and entering into daily lexicon of Mongolians as simply "A Glass Account Law", enables citizens' control and monitoring of the spending of the taxpayers money. By publicly reporting the financial decisions and stances on disbursement and disposal of fiscal funds Mongolia will have established an effective financial prudence and accountability system. The law will help prevent corruption, bribery, abuse and misuse of public funds and official position. It will help build a smarter, more responsible and accountable government.

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Parliament appoints MP D.Ganbat as Head of Legal Standing Committee

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) Plenary meeting of the parliamentary session Tuesday heard final redrafts of some laws.

After this, the plenary meeting decided to free Mr Sh.Tuvdendorj from a post of a head of the Standing committee on justice and to appoint D.Ganbat.

Then the MPs adopted an issue of altering a composition of the Sub-committee on special monitoring, about which had been suggested by the Standing committee on security and foreign policy.

Final discussions were run of a draft resolution of parliament on approving the Basic Guidelines of Social-Economic Development of Mongolia in 2015, a draft amendment to the law on minerals and other bills. These all were backed by a majority. Their approval was also given to draft amendments to the laws on customs tariff and tax and on VAT. The MPs passed a bill on "glass" account, other related draft laws, and also a draft resolution of parliament on fixing a percentage of state-owned shares of the "Tsagaan suvarga" mineral deposit.

After having completed all the discussions, the 2014 parliamentary spring session took a break. The Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold delivered a speech, adjourning the session.

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Speaker says irregular session can be called if needed in his spring session closing remarks

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold made the remarks, adjourning the spring session of parliament.

He noted that plenary meeting met 29 times, meetings of Standing Committees and of sub-committees ran 29 times. Heads of the legislative bodies of Myanmar, Russia and Turkey paid official visit at invitations of the Speaker. Parliament discussed and adopted 106 laws and resolutions, of which 10 were laws, 61--amendments to laws, four--annulments, four--ratifying treaties and 27--resolutions of parliament, he went on.

Mr Enkhbold pointed out that the spring session passed many important laws and resolutions such as the 2015 Budget Frameworks, the laws on 2016-2017 budget assumption, on approving the Basic Guidelines for Social--Economic Development in 2015, on protecting cultural heritage, draft new wordings of the laws on oil, on index-based livestock insurance, on minerals, also parliamentary resolutions on some measures for intensifying economy, on approving a middle-term programme on green development concept, on fixing a percentage of state-owned shares of the "Tsagaan suvarga" mineral deposit.

In addition, the session adopted bills on ratifying the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, a general financial agreement for the programme of developing ger areas and supporting investment, a credit agreement for the project on higher education for engineering and technological institute, and a credit agreement for additional finance for the project on food, nutrition and social welfare, the Speaker said.

He also urged MPs to pay attention to implementing the 34th resolution on taking some measures for intensifying the national economy, adopted by parliament on May 8. "We can call an irregular session if there will be urgent issues related to parliament," the Speaker noted and said he wants all MPs to make efforts to realize the 100 days of intensifying economy.

Link to article


DBM Spending to Increase Budget Deficit to 10%, Above 2% Legal Limit

July 2 (Mongolian Economy) Parliament ended the last day of their spring session yesterday. During these meetings, parliament members were able to discuss 79 laws, regulations and resolutions. Of these 79, nine of them were independent laws, which were all passed. In addition, they were able to change 43 current laws by adding major improvements. 

During this spring term, the laws that were passed will hold a big impact in the Mongolian community. For example, the nine big laws that were passed include a law related to the announcement of the overall budget of 2015, a law related to the budget of 2016 and 2017 as a future projection, priorities to develop the society of Mongolia, priorities to develop the economy of Mongolia, cultural heritage protection law, oil law, transparency law, minerals law and an animal index insurance law. 

More regulations were passed as well including measures to boost economic growth, to enhance the green development policy and to implement the midterm programme approval. In relation to the Tsagaan Suvarga mine that contains copper and molybdenum deposits, parliament also discussed how much of these deposits the state can own. 

Resolutions regarding monetary policy also came under play as parliament members targeted an inflation rate of 8% this year and 7% in the next two years in hopes to insure a stable macroeconomic environment. However, as of May this year, inflations levels remained at 13.7%, providing the government with little hope that it would hit 8%.

Besides inflation, foreign currency income rests at lower levels than expected. The budget income is facing a shortage and bad loans issued to sectors are now starting to deteriorate. The current account is also not in a good situation. It has experienced a fall of 56%, which is equal to USD 728.2 million. To add on to the fall of the current account balance, the country is facing a deficit of USD 580.5 million. 

Z. Enkhbold, parliament speaker, said "Given the current situation and given the current fall in foreign direct investment, the government is trying to keep boosting the growth of Mongolia by pushing the mining sector. The current account balance lost its stability, Mongolian currency is facing depreciation, and high inflation rates will require the nation to tighten its macroeconomic policy. If we continue down this path, we might get trapped in this situation and will have to limit supply." 

If the current policy is continued, the Development Bank of Mongolia will have financing equal to 5% of GDP outside the budget, says International organizations If they carry on funding projects and programmes outside of the budget, the budget deficit will increase to levels consistent with 10% of GDP. 

Financing from the Chinggis and Samurai Bond, in addition to other budget operations, needs to be reflected in a general budget and then total deficit needs to be cut down until it meets the level consistent with the Fiscal Stability Law, which rests at 2%. In order to do this, budget amendments should be processed and submitted to parliament next month and parliament members will need to announce an off-season session in August. 

Link to article


Mongolia Jumps 11 Spots to 65th on UN E-Government Survey 2014

July 2 ( The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat has released the biennial "UN E-Government Survey 2014: E-Government for the Future We Want", the only report in the world that assesses the e-government development status of the 193 United Nations Member States.

The report serves as a tool for decision-makers to identify their areas of strength and challenges in e-government and to guide e-government policies and strategies.

As of continents, Africa led by Tunisia (ranked 75th globally) followed by Mauritius (76th) in the E-Government Development Index (EGDI), Americas led by the United States of America (7th) and Canada (11th), Asia by the Republic of Korea (1st) and Singapore (3rd), Europe by France (4th) and the Netherlands (5th), and Oceania led by Australia (2nd) and New Zealand (9th).

As of Mongolia, the country is ranked at the 65th place out of 193 states with EGDI score of 0.55 and compare to 2012 Rank jumped up 11 places from 76th.

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Mongolia rally revs up, TDBM announces roadshow

Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia (TDBM) has announced a series of fixed income investor meetings that start on July 3. The borrower, which did a dim sum in January, is the only Mongolian credit to have tapped the international market so far this year.

By Virginia Furness

July 2 (GlobalCapital) Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and lNG are arranging the meetings, which will take place in Asia, Europe and the US. A US dollar 144A Reg S offering may follow.

"It's a good time for them to come," said a banker away from the deal. "Mongolia is tied away on the political front and the spectrum of credit spreads is tighter. TOMB's existing bonds have come in quite a bit thought they're still below par."

The banker cited Development Bank of Mongolia 2017s, which priced in May 2012, as the most relevant comparable and said that TDBM's bond should come back of DBM's curve.

"The technicals are still a little uncertain in Mongolia but relative to the rest of the Asian space the bonds still offer some carry," he added. ''There's been a lot of interest in Sri Lanka and Vietnam has been chased tighter. A shorter dated trade should do well."

The B1/B rated borrower has already tapped the international market this year and came in January with a Rmb700m ($115m) 201 7 at 10.25%. The borrower was last seen in the dollar market in September 2012 when it issued a $300m 8.5% 2015 bond.

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EBRD Looks to Loan XacBank $5m in Local Currency for On-Lending to MSMEs, $10m for Sustainable Energy

July 2 (MicroCapital) The London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering disbursing a local-currency loan equivalent to USD 5 million to XacBank, a lender to micro-, small and medium-sized businesses in Mongolia. If approved, the loan is expected to be used for on-lending to "private micro, small and medium enterprises in Mongolia"[1]. EBRD also is studying the possibility of disbursing a local-currency loan equivalent to USD 10 million to XacBank under EBRD's Mongolian Sustainable Energy Financing Facility. If the loan is approved, EBRD will also aim to assist XacBank with capacity building regarding financing projects such as energy conservation. If funding can be secured, the EBRD loan would be supplemented with technical cooperation to "support the identification of sustainable energy projects"[2].

As of 2012, XacBank reported to the US-based nonprofit Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) total assets of USD 782 million, a gross loan portfolio of USD 462 million, approximately 71,200 borrowers, total deposits of USD 316 million and approximately 397,000 depositors.

EBRD provides loans, debt securities, equity investments, guarantees and technical assistance to micro- and small businesses via commercial banks and non-bank microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and North Africa. In 2013, EBRD invested EUR 8.5 billion (USD 11.4 billion) in 392 projects across 34 countries.

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Korean firms to build 8MW solar energy station at Bayanteeg coal mine

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Energy will cooperate with South Korean companies in renewable energy sector in frames of the "Gobitech and Asian super network" project.

The document was signed Wednesday by D.Delgertsogt, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy; Lee Wan Keun, president of South Korea's "Shing Sung solar energy" LLC; Lee Wang Hee, president of the "Weel" LLC; and by B.Osorgarav, director of the "Mon-Korea" LLC.

Accordingly, the sides will construct a solar energy station of 8 Megawatt near the "Bayanteeg" coal mine in Ovorkhangai aimag's Nariin teel soum.

Before the memorandum, a forum themed "Development of renewable energy in Northeast Asia: Gobitech-Asian Super Network" was co-organized last week by the Energy Charter Forum and the Ministry of Energy. Policy makers from Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, also international organizations, business delegates and others exchanged views on the Gobitech-Asian Super Network initiative and discussed opportunities to invest this initiative.

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Mogi: spelled seabuckthorn

Farmers' Innovations from Mongolia: seabuckthorn products, woolen items, milk curd

July 1 (Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development) Mongolia has many products made by herders in their homes. Seabackthorn oil is very useful for health.

Many farmers grow seabackthorn in their own land. And when they harvest the seabackthorn, they give all their produce to the cooperative. Some cooperatives have small plants for processing seabackthorn and make different kinds of products like seabackthorn juice and oil.

Seabackthorn can also be used for beauty products like lotion.

Aaruul is dried curd. Every family in Mongolia produces it in their home and it's made from milk and sugar. It's a very useful method of keeping the milk available the whole year, even in winter. In summer and autumn, other kinds of dairy products are also produced, which can be eaten the whole year.

Organic honey, whose benefits are well-known, is produced mostly by women cooperatives. The women's cooperatives also produce all kinds of hand-made products from sheep wool such as scarves. There are also small woolen products like key chains also made by women cooperatives.

Link to video


Inner Mongolia firms express interest in non-mining sectors

July 2 (Mongolian Economy) Last November, the Foreign Direct Investment Law was passed. Since the enforcement of this law, many investment forums and meetings took place within Mongolia with the participation of many foreign investors. Since the beginning of this year, 20 business forums have been organized by the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry that included over 600 foreign investors from a variety of nations. 

The Inner-Mongolian Investment Forum began today and will last until the 4th of July. 200 foreign investors from Inner Mongolia and China will partake in the events, hailing from many sectors including energy, road and transportation, construction, mining, agriculture, food, telecommunications, trade, bank and financing and environment. Another 200 business people will also participate from Mongolia representing 160 different entities. 

This forum aims to expand economic cooperation between China and Mongolia in addition to smoothing out the environment. The summit will bring together businesspeople from both nations to boost cooperation. The investors from Inner-Mongolia and China primarily come from the agriculture sector and the food industry as well as the food-processing level. These investors get along well with the Mongolian policy through diversification. 

Sun Wei Dun, the Director of the National Chamber of Commerce of Inner Mongolia of China, said, "This forum is important because it is happening at a time of good relations." Chinese investors also underlined the importance of a stable legal environment. 

In reply, S. Javkhlanbaatar of Invest Mongolia Agency said, "Not only in the legal environment, but in all other sectors, it is important to remain stable. Mongolia right now is in the centre of investors' attention. They've been visiting hundreds by hundreds, but we are paying attention to make cooperation effective and beneficial in order to avoid losing investor confidence and trust."

According to Go Gan, the Trade Department Deputy Director of Inner Mongolia, it is not important to seek opportunities in big sectors, such as mining that brings the economy down. It is agreed that it is important to not only cooperate with big companies, but with small- and medium-sized enterprises as well. The result will end up with attracting bigger and better investment. 

This forum is organized by Invest Mongolia Agency, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Sub Council of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade

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New options for cell phone number ownership

July 1 (UB Post) Phone numbers which start with a 9911 prefix cost 15 million MNT, even if the number's last four digits are not "lucky" numbers. Cell phone number sellers say that these numbers could be even more expensive, however they are very marketable. Many businessmen buy such numbers to phone officials, which will help with their work, because many people decline simple numbers thinking that they are unsolicited callers.

Showing off one's wealth is very common among Mongolians nowadays. This could be having an expensive car with a big engine, when even the fuel costs would be too expensive for others, using cellular numbers of the most expensive mobile operators, or buying an expensive cell phone on credit equivalent to almost three months' salary.

Mobile operators suggest that numbers starting with 9911, 9191 and 9111 offer a guarantee of authority to their users. The number holders will pay a premium for them. In 2012, Mobile operators announced a competition, such that they would present one of their "gold numbers" to the first Olympic champion. But, not having any gold numbers left, G-Mobile directly to the account and took the number of one of their customers to give to the first Olympic champion.

Individuals and businesses won't change their phone numbers because they are afraid of losing contact with their customers and people know their numbers by heart. That is the main reason why people use their old numbers, not really caring about service tariffs.

On June 26th, a proposal to make a change to the Law on Communication was presented to Parliament, which decided to review it.

In 1995, licenses for cellular phone operators were first given out. Now, in the market of cellular communication, there are four organizations at work: Mobicom LLC, Skytel LLC, Unitel LLC, and G-Mobile LLC.

Originators of the new legal proposal state that 12.21 percent of all consumers of cellular communication are "post-pay" customers (they pay at the end of each month), leaving 87.79 percent as advance pay customers. Last year's data shows that the number of cellular communication users reached roughly 4,247,400. The overall rate of penetration of mobile communication has reached 144.9 percent, which is more than the world average of 51.8 percent. In other words, some individuals are using two or more cell phones, depending on tariff conditions.

If the proposal is adopted, cellular communication will have a new service, called "proceed with number".

This means the customer can move from one operating company to another with the same number. In the 1990s, many countries started using this service, which satisfies many consumers. By July 2012, 39 countries in Europe, nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 12 countries in the Americas, 13 countries in Africa – 73 countries overall – were using this service, and in 2013-2014, five additional countries adopted it.

This service will be beneficial to customers. People who change their operator would no longer need to change their business cards and remind everyone that they have changed their phone number.

Operator companies will be encouraged to offer customers a low tariff instead of a guarantee of authority. In addition, we won't need as many operator companies as we have today (Mogi: huh? More the better no? Especially when we can move operators now), and we will receive better and cheaper service.

This article has been edited for clarity.


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Cars parked in restricted areas to be moved and locked instead of towed

July 1 (UB Post) The Ulaanbaatar City Traffic Monitoring Center (UCTMC) has been towing away cars parked on the first lane of roads to reduce traffic congestion since September last year.

However, drivers have been repeatedly complaining that they do not receive any notifications before towing or information about which impound facilities are storing their cars. Therefore, the UCTMC has formulated a new regulation that will put wheel clamps on the front tires of cars parked at restricted areas after towing them to a nearby place where they do not cause any congestions.

Parking is mostly restricted at green areas, sidewalks, footpaths and public squares and streets.

Drivers who had their cars wheel clamped will pay 20,000 MNT to the UCTMC to release the locks. Wheel clamped cars will be towed away to impound facilities if drivers do not pay the fee and have their cars released from the clamp within the working hours of that day.

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Canada's aid priorities shift unsurprising, say observers

Minister drops Pakistan, Sudan, Bolivia; adds trade interests like Mongolia, Myanmar.

July 2 (Embassy News) Several observers and an opposition critic said they were unsurprised with the government's picks in an announcement last week of an expanded list of countries to which it funnels much of its bilateral aid.

The new list of so-called countries of focus follows a recent trend in aid priorities, largely reflecting Canadian foreign policy priorities and especially business interests, said the academics and an official Opposition critic.

International Development Minister Christian Paradis announced on June 27 that he was expanding the list from 20 to 25. He also upped the proportion of country-to-country aid for these recipients from 80 to 90 per cent. That means Canada is targeting 90 per cent of its total bilateral aid budget on these 25 places.

Other aid that's not earmarked for a specific place is doled out through multilateral groups like the World Food Programme. Humanitarian assistance for urgent crises, like famines and floods, is also kept separate.

These are the first big changes to Canada's focus countries list since the Harper government crafted it in 2009. Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin had proposed a 25-country list in 2005.

Brought back on the list are Burkina Faso and Benin, countries that had been on list prior to the Harper government's 2009 changes. Also added to the list are: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines, Jordan, Mongolia and Myanmar (also known as Burma).

Julian Dierkes, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia's Institute of Asian Research, said he's been waiting for an announcement on Canada's bilateral aid program in Mongolia for two or three years. He noticed a Canadian aid officer stationed in Canada's embassy in the country's capital, Ulaanbaatar, since fall 2012.

While he said he shares some of the worries that Canadian self-interest is overtaking poverty reduction in the government's aid funding choices, he said it makes sense for Canada to focus on its areas of expertise, such as the extractive sector.

"It's a bit odd to think of Canadian projects that would focus on banana growing for example. Surely there's some Canadian development consultants and academics and colleagues and so forth that have expertise in that. But the density of expertise in an area like resource economies is much greater, in part also because the economic interest is there."

A government webpage on Canada's development co-operation in Mongolia says Canada seeks to boost public-sector capacity in Mongolia "to manage the extractive sector sustainably and responsibly."

Canada doesn't have a perfect record, but it has years of experience on mining company-community relations that may help Mongolia, said Mr. Dierkes.

Canada is the second-largest investor in Mongolia, according to the government. Canadian companies, including more than 20 in mining and exploration, have about $400 million in assets in the east-central Asian country, and Canada is in the process of negotiating an investment protection deal with the resource-rich nation.

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Mongolia elected to Climate Investment Funds steering council

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) Mongolia has been elected as one of the member states of the Steering Council of the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) during the CIFs Partnership Forum took place June 23-24 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The forum was organized by the World Bank Group, and it covered areas like knowledge and learning on low carbon, climate resilient development and a key meeting place for climate change champions from around the world.

As of present, the CIFs has collected money of USD 8.8 billion, and the capital is being spent for low-income and developing countries. The CIFs Partnership Forum decided to give a non-refundable aid of USD 300 thousand to Mongolia for working out an investment plan for renewable energy after being involved in the list of countries to implement projects in frames of the Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP).

Approved in 2009, the SREP is aimed at demonstrating the economic, social and environmental viability of low carbon development pathways in the energy sector by creating new economic opportunities and increasing energy access through the use of renewable energy.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Drexel University Receives Federal Grant to Support Women in Natural Sciences Program in Mongolia

PHILADELPHIA, July 1 (Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah) -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) is pleased to announce that the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia have received federal grant funding to foster international collaboration with museum counterparts abroad. Both institutions are the recipients of the 2014 Museums Connect grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums. Only nine museums nationwide were awarded the selective grants this year.

"This grant is an exceptional honor for two of Philadelphia's pioneering museums. Not only is this funding going towards programs to expand our community's rich cultural traditions, and empower and educate Philadelphia students through the arts, it will increase the international visibility of our wonderful city," Congressman Fattah said. "I applaud the Academy of Natural Sciences and The Fabric Workshop and Museum for their commitment to creating unique, new cultural opportunities for our youth."

The Academy of Natural Sciences grant funding will go to support the WINS (Women in Natural Sciences) program in collaboration with the National Museum of Mongolia and serve as a launching point for empowering high school girls in both communities to engage in a better understanding of climate education through scientific research, discovery, and enrichment. The project will result in an after-school program curriculum about climate change variation in different habitats and diverse cultural practices that can be climate change catalysts or deterrents.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum will collaborate with the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies on a project documenting oral histories from female embroidery artists and quilt-makers in Morocco and the United States. College students in Morocco and Philadelphia will build an online catalogue of the work of the textile artists and an exhibition of documentary photographs to be displayed in both museums; they will also collaborate on a joint textile project.

In its seventh year, Museums Connect links U.S. communities with communities around the world through innovative, museum-based exchanges that foster mutual understanding while focusing on important topics like women's empowerment, disability awareness, climate change, and civic engagement, among others.

Link to release


NBA Senior VP to visit Mongolia July 10-12

Ulaanbaatar, July 2 (MONTSAME) Senior vice president of events for the US National Basketball Association (NBA) Mr Mark Aronson will pay a visit to Mongolia on July 10-12 at an invitation of the Mongolia's Basketball Federation (MBF).

During the forthcoming visit here, Mr Aronson will attend a basketball festival as an honoured guest, and plans to see a development of basketball sport in Mongolia and to learn an opportunity to organize a big sport event in 2015. As serving as the NBA senior vice president of events, Mr Aronson is responsible for all events of the NBA organized around the world. He makes vital decisions on realizing the Basketball Without Borders international programme, and basketball games of the NBA in Japan, Russia, Mexico and Brazil.

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