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Monday, January 5, 2015

[MNT ends year -13.8%, Top 20 -8.9%; FDI down 71%; more budget cuts for 2015; TT talks start today; and EBRD lends Nomin]

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Monday, January 5, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

Xanadu Mines: 8.6 Million Rights Shares Subscribed, 61 Million Shortfall at Directors' Discretion

December 30 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (Xanadu or the Company) advises that the Non-renounceable Rights Issue Offer announced on 25 November 2014 closed on 23 December 2014 (Rights Issue).

The Company is pleased to confirm that 8,590,785 new fully paid ordinary shares have been subscribed for under the Rights Issue, raising a total of $1,030,894.20 (New Shares). The New Shares will be allotted on 2 January 2015. Transaction confirmation statements will be dispatched to subscribing shareholders on 2 January 2015.

Following completion of the Rights Issue, there are 60,991,586 shortfall shares which may be issued at the discretion of the Directors in accordance with section 4 of the Rights Issue Offer Document.

The Directors thank all shareholders who participated in the Rights Issue and note that this new funding will be applied to partly repay the deferred consideration for the Kharmagtai project and advance exploration activities at the Kharmagtai and Oyut Ulaan copper-gold projects.

Link to release

 

GUF closed +5.56% Friday

Guildford Directors Unanimously Recommend Rejecting Sino Construction's Takeover Bid

December 24, Guildford Coal Ltd. (ASX:GUF) --

Link to GUF's Target's Statement

 

Tavan Tolgoi negotiations begin today with MMC consortium

By B. Mendbayar

January 4 (UB Post) The negotiation to establish a strategic investment agreement between the Mongolian government and the three-party consortium of China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd of China, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan, and Energy Resource LLC of Mongolia will begin on January 5.

The Tavan Tolgoi tender working group had a meeting with representatives from the three-party consortium selected as an investor to cooperate on operating the Tavan Tolgoi deposit, on December 24.

At the meeting, the sides agreed to begin the negotiations on January 5, and pledged to seek all possible means to successfully carry out the investment and development of the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.

Head of the working group and Minister of Mongolia M.Enkhsaikhan, Minister of Mining R.Jigjid, Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat, and Minister of Roads and Transportation N.Tumurkhuu met with the consortium's representatives.

Representing the consortium, CEO of Energy Resources LLC G.Battsengel, Deputy CEO of Energy Resources LLC L.Oyunbat, Board Chairman of China Shenhua Overseas Development and Investment Co., Ltd Shao Junjie, and General Manager of Sumitomo Corporation's Ulaanbaatar Office Hiroto Fujiwara attended the meeting.

M.Enkhsaikhan remarked, "The Tavan Tolgoi project requires about four billion USD in investment. In this respect, it is a world-scale project. The selected investor's representation of three nations – Mongolia, China, and Japan – increases the project's value."

CEO of Energy Resources LLC G.Battsengel commented, "We would like to express our readiness to provide substantial impetus to the development of Mongolia through utilizing the experiences we have gained hitherto."

Hiroto Fujiwara noted, "Our company has been operating in Mongolia since 1992. With regards to this project, we will focus on selling coal to nearby third markets."

Board Chairman of China's Shenhua's Overseas Development and Investment Co., Ltd Shao Junjie highlighted, "Shenhua Group is an experienced entity that has implemented several international projects. Judging from projects being implemented in Southeast Asian countries, large-scale projects are more likely to thrive when implemented in cooperation with an experienced domestic company. Cooperating with Mongolian and Japanese firms, we will operate in conformity with market principles and in the scope of Mongolian laws."

In conducting the negotiation, the parties agreed to adhere to a mutually beneficial strategy, basing the negation on trust, discussing all problematic aspects of the project, and striving to find cooperative and creative solutions to each issue.

Members of the working group informed the representatives of the criteria to adhere to in the negotiations, including keeping the status of the domestic company as a majority stakeholder throughout the entire project, retaining the ownership of the deposit by the Mongolian government, being able to sell the deposit's products to Japanese and other foreign markets, contributing to regional development, respecting and contributing to the development of traditional Mongolian culture, and having no harmful effects on the environment.

Link to article

 

MMC closed flat Friday at HK$0.34

MMC: 3-Year Service Agreement with MCS International on UHG Power Plant Operations

December 30, Mongolian Mining Corp. (HKEx:975) -- On 30 December 2014, Energy Resources, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, entered into the Agreement with MCS International whereby MCS International agreed to provide services including (i) UHG Power Plant and electricity distribution facilities operation and maintenance; (ii) heating facilities operation and maintenance; (iii) diesel generators operation and maintenance; and (iv) supply of electricity and heating to end customers and contractors of the Group and billing for the consumption to the Group from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2017 for a total consideration of  MNT86,332,146,634 (equivalent to approximately US$45,815,832).

LISTING RULES IMPLICATIONS

MCS International is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCS Holding LLC which is in turn wholly owned and controlled by MCS (Mongolia) Limited which directly owns a 100% shareholding interest in MCS Mining Group, a substantial Shareholder holding approximately 33.50% of the issued share capital of the Company as at the date of this announcement. As such, MCS International is a connected person of the Company within the meaning of the Listing Rules and the transaction contemplated under the Agreement constitutes a continuing connected transaction of the Company.

As the applicable percentage ratios for the annual caps for the continuing connected transaction under the Agreement are more than 0.1% but less than 5%, the transaction contemplated under the Agreement is subject to the reporting and announcement requirements but exempt from independent shareholders' approval requirements under Chapter 14A of the Listing Rules.

Link to full release

Related:

Director's Interests in Shares of Listed Corporation: Odjargal Jambaljamts, Od Jambaljamts, Gankhuyag Adilbish

Corporate Substantial Shareholder Notice: JPMorgan Chase & Co

 

Z.Enkhbold: Amendments aren't necessary for the Oyu Tolgoi agreement

January 4 (UB Post) The following is a translation of the interview with Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold about various economic issues, broadcasted on Bloomberg TV Mongolia.

At the last parliament meeting in 2014, you stated that Mongolia shouldn't go with the flow and change its old practices. Can you clarify about this?

If we metaphorically say that Mongolia is a household, it consists of two types of households. One would be a household with sudden increase in income; all of Mongolia's statistics, including economy and budget, have increased tenfold in the past ten years. Yet all that income was wasted on useless and fruitless expenses. That huge income was drained once we realized. Mongolia benefited that huge sum from raw material price spike. We didn't enhance our productivity, develop new products, and revenue from it like iPhone and Microsoft. Mongolia's GDP rose by 17 percent during the years when copper, metal, coal, gold and spar prices increased, and the whole world was amazed. Truthfully, we didn't labor. Mongolia experienced a "windfall" and received a large amount of money. During that time, the budget expenditure was expanded greatly, more than the income. While income increased by tenfold, expenditure became 12 times more.

Mongolia passed budgets that didn't have any deficit from 2006 to 2007. The following years were all in the minus zone, with deficits. Now we need to cut useless costs. Whether we like it or not, a financial disciplinary is essential. Mongolia was never this luxurious before the raw material price spike. Projects will not progress if we keep whining about everything and complaining that this law is too strict and this regulation can't be dismissed etc.

The question is very simple. Is this service needed from the government? If we can answer, we can advance.

Budget cut is currently the center of attention. How was the 2015 budget determined?

Whether we like it or not, Parliament has to cut the budget. Instead of laying-off 10,000 employees immediately, the value of the organization should be considered and whether their services are needed. All these businesses, which aren't beneficial for the state, don't need to be owned by the state. There are too many businesses under the state property list that can run by themselves.

Parliament sees the economic crisis as an opportunity – an opportunity to return to reality and cut back on the wasteful budget that rapidly expanded. If revenue had continued to flow in, Mongolia wouldn't have received this warning.

The biggest issue for the economy is foreign investment. What is the most beneficial method for attracting foreign investment within a short period of time?

Since Parliament was created, it has focused on this issue and practiced the method to repeal laws with "bad reputation". Yet foreign investment isn't increasing as much as we assumed it would. The reason for this is trust issues and global economic situation.

Mining played the biggest part in attracting investors to Mongolia.  Mining will draw investment if raw material prices are high. When the price dropped, investors aren't coming even with proper legal and other necessary conditions because it isn't profitable.

The sudden inflow of foreign investment is often said to be connected to two laws approved before the Democratic Party won the election – the long-named law (The Law on Prohibiting Mineral Exploration and Extraction Near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests) and the Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law. Both laws raised issued during the previous government and formed negative attitudes. But this isn't the core of the issue. It was Oyu Tolgoi (OT).

Most of the four billion USD foreign investment was aimed at OT. An industry was established for certain purposes (not for attracting investment) within specific time for the OT project. Naturally, investment ceased as the construction finished. The first stage of the industry was completed and there were investors for the second stage. But issues rose regarding it. Small investors of OT sat back to wait for what OT would do.

Investment drastically decreased when the establishment was completed on time. This shows how fatal a four billion USD investment can be for a small country like Mongolia. If Mongolia had an economy with flow of 40 billion USD, ten percent of the inflow and outflow wouldn't be significant. But our economy is worth ten billion USD in total. The government and Parliament should've executed projects to attract more investors and provide necessary arrangements. Their mistake was becoming happy while observing OT. They didn't account that OT investment would run out and weren't ready to immediately carry out other projects such as Tavan Tolgoi and railway projects, after the deadline for OT investment.

Foreign investors are very curious about when OT would advance and have been raising the issue many times at foreign meetings and forums. Although it's impossible to name an exact time, can you make estimations for OT's recovery?

Parliament is holding a specific position about the OT issue. The government approved of forming agreements in 2010. Work began and first stage was completed. For the second stage, Mongolia agreed to an agreement to work for 60 years without funds from Mongolia. Mongolia had the resource and OT had the technology and funds and so we partnered. Now they should do the work since Mongolia fulfilled all of its obligations. Changes aren't necessary in the agreement. They should look ahead and do the work. They should fulfill their agreements and the mine should operate without stopping. If investment is required for the second stage, OT should find it and begin operations of the industry. Mongolia isn't responsible for that task. Mongolia isn't an investor. The mine is on our land and we've even made several adjustments at the request of investors. Now they should just do their work.

Is it a misunderstanding that Mongolia requested to make changes in the investment agreement?

The Mongolian side requested it in 2012. The request was rejected. Now, investors want to make changes in the agreement. For instance, changing the method for determining royalty. All companies have the same method. A method adjusted only for OT shouldn't be created. It'll be a violation of the law.

If there's issue in Mongolia's royalty calculation, we can discuss it, but the General Department of Taxation can't create exclusive method or regulation for OT. The Tax Law is applied to every company so we don't have the right to change it.

How do you see megaprojects such as Tavan Tolgoi and coal gasification? Prices of Mongolia's main raw materials have fallen. What are some worrisome issues for the future?

We need to fix our mistake of forming an economy too dependent on raw material prices. Or Mongolia will be impacted again if prices drop in the future.

Mongolia exports a ton of 60 percent concentrated iron ore for almost 50 USD and a ton of coking coal for 70 USD. If these two raw materials are combined and processed, a ton of that semi-raw product (pig iron) will reach up to 500 USD. The price of pig iron is relatively stable at 500 USD and yet the prices of its two component raw materials fluctuate drastically. Coking coal used to cost 170 to 180 USD per ton but now it has dropped to 70 USD, while the price of pig iron remains the same. Mongolia wouldn't have faced crisis if we had combined the two and exported it.

Can this be considered as a disadvantage of not being industrialized?

It's because Mongolia isn't industrialized that Mongolia is being affected by the prices of raw materials. Mongolia wouldn't have faced crisis if it had processed raw materials and exported it. We're experiencing the loss of not becoming industrialized. Although we raised the topic so many times, nothing was done.

How is the outlook for Mongolia in terms of opportunity?

There are opportunities for Mongolia to recover. It all comes down to whether we have the courage and persistency to strive towards the correct direction. I don't think the global economic situation will improve. It's good if it does improve. Most importantly, once infrastructure and narrow gauge railway track projects finish, the cost of coal will be reduced. All of the work will finish halfway through the year and wagons will start running.

Power station extensions are almost completed. New power stations will be constructed. We're discussing about oil refineries. These little improvements will become a huge development and make positive changes for Mongolia. Big developments aren't created in a single day. It requires certain amount of time and goes through certain stages. Mongolia is working towards establishing its structure and becoming a country independent of external forces.

It's better not to expect so many positive changes in 2015. Projects to fight the economic crisis will be carried out. Small changes will build up into a huge advantage and big advancements. 

Source: Daily news

Link to interview

 

Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) Stock Closes Higher Today as Gold Prices Rally

NEW YORK, January 2 (TheStreet) -- Shares of mining company Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) closed up 5.48% to $3.27 on Friday as gold prices climbed.

Turquoise Hill Resources focuses on gold, copper, and coal mining. Gold futures for February delivery rallied 0.27% to $1,187.30 at 4:13 p.m., according to CNBC.

Earlier in the day, gold prices dipped to $1,167.30, the lowest since December 1, as the dollar rose to a four-and-a-half-year high against the euro, according to Bloomberg.

"We got some gold buying at the same time stocks sold off," George Gero, a precious metals strategist at RBC Capital Markets, told Bloomberg. "It's all about asset allocation for the beginning of the year."

More than 4 million shares changed hands Friday, compared to the daily average volume of 3,442,950.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD as a "hold" with a ratings score of C-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD (TRQ) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

·         The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Metals & Mining industry. The net income increased by 58.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$94.03 million to -$38.64 million.

·         When compared to other companies in the Metals & Mining industry and the overall market, TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD's return on equity has significantly outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.

·         44.12% is the gross profit margin for TURQUOISE HILL RESOURCES LTD which we consider to be strong. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of -8.28% is in-line with the industry average.

·         TRQ has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign. Despite the fact that TRQ's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.69, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.

·         TRQ has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 11.56% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.

·         You can view the full analysis from the report here: TRQ Ratings Report

Link to article

 

MNGGF closed flat Friday at US$0.68

MIBG: Mongolia Growth Group In The Spotlight

December 26 (MIBG) Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (MGG, TSXV:YAK, OTC:MNGGF) is a real estate development company operating in high growth sectors of Ulaanbaatar's property market. Recent press releases have brought the company into focus, including significant changes to management and board composition and the grand opening of a new flagship project.

The Tuguldur Center, opened on Friday December 19th and is already 99% leased. The income that will be generated from this project will be a significant contributor to MGG's bottom line. The project resulted from strategic land parceling and the acquisition of several distressed assets. Requiring extensive renovations, this was the first development to result from MGG's vision of an international property development and management company. Now complete, the Tuguldur Center is in the hands of MGG's property management team and will surely be a cornerstone asset in their portfolio for years to come.

While this new development is clearly a positive sign for MGG, and for the economy as a whole, sentiment towards Mongolia continues to fall. Mongolian business from all sectors will agree that pessimism has been growing over the past two and a half years and shows little sign of changing direction. Public companies focused on Mongolia have faced the brunt of this exposure. With shares falling over 60% within mining and exploration, the fall-out has forced many to reconsider their involvement in the country.

While MGG has been pushing forward, the company has not been immune to the overall view on Mongolia's economy. The company's shares have fallen from post TSX.V listing highs of C$4.25 in February 2013 to C$0.86 at close yesterday. Prior to switching from the Canadian National Exchange (CNSX) to the Toronto Venture (TSX.V) MGG was consistently trading between C$4.85 and C$3.43 from mid-2011 until the Venture listing in early 2013. Share performance for the past 12 months can be seen in the stock chart below:

Mongolia Growth Group (TSX.V:YAK) - 12 Month Chart

In reaction to the current market sentiment, MGG has taken measures to reduce its operating overhead and reinvigorate it's Board of Directors with individuals that are intimately engaged in the Mongolian economy. New board members include international finance professionals who are based in Ulaanbaatar and can contribute a wealth of experience to the company's strategy going forward.

MGG's cost saving mechanisms are expected to last well into 2015, with the stated goal of positioning MGG "to thrive regardless of the economic situation in Mongolia." Furthermore, a recent press release has stated that MGG will "dramatically reduce costs in-line with current Mongolian economic realities". This has seen a Mr. Harris Kupperman, the current Chairman and founding CEO, resume his role as CEO for zero cash compensation in 2015 and the departure of Mr. Paul Byrne who will remain as an advisor to the company.

Overall, this cost saving strategy, coupled with the opening of a new revenue generating property will be welcomed news by investors. However, the economic uncertainty looks set to continue and will likely present challenges for all Mongolian companies for the next 12-18 months. Hopefully MGG will be able to reposition itself, as stated to perform "regardless of the economic situation." Furthermore, given the current share price and the historical performance of the company's shares, MGG could be an interesting opportunity for investors with mid to long-term views for Mongolia. MGG is a company that we monitor weekly in our Market Cap Monitor, and will continue to keep a close eye on for further developments.

Link to post

 

MNP Petroleum Corp. and Stichting VB Vagobel Agree to Extend Closing Date of Private Placement Transaction

BAAR, SWITZERLAND--(Marketwired - Dec. 30, 2014) - MNP Petroleum Corp. ("MNP") (TSX VENTURE:MNP)(OTCQB:MNAP) announces that pursuant to the terms of the of the binding private placement agreement dated November 30, 2014 Stichting VB Vagobel ("Vagobel") has requested to extend the Closing date to February 19, 2015. Vagobel has informed MNP because of the slow business practice during the holiday season, Vagobel requires further time to finalize its financing facility.

Link to release

 

PCY closed +30% Friday to C$0.065

Prophecy Completes Acquisition of Pulacayo-Paca Project in Bolivia

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 2, 2015) - Prophecy Coal Corp. ("Prophecy" or the "Company") (TSX:PCY)(OTCQX:PRPCF)(FRANKFURT:1P2) is pleased to announce that it has successfully acquired Apogee Minerals Bolivia S.A., ASC Holdings Limited and ASC Bolivia LDC (which hold ASC Bolivia LDC Sucursal Bolivia, the holder of Apogee Silver Ltd.'s ("Apogee") (TSX VENTURE:APE) mining joint venture interest in the Pulacayo-Paca project) (collectively, the "Apogee Subsidiaries") from Apogee on the terms described in the Company's news release dated November 4, 2014.

Link to full release

Related:

Apogee Completes Sale of Pulacayo-Paca Silver Project to Prophecy Coal Corp. - Apogee Silver Ltd., January 2

Back to top

Local Market

MSE Weekly, December 22-26: Top 20 +0.75%, Turnover ₮1.6 Billion, ₮449.2 Million T-Bills

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange December 22-26 of 2014. In overall, six million 710 thousand and 515 shares were sold of 34 joint-stock companies totalling MNT two billion 073 million 645 thousand and 660.00.

"E-trans logistics" /six million 294 thousand and 680 units/, "Asia Pacific Properties" /350 thousand and 520 units/, "Tavantolgoi" /16 thousand and 344 units/, "Khokh gan" /12 thousand and 692 units/ and "Merex" /12 thousand and 105 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Asia Pacific Properties" (MNT 865 million 784 thousand and 400), "E-trans logistics" (MNT 629 million 467 thousand and 900), "Tavantolgoi" /MNT 70 million 272 thousand and 182/, "APU" /MNT 26 million 687 thousand and 748/ and "Material impex" (MNT eight million 806 thousand and 800).

Link to article

Link to MSE's weekly report

 

MSE News for December 31: Top 20 +0.21% to 14,854.24, Turnover 11.1 Million, BDS 1.1 Billion Issuance

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Wednesday, a total of 530 thousand and 794 units of 18 JSCs were traded costing MNT one billion 128 million 588 thousand and 676.

"E-trans logistics" /4,550 units/, "Khokh gan" /3,486 units/, "State Department Store" /673 units/, "Sharyn gol" /457 units/ and "Shivee ovoo" /218 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Sharyn gol" (MNT two million 758 thousand and 400), "Material impex" (MNT two million and 555 thousand), "Talkh chikher" (MNT two million 257 thousand and 900), "Shivee ovoo" (MNT one million and 090 thousand) and "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT 455 thousand and 300).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 442 billion 655 million 414 thousand and 438. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,854.24, increasing 30.73 units or 0.21% against the previous day.

Link to article

Link to MSE's daily report

 

6.1 Billion Worth 12-Week Treasury Bills Issues on MSE

December 30 (MSE) On 30 December 2014, 12 weeks Government retail bonds worth MNT 6,117.8 million with 15.653% annual interest rate traded successfully on primary market at Mongolian Stock Exchange. Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:

Link to release

 

MSE ALL Composite Index Made Official with 15% Impact Limit, VWAP Calculation

December 30 (MSE) Renewed "Index Calculation Regulation" approved by Board of directors meeting of MSE on 30 December 2014.

By implementing this regulation, "MSE ALL" composite Index will be calculated officially and by establishing 15 percent limit on impact for securities index in order to remove shares fluctuation of companies which are in the basket. Also closing price will be the VWAP/volume weighted average price/ calculated for all the executed trades in the trading day.  

Top-20 index will be renewed twice a year. This regulation will come into force when Financial Regulatory Commission ratifies.

Link to release

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Economy

Early morning non-cash USD rates: Khan (Buy 1,885 Sell 1,897), TDB (Buy 1,886 Sell 1,898), Golomt (Buy 1,886 Sell 1,895), XacBank (Buy 1,886 Sell 1,898), State Bank (Buy 1,885 Sell 1,898)

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, December 31 Close

 

 

12/31

12/30

12/26

12/25

12/24

12/23

12/22

12/19

USD

1,888.44

1,885.60

1,884.33

1,881.02

1,881.48

1,878.16

1,869.98

1,871.32

EUR

2,295.40

2,293.36

2,300.11

2,299.83

2,293.90

2,296.14

2,294.09

2,299.85

CNY

304.59

303.57

303.57

303.55

302.57

301.84

300.68

300.85

GBP

2,938.98

2,927.58

2,932.02

2,924.70

2,923.91

2,926.74

2,928.39

2,930.58

RUB

33.97

33.25

36.19

35.73

34.70

34.04

33.10

30.96

December MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

Mongolia Jan.-Nov. FDI Drops 71% to $582.4m Y/y: Central Bank

By Michael Kohn

December 31 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's inbound FDI fell from $1.99b yr earlier, central bank says in statement, citing preliminary data.

* 2014 current account deficit $1b at the end of November, down 66% vs $2.94b yr ago: statement

* Capital and financial accounts showed surplus of $525.4m, down 59% vs surplus of $1.29b yr ago

* Inflation for Nov. fell to 11.5% from 12.1% a month earlier: central bank

(BFW)

Link to BoM statement

 

BoM FX auction: USD, CNY bids declined, no swap offers received

December 31 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on December 31st, 2014 the BOM has received bid offer of USD CNY from local commercial banks. The BOM has not accepted any offer.

On December 31st, 2014, The BOM has not received any MNT and USD SWAP agreement offer from local commercial banks.

See also:

·         FX Auction Statistics

Link to release

 

BoM issues 207.6 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +63.2% to 426.1 billion

December 26 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 207.6 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

2015 Budget Amendments to Reflect Falling Commodity Prices

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet at its meeting on December 30 settled to present draft amendments to the State Budget and related to it laws.

This has been necessitated by a decline in prices of our main export products, caused by the changes in the world market, and in Oyu tolgoi production. These amendments will change the assumptions, reflected in the budget framework presented, to ease a possible in 2015 shortfall of estimated GDP. The documents to be presented include drafts of amendments to the State Budget framework for 2015, the Budget Assumptions for 2016-2017 and Law on Sustainability of the Budget, to the Law on Ulaanbaatar Taxation, to the General Law on Taxation, and draft annihilation of the Law on Arms' Taxation, of the Law on Taxation of Transport and Vehicles and of the Law on Taxation of Immovable Properties, and draft amendments to the Income Tax Law and a draft on Taxation of Properties.

The cabinet considers these changes will help mobilize appropriate estimations of macroeconomic indicators and of mining sector income to be collected for the State Budget and adequate planning and distribution of the State Budget.

Link to article

Similar:

Draft Amendments to 2015 Budget Laws SubmittedMontsame, December 31

 

Halting the tide of inflation

By E. Zorigt

December 26 (Mongolian Economy) My wife, the finance minister of the household, has recently been a bit dissatisfied. To blame is the poor condition of the country's economy, which has put pressure on the family budget, cut our income, and raised the price of meat and flour. Our household finance minister would not be so upset if Mongolia's Central Bank, the main organ to fight inflation, could only keep its promise to prevent prices from rising 10 percent. Mongol Bank's dream is to hold inflation at 8 percent until the end of 2014, lowering it to no more than 7 percent in 2015 and 2016. If the Central Bank did as promised, then today they would be collaborating with the government on inflation limitation, providing key links between monetary and budget policies as the two work side by side improving the macroeconomic situation. But the situation has only worsened, while prices have risen 12.1 percent. 

Inflation's rise

A detailed breakdown of inflation from the National Statistics Commission shows that the main reason behind the rising rate is the weakening of the national currency. The tugrug has weakened for two reasons. First, prices for export products have continued to fall. Second, direct foreign investment has all but disappeared. As the supply of US dollars decreases, the increase for its demand only strengthens the dollar.

There are numerous long- and medium-term factors affecting inflation. One factor is the current high denomination value of Mongolian notes. Financial adviser professor at the Business Institute of Mongolian National University, L.Oyun, clarifies: "Inflation is the rise in rate. The rate rise is expressed by the national currency. Inflation has seen the tugrug's small denominations lose their value. A survey entitled 'Demand and supply of national currency small denominations' has been conducted since 2005. In the frame of the survey, are several independent studies, one of which asks 'Is there any country without small denomination currency?' Mongolia does have a demand for small denominations." When considering the currencies of other countries, the average note is 100, while the highest might reach 2,000. Few countries have denominations as high as 5,000 or 10,000 bills. "The higher currency denominations we have, the greater the decrease in value of small denominations," says L.Oyun.

One cent, one von, one mao—each of these small denominations have little value in their respective countries. The 'Demand and supply of national currency small denominations' survey has shown that Mongolians likewise have little use for 1 to 50 tugrug bills. If we do not value the small denominations, there will be no goods available to purchase with them. In short, all products will be expressed by large denomination notes, thus resulting in even further price increases. 

Returning to small denominations

The main objectives of the monetary policy are to maintain a low and constant inflation rate, to provide the sustainability of macroeconomics and the financial sector, and to improve economic immunity. But the monetary policy is limited in its powers, and results often cannot be achieved in a short period of time. The most proven way to hold inflation in check in the short-term is monetary reform, which can generally be understood as regulating money supply. The 'Demand and supply of national currency small denominations' survey team states: "Due to present conditions, it would be better to reform the 20,000 tugrug note in the market. There are varieties of methods to reform the monetary note. A zero can be removed from the digits—even three or four zeroes. This is a way to fight inflation." If Mongolia pursues such measures to increase the monetary value, it would stop inflation's rise. Russia successfully implemented this method a few years ago. Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus had been trying to lower inflation for a long time, but they only achieved progress after instituting such currency reform. Russia turned the old 1,000 ruble note into the new 1 ruble, thus enabling the improvement of the small denomination value and inviting the appearance of cheaper goods.

Raising salaries

While prices have risen, salary rates have continued to drop. Salary sizes are known to be intimately tied to the inflation rate. Income sizes are a product of sales growth. Low income means less spending and fewer sales, as more people have less money to spend on production and services, thereby decreasing production. If the downward spiral continues long enough, you have an economic crisis. Therefore, indexation should be applied, to maintain the purchasing power of the general public during a period of prolonged inflation.

Economist J.Delgersaikhan, Professor of Financial Faculty at the Institute of Finance and Economics, notes that government wage indexation should not go beyond the level of inflation, as if wages exceed rising prices, it will only result in increased inflation. This means that the MNT 500 billion budgeted for government salary and pension growth next year should be increased to match inflation. The Ministry of Finance says that salaries and pensions could rise by 2.5 times. The Ministry is hesitant to increase salaries, as doing so would further increase the budget deficit. L.Oyun offers: "The influence the budget deficit has on the economy is interesting, as it provides economic growth. Therefore, there is no need to worry much about the budget deficit. A salary increase will raise the budget deficit, but production and products will grow with the salary increase. That is why the salary should be raised by indexation."

In conclusion

There are other methods to hold the inflation rate. China, the main contributor to our economy, raises supply in order to offset inflation. If the price of a certain product rises, China increases the supply of that product; a dominant manufacturer, China can afford such a practice. Unfortunately, J.Delgersaikhan says, Mongolia "has no such possibility to increase the supply. But we still hold prices to support domestic producers in order to have a long-term decrease of inflation. Holding the prices by force will bring nothing but a negative influence to our economy."

Link to article

 

Mogi: the new Pat

Texas Budget Writer to Help Mongolia With Its Finances

December 26 (The Texas Tribune) Early next year, John Barton will step off a plane and look out over the snow-capped foothills surrounding the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. It is one of the most remote corners of the world — and if all goes well, it is where Barton, a longtime budget writer for the state of Texas, will spend the next two to three years.

Barton is a resident adviser for the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Technical Assistance, which embeds American financial and budget specialists in governments overseas. He will be in Mongolia to share his budget-planning skills, honed over 30 years in Texas government working for the Legislative Budget Board, the nonpartisan agency that prepares the state's biennial budget documents.

Texas has been fertile ground for these boots-on-the-ground advisers, with four, including Barton, from Texas; there are more budget advisers from Texas than from any other state, said an agency spokeswoman, Holly Shulman.

Sheila Beckett, a former budget director for Gov. Bill Clements and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, is now a senior adviser to the Office of Technical Assistance program. Previously, Beckett served overseas in the post-conflict Balkan nations of Macedonia and Serbia. Her job duties now involve looking for recruits, like Barton.

The prevalence of Texans in the program is at least partially explained by the size of the state — there are more budget writers to choose from. But Beckett also pointed to Texas' early adoption of zero-base budgeting, which, unlike traditional budgeting, has departments start at zero and then justify their spending requests. She said the practice gives Texas budget planners expertise that is valuable to countries that have not used the process.

Larry McDonald, the deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Technical Assistance, added that Texas is known as a national leader in budget transparency. The state's geographic size is also relatable to a lot of the countries where the agency operates, he said.

The Treasury Department began sending budget specialists overseas more than 20 years ago. The department established the Office of Technical Assistance after the fall of the Berlin Wall to support Eastern Bloc governments as they moved to democracies and market-based economies. Since then, its scope of work has expanded to developing and transitional countries.

The office embeds American financial experts overseas in order to mentor their counterparts on good processes and procedures — not to influence policy, Beckett said.

Beckett described the resident adviser's job as "capacity building," working with younger staff members in foreign governments with the expectation that they will eventually rise to the top of their agencies.

"We work inside the government, sitting side by side with the government counterparts," Beckett said. "Many of the other aid institutions are outside the government. They sit in consultants' offices. They don't have the access to the government workers that the Treasury advisers do."

Barton expects few similarities between Texas and Mongolia. Geographically, the country is bigger than Texas — and at 3.2 million residents, it has roughly an eighth of Texas' population. A third of those Mongolians still maintain the country's traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Add a severe language barrier — "Rosetta Stone does not offer Mongolian," Barton said, joking — and the new posting feels particularly daunting. But Barton said it was a thrilling midcareer move.

"This kind of opportunity is such that I'd be happy to show up with a sleeping bag and a couple of bottles of hot sauce and work for free," Barton said.

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Politics & Legal

PM Pledges to Create Better Business Environment on New Year's Eve

Ulaanbaatar, January 2 (MONTSAME) On December 31 of 2014, the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg received businessmen and exchanged views with them on Mongolia's economic situation and on measures to be taken for the national economy.

The PM thanked the businessmen for making great efforts despite the problems in the national economy in 2014 and emphasized an importance of the businessmen-government collaboration in overcoming the difficulties. "The cabinet will do all its best to create nice conditions for business," he underlined, "the government will focus on adopting the laws on business transparency, on properties and on package laws".

A head of the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) and this meeting's organizer Ch.Lhagvajav said the government and businessmen definitely will overcome the economic difficulties, and added that first measures will be taken within six months. The wealth-makers will be the main factor to abolish the economic problems when they are provided with a financial and economic freedom, he underlined. The gathered supported it and proposed their ideas and views.   

The Premier said this meeting should be held every month. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia Launching Glass Account Website for Budget Transparency

December 31 (news.mn) The "Glass Account" law on financial transparency within the government will take effect on January 1st, 2015, and Minister of Mongolia and Head of the Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt gave a briefing on what the law will entail.

A website is now ready to be launched for glass account law operations. The website, shilendans.gov.mn, will be hosted at the Mongolia National Data Center.

The website will provide links to access budget, investment, tender, stock, and spending information about 6,088 offices, including the Office of the President, the State Great Khural, the Cabinet, state agencies, local budget funded organizations, and state owned companies.

The website is designed to allow the public and civil servants to directly access state financial information with ease.

The site is seen as the first version of an online governance web portal, which will include a wide range of information about state agency activities. S.Bayartsogt commented that the website will be improved further.

The Finance Minister will run the website according to the Glass Account law.

Link to article

Related:

Website of "Glass" Account to Become Available SoonMontsame, December 31

 

Cabinet Approves Operational Structures of Ministries

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet at its meeting on December 30 adopted programs on function' strategies and structure changes of every of 14 Ministries.

This has been done due to recent changes in structures and compositions of Ministries. The programs determine their priorities, goals, operational strategies and main objectives, outline their departments' general responsibilities, directions, activities and operations, and highlight ways of coordinating ties between the Ministries and with localities' administrations.

The adoption of the documents provides the Ministries with a regularity in activities, adequate definition of responsibilities and accountability mechanism.

Link to article

 

Cabinet Dissolves Border Port Administrations

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet decided on December 30 to dismiss all administrations of border ports and to assign their responsibilities to the related authorities of customs.

This has been done due to the duplications of general and subsidiary roles with other border control authorities, and in accordance with the parliamentary resolution No.70, which obligates the cabinet to present within the first quarter of 2015 the proposal on refining the structures and vacancies of the state bodies and on dismissing/integrating certain agencies, offices, units and state-run institutions along with the budget clarifications.  

A total of 128 posts, their payroll funds and operational costs of the dismissed administrations have been transferred to the subsidiary organizations of the General Authority of Customs.

Link to article

 

Cabinet Approves Mining Ministry to Adopt New Permitting Rules

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) At the cabinet meeting on Monday, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Austria Mr G.Batjargal was authorized to sign an export credit contract for a project on improving firefighting techniques and facilities of the emergency services of Mongolia.

This project will be implemented in frames of a Mongolia-Austria intergovernmental agreement on the financial cooperation. With a soft-loan from the Austrian government, firefighting facilities will be given to Mongolia's emergency services. At a national level, our emergency service has currently 198 firefighting vehicles, a half of them are made in 1967-1990 and their utilization time has expired.

- The cabinet discussed a matter on giving a right to adopt a draft new wording of the rule for selection of granting special licenses. Then it decided to authorize a state body in charge of geology and mining affairs to approve the rule in accordance with the law on minerals, after reflecting some proposals from Ministers.

- The cabinet approved a rule of administrating and utilizing the general data of families, which gives information on families livelihood nationwide. This data is used when the government implements various policies, porgrammes and activities to deliver social welfare and state allowances to people.

- From January 1 of 2015, the rule on giving one year non-refundable assistance to state servants will come into force. 

- The cabinet backed governmental principle and directions for establishing a trilateral agreement on labour and social agreement for 2015-2016.

Link to article

 

Government to dissolve 26 funds in cost-cutting, including Human Development, Clean Air

December 30 (news.mn) The government has decided to dissolve 26 foundations including the Clean Air Foundation, the Fund to Support Mongolian Studies, the State Education Training Fund, the Human Development Fund, Mongolian Health Promotion Fund, and Road Fund of Mongolia following research on funding.

The new government announced that it would put policy in place for nationwide cost cutting to endure economic distress. In its belt-tightening policy, the government will cut 1,500 civil servant jobs, monthly state welfare allowances for children and students, and to dissolve useless state agencies and funds.

The Clean Air Fund has been a target of criticism since its founding. The fund distributed low-smoke stoves to households, but conducted no efficient measures to reduce air pollution.

The fund spent a large amount of money from the government budget, and former officials in charge of the fund were charged with embezzling 1.9 billion MNT. There are currently dozens of projects and programs designed to reduce air pollution now working in the city, but there is no apparent reduction of air pollution.

The government has decided to dissolve the Clean Air Fund and merge it with the National Committee for Reducing Air Pollution.

The State Education Training Fund is also being considered for dissolution, as it is seen as having no significant role beyond distributing and monitoring monthly allowances for students in higher education programs.

The Human Development Fund's function is left uncertain, since it has distributed 20,000 MNT in allowance to all citizens.

Link to article

 

Composition of Some Standing Committees Changed

Ulaanbaatar, December 26 (MONTSAME) A plenary meeting of the parliamentary session on Friday adopted a resolution on changing the composition of parliamentary Standing committees.

Accordingly, Yo.Otgonbayar was freed from the Standing committee on security and foreign policy; O.Sodbileg, Ts.Tsolmon and J.Erdenebat--from the committee on environment, food and agriculture; J.Batsuuri--from the committee on social policy, education, culture and science; D.Sumyabazar and B.Choijilsuren--from the committee on petitions; Ch.Khurelbaatar, R.Burmaa and D.Erdenebat--from the Standing committee on state structure; S.Bayartsogt and D.Khayankhyarvaa--from the Standing committee on budget; and N.Nomtoibayar and D.Oyunkhorol--from the committee on justice.

Accordingly, the Standing committee on security and foreign policy has now new one--O.Sodbileg; Standing committee on environment, food and agriculrure--N.Nomtoibayar, Ch.Khurelbaatar and S.Oyun; Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and science--D.Sumyabazar; on petitions--D.Arvin, J.Batsuuri and D.Khayankhyarvaa; on state structure--N.Batbayar, Kh.Temuujin and O.Sodbileg; on budget--Ya.Sanjmyatav and B.Choijilsuren; and the Standing committee on justice--S.Byambatsogt and Yo.Otgonbayar. 

Link to article

 

MNB demands an apology from Speaker on "binge-drinking" comments

December 26 (news.mn) The State Great Khural appointed members of the National Council of Mongolian National Broadcaster Television and Radio (MNB) during Thursday's plenary session meeting. But the Speaker of Parliament made remarks against MNB that outraged staff and workers of the broadcasting company.

Speaker Z.Enkhbold said during the appointments that MNB, the largest state-owned broadcaster with a team of 700 staff, airs copies of pirated foreign movies without official broadcasting rights, and that it is a place of binge-drinking.

Staff and workers at MNB responded by saying that the Speaker's remarks were offensive and demanded an apology to the team at MNB.

In response to the demand for an apology, Speaker Z.Enkhbold apologized for remarks offending MNB staff and workers, but commented that the remarks about binge drinking were directed at MNB directors like M.Naranbaatar, but not at the 700 staff and workers.

Link to article

 

Annual New Year's Greeting by President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj

January 1 (infomongolia.com) As customary, Presidents of countries across the world address to their people with New Year's Greetings and this time, President of Mongolia, Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ delivered a speech from the factory of the "Erdenet" Mining Corporation, Erdenet City, which was broadcasted nationwide on the New Year's Eve.

New Year's Greetings to his Nation by the President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj

My fellow citizens,

I am glad to extend New Year's greetings from the Erdenet city, where I started working 33 years ago. Erdenet mine is a symbol of our eternal friendship and a wonderful creation that inspires our people's creation.

It is time for us to create. In the last few years, a number of factories have been opened in Mongolia, accelerating the creation.

For instance, construction material manufacturers, iron processing plants, food production companies and other key factories are complete and ready for commissioning. Creation in our country is arising against the economic setback.

Mongolia has recorded a trade surplus in outgoing year of 2014. It is also proof of growing creation in Mongolia. Number of livestock has reached a record high of 52 million, which means it has more than doubled the result 25 years ago.

Last spring Mongolia planted in 313 thousand hectares and collected 520 thousand tons of crops harvest this autumn and this was the record result in last 17 years.

Last autumn Heads of State of our neighboring countries visited our country and at the initiative of Mongolia, the first formal trilateral meeting between Mongolia, Russia and China was successfully held.

Mongolia has won the right to host the next 11th ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar in 2016. In 2014 Mongolia signed the Economic Partnership Agreement, Agreement on Transparency and Millennium Challenge Corporation has selected Mongolia as eligible to develop a second compact.

The year of 2014 brought the foreign relations and international cooperation of Mongolia to a new stage of development, spreading a positive image of Mongolia to the world.

This year was the 25th Anniversary of the Democratic Revolution and the 75th Historical Anniversary of the Victory of Khalkhyn Gol Battle. We have exceeded our previous achievements in culture and sports.

Dear citizens,

We shall bid farewell to 2014 and welcome New Year 2015. Let us strive to reinforce our previous achievements and accomplish far more in 2015. I believe that in a close cooperation with our Parliament, Government and other public organizations we will move Mongolia forward and advance in positive directions. Respecting accountability and creation is of utmost importance for Mongolia. This issue was recently discussed at the level of Parliament and Government of Mongolia.

Budget Transparency Law or "A Glass Account Law" will enter into force on January 1st, 2015, allowing citizens to control and monitor the expenditure of taxpayers' money.

Moreover, next year we plan to submit to the Parliament the following draft laws including the Law on Public Hearing, Law on Accountability of Elected and Appointed Officials, General Administrative Law, Law on Civic Participation, Law on Future Legacy Fund and other laws that will respect citizens' interest, remind officials to accountability and contribute to establishing the rule of law in Mongolia.

I do hope and believe that the coming year 2015, will be a year of progress and advancement. I am confident that Mongolians will not waste a single precious moment in 2015. Time is the most valuable investment for Mongolia and is more expensive than the foreign currency. The coming New Year will be of historical importance and will be equal to the future development of a decade in Mongolia.

I would like to call on my people to be creative and responsible, facing challenges, taking advantage of every opportunity and not wasting time. I extend this call and extend my greetings to all my countrymen joyfully waiting to meet the New Year who reside in the four directions and eight azimuths of the world.

I also wish a happy New Year to the representatives and collectives from the world countries and international organizations.

Fellow citizens,

Mongolia is expected to welcome its three millionth citizen on the eve of the 27th anniversary of Mongolian population reached two million. With all our will and might Mongolians are growing many. Next year, Government and healthcare organizations will make more commitment and pay more close attention to the health of our mothers and children.

I appreciate and wish a happy New Year to doctors, police officers, firefighters, emergency staff, soldiers, patients and every single person on duty and official service at the moment. The coming year of 2015 will be a prosperous year fully loaded with new ideas and creations. From the humming factory of Erdenet, which is the source of an intensive creation, I wish happiness and all the best to our elders, children and all the families.

Let the New Year be a propitious year for every person. And I would like to raise this bowl of milk to the happiness and wellbeing of every family and home.

Once again, I wish a Happy New Year!

Have a wonderful New Year!

Link to article

Related:

New Year Address to Mongolians of President Ts.ElbegdorjMontsame, January 2

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Business

EBRD helps Mongolian retailer Nomintav expand with $12 million senior loan

By Svitlana Pyrkalo

December 23 (EBRD) The EBRD is continuing to support private sector companies in Mongolia with a US$ 12 million senior loan to support Nomintav Trade LLC, one of the country's leading retailers for fast-moving consumer goods, apparel and consumer electronics, a subsidiary of Nomin Group.

This is the EBRD's first transaction with this well-diversified group in Mongolia with operations in retail, trading, manufacturing, construction and financial services.

Nomintav Trade will use the funding to fulfill its long-term expansion plan into the region, which will see the company open six wholesale and retail stores in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and in the regions. 

The new stores will not only serve growing demand for consumer goods outside of the capital but will also create new jobs. In addition, the EBRD will provide grants for technical cooperation, energy audits and project preparation. 

The retail market in Mongolia is centered on food, clothing, home goods and electronics, and Nomin Group plays a significant role in each of these sectors.  

"The EBRD financing will enable us to expand our retail and wholesale operations. In an effort to contribute to reducing air pollution in and around Ulaanbaatar, we will also install solar panels in our new stores, thus demonstrating the potential of renewable energy. And of course new jobs and better access to goods that people need we will be contributing to the Mongolian economy as a whole," said Mr. Bayarsaikhan Shagdarsuren, Chairman of Nomin Group. 

"The EBRD is proud to support a company within Nomin Group – the fastest-growing, leading consumer goods retailer in Mongolia that is responding to opportunities brought about by consumer demand. As the largest financial investor in Mongolia, we aim to support dynamic domestic companies such as Nomintav Trade," said Masaru Honma, EBRD Director for Central Asia. 

Since the beginning of its operations in Mongolia in 2006, the EBRD has invested over €1 billion in over 64 projects in different sectors of the economy, mobilizing an additional €1.4 billion from other sources of financing. All of the EBRD investment in Mongolia has been in the private sector.

Link to release

 

Mongolia Seeks Continued German Support for Sustainable Agricultural Development

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa received on December 30 the Ambassador of Germany to Mongolia Mr Gerhard Thiedemann, to discuss the "Mongolia-Germany Sustainable Agricultural Development" project being implemented here by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany.

In frames of the project, leading technologies are being introduced to Mongolia in colza and potato plantings. An agreement on Cooperation between the Ministries, signed in 2011, is being realized successfully in plantings of colza and potato on fields of "Agrocomplex" LLC in Tov aimag and of "Elite Seed" LLC in Selenge aimag.

The Minister requested Mr Thiedemann's support for the second phase of the implementation of the above project and of the further projects to be realized in establishing a model dairy farm and in developing cooperatives of herders.

The Ambassador agreed to show support and to appoint for her meetings with the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture of Germany and with other related officials during the "Green Week" international expo expected in Berlin next month and the Summit of Ministries of Food and Agriculture.

Link to article

 

Tourism Minister Meets German Ambassador on Mongolia's Partnership with ITB Berlin

Ulaanbaatar, December 31 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol MP Monday received Mr Gerhard Thiedemann, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to Mongolia. The latter congratulated Ms Oyunkhorol on being appointed the Minister.

Then the sides exchanged views on several issues such as upcoming participation of Mongolia in the ITB Berlin 2015 international exhibition. The ITB Berlin, considered the largest international exhibition of tourism, will definitely give to Mongolia a big opportunity to gain big experiences, Mr Thiedemann emphasized. He expressed a satisfaction with Mongolia's attaching a great importance to the exhibition, and with a plan on having Mongolian President to deliver a speech at the exhibition.

Mongolia is ensuring a preparation for the ITB Berlin exhibition, Ms Oyunkhorol said and added that all related issues will be tackled at the governmental level.

Mongolia and Germany have the experience in implementing specific projects and programmes on environmental matter. The government of Mongolia is maintaining a policy on continue these projects and abolishing some difficulties and obstacles, the Minister said.

The Ambassador said that outcomes of some of these projects were good, but partly, for example, the programme "Adaptation of forest rivers and eco-systems to the changes of biological diversities and climate" is being implemented successfully with a support from Germany, but a EUR 11.5 million worth project on reserving biological diversities and their adaptation to the climate change has faced problems.

Mr Thiedemann also underlined that Mongolia should reserve its protected natural areas in order to develop the tourism sector, adding that these programmes will help Mongolia fulfill these goals. He said he intends to collaborate with the Minister in developing the responsible mining and in introducing good technologies for environmental rehabilitation.

Ms Oyunkhorol supported the Ambassador's initiatives. 

Link to article

 

"Trapped Abroad" - Highest-Grossing Mongolian Film of 2014

Ulaanbaatar, December 29 (MONTSAME) Authority for Fair Competition and Customer's Rights has issued a list of highest-grossing films of 2014. Among such 39 screened, a "Trapped Abroad" has topped the list, having made income of MNT 433 million.

This film is about an officer of the Authority for Foreign Nationals who goes to China in order to solve a dispute with a criminal group that transfers illegal Chinese work force to Mongolia, then falls into a deeper problem by having killed a member of the group and gets chased by them.

The film has drawn attentions of the audience, having shown a pressing issue of the Chinese illegal immigrants in Mongolia. The "Trapped Abroad" is directed by J.Sengedorj and is starred by B.Amarsaikhan.  

It was followed by "The Heartbreaker"–with income of MNT 424 million, "Shock of Happiness"-- MNT 371 million, "Double Strike"-- MNT 325 million, "Special Operation"-- MNT 294 million, "My brother is a chieftain"--MNT 324 million, and "You are the finest"--MNT 116 million.

Link to article

 

Revising the VAT

By B. Bayartogtokh

December 30 (Mongolian Economy) It has been while since the government handed a draft bill for VAT (Value-added tax) reform to Parliament. "The bill aims to create a stable business environment by fulfilling fair and clear regulations for taxation as well as supporting economic growth," says Former Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan. Scheduled for debate in the spring session, the bill was shifted to the fall session for further discussion. If the delays continue, the bill might not see progress until next year.

Mongolia's VAT law, introduced in 1998, has been revised around 30 times in the past 16 years. Changes made so frequently have caused tax loopholes and discounts to expand beyond a reasonable limit, say experts. This has crippled today's taxation system, states the National Committee for Supporting the Private Sector. The Ministry of Finance opposes such an argument, however, saying it is the nature of taxation to allow discounts and loopholes. As a result, disputes related to taxation have increased.

Reformed VAT draft bills were handed to Parliament twice in the past three years. Neither were approved. The newest try is the third for VAT. This time it's the current government and not the opposition group that is proposing the law—thus, there's an expectation that it will be approved.

Why VAT?

VAT is considered to be the most effective form of taxation for small countries. However, some criticize VAT for encouraging small-scale, cash-based services that avoid paying taxes. According to unofficial data, there are over 2,000 enterprises operating illegally in Mongolia—doing business while paying no VAT.

Additional changes have been considered for the current VAT law, such as incorporating trade taxes. According to parliament member S.Bayartsogt, VAT is more efficient for Mongolia than trade taxes. Mongolia has some experience in trade taxes, which have been imposed on manufacturing, import and wholesale trades. Trade taxes are deducted apart from other forms of taxation, which can lead to tax duplication and sometimes tax evasion—reason enough to reject this form of taxation.

Since 2000, taxation income has increased by 23 times, while the state budget increased by 10 times and the economy expanded by 14 times. For this reason, taxation regulations need additional changes and updates. The VAT reform bill aims to improve the current law, enable a more streamlined tax code, and expose the underground economy.

"VAT is regarded as a mechanism to bring order to the financial reports of an organization, enterprise or person. It also decreases the shadow economy and brings the monetary flow under government monitoring", said D.Onchinsuren, Director of Deloitte Onch Audit in Ulaanbaatar. The threshold bracket of MNT 50 million in the bill has caught much attention. According to private sector associates, the threshold of MNT 50 million—under USD 27,000 per year—to be imposed by the Minister of Finance might cause tax evasion by many smaller enterprises. That VAT bill also looks to enable 50 percent of enterprises throughout the country to shift from a paper-based report and invoice system to an online taxation service.

Senior lecturer at the Institute of Finance and Economics Ch.Unurjargal says, "VAT has become a tool to increase the budget. This has caused the true nature and ideology of the law to disappear. One disadvantage of the law is there are too many discounts and loopholes. If the government wants to support manufacturers, it should go for income taxation and not indirect consumer taxation." Parliament member Ts.Oyunbaatar, supporting Unurjargal's ideas, says "Everyone must pay VAT. To make people pay taxes, unnecessary discounts and loopholes must be eliminated. Only a few policy related discounts must stay. The others must be eliminated to as few as possible."

Entities that pay VAT account for 34 percent in total taxed income, and 85 percent in state budget income. But they make up only 1.25 percent of total enterprises. According to Ch.Nergui, Head of the Policy Planning and Coordination Department at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the draft bill, if approved, will increase taxation pressure on tax payers. Many experts criticise the fact that VAT has already been a burden to those who pay it. Businesses insist decreasing VAT to 5 percent will be significant for Mongolia, as it is a developing country and needs government assistance to spur growth.

Currently, VAT exists to make money for the state budget. Total taxation income consisted of 19 percent from VAT in 2000. Now the number has reached 32 percent. As VAT's importance in the budget grows, reform must follow.

Link to article

 

Shake-Ups in Mongolia's Construction Industry

By S. Batzaya

December 31 (Mongolian Economy) For many, the development of a country can at some level be determined by the appearance of its streets and buildings as well as the life-style of the people and the living standards of its citizens. If true, how does Mongolia measure?

The construction work underway throughout Ulaanbaatar is readily apparent, but this extensive urbanisation does not retain much space for playgrounds or quiet, secluded spots for the elderly to sit and relax. And the growing number of new buildings does little to reduce the number of ger district residents. In fact, the number of ger district residents is on the rise. Currently, 189,000 households reside in ger districts.

Between 2010 and 2012, around 30,000 new apartments were commissioned each year. Professional organisations in construction said this was not enough, however.

The crux is a lack of foreign investment for construction – but it is not for a lack of trying. For example, the sector comprises 10 percent of total foreign direct investment in Mongolia last year. Yet, only a mere USD 150 million of investment out of a potential USD 700 million made it to companies.

These figures are low for an emerging market such as Mongolia. Foreign investors interested in Mongolia see the economic growth, opportunities for investment, and the development of financial structure, but, despite the need for foreign investment, Mongolia's mistreatment of foreign investors has chased them away.

Mongolian-made materials

Meanwhile housing construction is on the rise. A research team established by a partnership between the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the Construction Development Center found that 20,000 apartments received registration certificates last year compared with 35,000 to 36,000 this year.

Construction output increased 70 percent last year from the commissioning of 20,000 apartments in Ulaanbaatar and 7,000 outside the city. Some 17,105 citizens have transitioned to a new mortgage programme thanks to the 8 percent a year loan interest program backed by the central bank. That program opened the door to home ownership to 14,685 new citizens, lending MNT 430 billion to 97 construction companies to help finance the completion of unfinished   construction projects.

One of six mechanisms brought out by the Price Stabilization Programme is still running today. This year the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development is more focused on contributing to the production of building materials rather than whether or not their prices remain consistent. Mongolia is set to rid itself of its dependence on imported building materials, including cement and steel reinforcement.

The government recently announced that it would provide funding of MNT 1 billion to projects that would help domestic production replace imported goods. The government has so far approved 50 out of 1,151 projects submitted.

"A Khutul cement and chalk factory, for example, has been established in Khutul. Darkhan and Nalaikh factories and are to produce 700,000 tonnes of cement a year," said Construction and Urban Development minister Tsevelmaagiin Bayarsaikhan. "There will be some stone crushing plants with the capacity of crushing more than 300,000 tonnes of stone a year.

"In this case, land and infrastructure issues to install these plants need to be tackled by the government so that the price of apartments could be decreased," he said.

Two amendments for the current mortgage programme have been written. They would, for example, create the opportunity for mortgages to apartments of more than 80 square metres. There is also a resolution for the state to lead the way for the construction of up to 200 houses. Infrastructure will be built for new apartment blocks at what are currently ger districts. MNT 5 million to MNT 7 billion is expected to be spent from the proceeds of the Chinggis bond for the engineering of a pipeline network to connect with 1,000 new apartments.

Infrastructure issues are also being tackled in the provinces of Dornogobi, Umnugobi, Uvurkhangai, Khentii, Selenge, Tuv, Bayankhongor, Orkhon, Darkhan-Uul, Bulgan and Arkhangai.

Additionally, production for building and insulation materials is being developed. Last year more than 150 new factories and plants opened, according to the Mongolian Association of Building Material Producers. Some 260 types of equipment were exempt from customs tax totalling MNT 2.9 billion and value-added tax worth MNT 6.2 billion.  

Investment vs. Management

Construction and real estate are seen by many investors and analysts as far less risky than mining. Still, legal uncertainties triggered a mass exodus of foreign investors, which was detrimental to the economy as a whole rather than any one sector.

When investors employ their due diligence to measure market potential in Mongolia they often find that yields fall short of inflation and decide to save their money instead. A common mistake made by Mongolian companies is they completely forego the need to develop a strategy for management.

"Mongolian companies do nothing with management after they've attained foreign investment," said B. Naranjargal, chief executive at UMC Alpha.

"Typically, if a company can satisfy its investors with initial project goals, the next investors become more willing to invest in those companies. But this does not happen in Mongolia, mainly due to the lack of management among these companies," she said.

For government, special attention will be needed in the tax environment to protect investors' interests. The role of companies will be to ensure that projects start without too many problems. And although guarantees can ease some investor anxieties for project financing, Mongolian firms are rarely able to provide it.

Freeing up the market and providing additional players in finance – such as a sovereign funds, pension funds, and insurance agencies – would provide more routes to lead investment towards real estate. If the government could get the ball rolling inside the country, perhaps the foreign investors would take notice.

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Ulaanbaatar

New 6km Dunjingarav-Uliastai road with bicycle path opens

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) A ceremony was held for the opening of six kilometer road connecting the Dunjingarav market with the Uliastai crossroad on December 30.

The new road has been run by "Khansuun Zam" LLC, with 15 meters wide and bicycle path. A construction was financed by MNT 10.8 billion from the Ulaanbaatar budget. According to officials, train tunnel and a bridge crossing will be constructed eventually, and a number restriction for cars will not be effective on this road.

Present at the opening were the Deputy Mayor in charge of Road, Transport and Infrastructure of Ulaanbaatar N.Gantomor, a director of the Ulaanbaatar Authority of Roads D.Nanzaddorj, and a director of "Khansuun Zam" Kh.Altansukh.

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Ulaanbaatar merges all city-owned bus companies to improve service

December 26 (news.mn) In accordance with a decree by Governor of Ulaanbaatar, public transportation service provider companies Bus-1, Bus-3 and the city's electric bus company have been closed down.

City owned Passenger Transport Unit has begun the merging of the bus companies into a single unit in order to improve public transportation, service culture, accountability, and to reduce operating costs.

Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar in charge of Finance and Economic Issues N.Bataa approved the organizational and staff structure for the new unit.

Passenger Transport Unit will operate with 1,658 employees and launch a new public services, including a digital bus pass, in spring. Everyone who uses public transportation will be expected to use the new digital bus pass in place of paper tickets.

Seniors, people with disabilities, and students will be able to use the bus passes with state compensation.

Link to article

 

Mayor Celebrates New Year with 1000 Orphans

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) At the initiative of the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, a New Year's Party ran for children at Nairamdal children's camp on December 27. It was dedicated to the thousand children from 32 orphanages that operate in Ulaanbaatar.

The Mayor E.Bat-Uul said in his opening remarks that he appreciates the opportunity to have these kids participate in such an event and promised to organize it every year.

The children were divided into groups and had a tour around eight stations, including various tournaments such as teller, paintball, minefield, Santa's house and remote-controlled balls, each of which received a group for fifteen minutes.

Mr Bat-Uul handed presents after which 100 children from the Children's Palace, Music and Choreography College and eight aimags gave a performance. 

Present were also Chief of Staff of the Mayor's Office Yo.Gerelchuluun and Hero of Labour and Olympic Champion E.Badar-Uugan. 

Link to article

 

Photo News: Silver Night of Ulaanbaatar, December 31, 2014

January 1 (infomongolia.com) On the New Year's Eve, the Capital City Municipality successfully organized the "Silver Night of Ulaanbaatar" public celebration at the Chinggis Square from 08:00 pm to 00:00 am, where "Shar Airag", "Sweetymotion", "Nuans", "3 Okhin" and "V.R" bands along with music composer, pianist B.Chinbat, pop diva S.Naran and singer D.Bold have performed and shared their holiday with civilians.

At the public celebration, Mayor of UB Erdene BAT-UUL greeted the public and noted in his address that on this year's night gathered more people than last year, despite it was colder and wished all the best in the coming 2015 Year.

Link to article

Similar:

Chinggis Khaan Square Celebrates New Year with All-Star ConcertMontsame, January 2

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Diplomacy

President creates National Organizing Committee for 2016 ASEM Summit

December 31 (news.mn) Mongolia has won the bid to host the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in 2016. President Ts.Elbegdorj issued a decree to create a National Council in charge of organizing and providing guidance for the event.

President Ts.Elbegdorj appointed PM Ch.Saikhanbileg as chair, Foreign Affairs Minister L.Purevsuren and Chief of Staff of the Office of the President of Mongolia P.Tsagaan as vice chairs, and Finance Minister, Road and Transport Minister, Minister of Mongolia and head of Cabinet Secretariat, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia, Advisor to the President of Mongolia for International Public Affairs, Senior Advisor to Speaker, Senior Advisor to the PM, and head of the working group of the National Security Council of Mongolia as members of the National Council.

State Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Mongolia was made Secretary of the National Council with an appendix to the decree.

Link to article

 

Mongolia and France to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties in 2015

December 26 (infomongolia.com) The first workshop to discuss organizational issues of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the French Republic was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar on December 25, 2014.

The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren and in his remarks noted that the Government of Mongolia pays particular attention to develop the partnership with France as the "third neighbor" and affirmed that the relations and cooperation with the country have been actively developing.

At the meeting, Mongolia-France Friendship Group at the Parliament, MP N.Battsereg, who is appointed to chair the working group as well as State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry B.Boldbaatar and representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Finance, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and Mongolia-France Friendship Association were present.

Mongolia and the French Republic have established the diplomatic relations on April 27, 1965.

Link to article

Related:

Mongolia and France to mark 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationsnews.mn, December 26

 

Minister Oyunkhorol Talks Pollution, Tourism Cooperation with Turkish Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, December 29 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia Mr Murat Karagoz has met the newly appointed Ministers of Defense, of Food and Agriculture, of Environment Green Development and Tourism and of Foreign Affairs.

The Minister of Environment D.Oyunkhorol and the Ambassador discussed cooperation in reducing Ulaanbaatar's air and soil pollution, waste disposal and in tourism development. The Ambassador promised to focus on supporting Mongolian environmental professionals to have specialized trainings in Turkey. He also handed an official invitation to the Minister, inviting her to the Botanical Expo to be held in Turkey in 2016.

Cooperation of the two countries in environmental sphere began in 1998, and Memorandums of Understanding were signed in 2006 and 2009. At the support of Turkey, three projects are being implemented--the "Smoke-free stove" project in Ulaanbaatar, a project on building Water Power Station in Bayan-Olgii aimag, and a project on building a water treatment plant in the city's Khan-Uul district with an estimated cost of USD 20 million.

The 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Turkey was marked this year.

Link to article

Related:

Deputy PM Receives Turkish AmbassadorMontsame, December 30

 

TALK WITH ME with Allyson Seaborn: Murat Karagoz, Turkish Ambassador to Mongolia

December 28 (Star TV) --

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Social, Environmental & Other

No More Customs Duty for Parcels Under 1.92 Million

Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (GoGo Mongolia) Jan 2, first day of 2015 came in with more good news for those who receive parcel from abroad. Most of the parcels going through the Customs at postal offices in Mongolia include items for private use, including clothing items, cosmetics, children clothes, books, food items and supplements, mostly sent by the Mongolians living abroad or families of the expatriates living and working in Mongolia. Many were frustrated with the taxes imposed on such small and non-commercial items, becoming the main reason of drawback on the services for the shipping agencies and entities and being the most complained topic.

Therefore non-commercial items with total sum not exceeding MNT 1,920,000 (amount 10 times of the lowest wage) are to accepted without any tax charges, easing the customs clearing process and distinguising the possibilities of misusing the law on commercial parcels. The amount was set in view of the suggestions received from General Customs Authority, Communication Regulation Commisions and entities operating in shipping services. The amendment was made to the Provision 38, which states the tax exempt items. 

Below is the extract amendment to the law on customs taxes:

Amendments to Law on Customs Tariffs and Customs Taxes

Provision 1. To add the clause 38.1.15 to the clause 38 of the Law on Customs Tariffs and Customs Taxes:

"38.1.15. International postal parcel for personal consumption, not including two items of the same content and not exceeding the sum equal to ten times of current lowest wage "

Provision 2. The law is to take effect starting January 1st of 2015. 

Speaker of State Great Khural

Z.Enkhbold

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De Facto: Mongolia's great spiritual shift – Dalai Lama interview summary

By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa

January 4 (UB Post) During my journey to India to interview His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for the "defacto" television program, I was thinking about how I could ensure that the great Dalai Lama, the living Buddha, could bolster the aspiration of Mongolians to have a prosperous life. I had an impression that even though we have always discussed making an economic and political transition for the last 20 years, a significant spiritual shift that is also taking place has been neglected. I would like to present to you a summary of the interview that was done with the Dalai Lama about these transitions. It seems that it is only now that we are about to get out of this obscure spiritual mist.

SHIFT IN SOCIAL CONSCIENCE

My first question in the interview, which took place in a hotel room, was about the outcomes of Mongolia's spiritual transition of 25 years being not evident enough. The main message in the Dalai Lama's answer to this question was that Buddhism is regaining its momentum, and it is hard to eradicate the view of the religion as seen from the history of countries such as China, Russia, and Mongolia, which attempted – without success- to get rid of Buddhism and spirituality at different times in the past.

The Dalai Lama says that when he visited Mongolia for the first time in 1979, it seemed that no one held any religious beliefs. However, when he met people one-on-one, the Dalai Lama could feel that they actually were religious.

However, the Dalai Lama continued, saying that although Mongolia has transitioned to capitalism and its people are acquiring a more modern education, many are measuring development with – and being more attracted to – material wealth. Everywhere, there are many rich people who are living for tangible wealth and money. Nevertheless, as time goes by, people are coming to realize that their wealth does not bring inner peace. Those people who have realized that are seeking the meaning of life, rather than money and wealth.

The lifestyle and culture of Mongolians is inseparable from Buddhism. The Dalai Lama believes that it is one of the unique features of Mongolians and will produce the greatest impact on the great spiritual shift.

In order to maintain our traditional values as we go through this historical shift, it is important to not only profess Buddha, but to also promote the knowledge and education about why we hold such beliefs. Buddhist teachings are based on education, knowledge, and the meaning behind everything. Therefore, Buddhist philosophy, especially Buddhist psychology, is technically regarded as a non-religious education. As it is an academic area, rather than religious one, it can be used in our education system. This is one example of how we can link Buddhist teachings with modern development. The Dalai Lama says that this is how a new level of spirituality can be achieved.

DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM

The society being built in Mongolia today can be called democratic capitalism. My next question was focused on the Dalai Lama's opinion on whether he agreed that this democratic capitalism is the best system among all that have ever been tried. He gave a much clearer and more direct answer than I expected.

The Dalai Lama says that democracy, as a political system, is the only path for the future of humanity. He explains that the true owners of the this world are the seven billion people living in it, not a political party, a religious leader, a king, or a queen. The people are always going to be there. Therefore, the Dalai Lama has put an end to Tibet's 400-year-old tradition in 2011 by retiring from being a political leader and fully freeing himself of political duties and responsibilities.

The Dalai Lama stressed that there should be a democratic system where the people choose their political leader, who bears responsibility for them. The people must be able to replace the leader if they fail to fulfill their responsibilities. He says that, despite the occasional, few faults, a democratic system is the best.

On the other hand, capitalism is the only system that gives an individual the freedom to fully realize one's potentials and be as creative as one can be. The centrally planned economic system does not provide such opportunities and restricts one's aspirations to create. However, the experiences of many developed countries demonstrate that a capitalist system should be regulated with independent institutions that passes laws, implements them, and monitors their implementation. The Dalai Lama says that it is not an easy job, but it can be done with joint efforts from the people.

THE POISON OF CORRUPTION

I asked the Dalai Lama how this poison that has diffused in Mongolia can be stopped. The Dalai Lama says that corruption is a cancer that is spread throughout the world. It can be stopped when there are educated people, a healthy society, the rule of law, an independent judiciary system, and, most importantly, freedom of the press. Everything that is faulty and deceitful is concealed. It should be disclosed and available to the public. This is how everything should be. Freedom can never be forgotten. The Dalai Lama says that these things can only exist in a society where there is freedom. However, one cannot misuse freedom. He says that it is extremely important to have press freedom and an independent judiciary system.

At the end of our interview, the Dalai Lama said, "Mongolia is a free country. Your economy is growing at a sufficient rate. Of course, there are difficult issues. But, generally, I see that your country is developing. Therefore, your country has a bright future ahead. However, development should not only be looked at from a materialistic angle, but also be linked with your inner spirituality. When that happens, Mongolians can have a truly happy, prosperous life."

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What Parents Everywhere Can Learn From This Trailblazing Toy Maker from Mongolia

by Mark Hay

December 26 (GOOD) On a side street in the less-than-touristy eastern section of downtown Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, tucked behind a tent-shaped building half-gutted by fire, you might just manage to find a four-story pink building. Notched with knobby, knot-shaped decorations, it's distinctive for the neighborhood, but invisible from the nearby main thoroughfare, Peace Avenue. Yet inside this hidden low-rise is one of the world's most whimsical, engaging, and underappreciated cultural galleries, the misleadingly named International Intellectual Museum.

All those who enter expecting to find some dry, poster board exhibits on the great minds of Mongolia and the world will be delightfully disappointed. The museum is actually an homage to puzzles, stacked high with traditional Mongolian logic games, hundreds of chess sets made from every material imaginable (some of them made of puzzle boards and pieces), and hundreds of puppets and knickknacks from all over, including one of the world's oldest dolls, several thousand years old and uncovered in a Peruvian tomb. The artifacts occupy every corner of every floor of the building, and the museum is always growing—they added a new exhibit on the top floor just this year. But the museum isn't just some giant junk room. It has a philosophy.

Toys are charged and powerful philosophical, mathematical, and technological learning tools. They can tell you something about the values of a nation—like how Mongol puzzles carry mythic images, religious symbols, and the basic guidelines for how to set up a nomadic tent, or ger. So according to this philosophy, toys ought to be made with care and thought, disseminated widely, and, shown the same respect as any other traditionally high-brow or artistic artifact.

Founded in 1990 by Zandraa Tumen-Ulzii, who started making his own puzzles at age 10, the IMM was the first privately owned museum in Mongolia. Tumen Ulzii's puzzles are traditional Mongol toys made of interlocking, three-dimensional wood blocks, (like an even more complex Rubik's cube). These puzzles, often involving precise sequences and spinning motions that access internal, carved locking mechanisms, were among the first items on display at the museum. But in the intervening years the museum has grown to include over 11,000 items from 130 nations. The collection is split into 15 distinct puzzle and game categories, each with its own room or alcove.

The guides leading tours of the museums have all been trained in puzzles, optical illusions, and mind games. Most can perform up to thirty magic tricks on cue, breaking down the physical and perceptual properties at work for their audience. They can also assemble the puzzles in the IMM at lightning speed, challenging visitors to have a hands-on try at solving one themselves. Tumen-Ulzii, just to prove the difficulty involved in cultivating a logical and spatial mind, has standing wagers for visitors: $100, $1,000, or $10,000 dollars if you can solve a puzzle within a set time limit. One of the most ornate, a tortoise made of 11 pounds of carved silver puzzle pieces, uses 33 distinct interlocking methods, while the most complex puzzle requires 56,831 moves to complete. Most of the most devilish puzzles were designed by the impish Tumen-Ulzii.

Tumen-Ulzii's not just out to prove he's smarter than you. He's spent much of the past two decades traveling the world preaching the value of raising children on complex rather than soft, fuzzy games, touting the definitive developmental aid that puzzles offer. In Mongolia, he's partnered with the prominent Khan Bank todistribute over 13,800 traditional and culturally significant Mongolian puzzle toys to dozens of schools across the country, challenging tens of thousands of children to find joy in complex, logical challenges. And through his toy company, Mu-Tu-Uv Co., he sells puzzle rings and chessboards and wood blocks worldwide, and offers his services as a toy design consultant. He's even taken his show on the road, setting up Mongolian cultural displays incorporating puzzles in bizarre but attention-grabbing outlets, like a prominent outdoor and adventure gear shop in Berlin.  

The IMM, as crafted by Tumen-Ulzii, isn't a hub for innovation and futuristic thought. It's not flashy or well-funded. But its engagement with physics and problem solving creates an engrossing challenge, forcing us to acknowledge the value of some of the oldest and simplest games and technologies in the world. It's a straightforward, but worthwhile goal, and one that seems, from the size and constant growth of the museum, to be catching on.

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500 scientists stage protest over cuts, urge PM to "save" science

December 30 (news.mn) Researchers and scientists held a protest demanding that PM Saikhanbileg apologize for his remarks about research institutes.

Over 500 researchers and scientist held the "Save Science" protest at Chinggis Khaan Square, organized by the Science Trade Union of Mongolia, to speak out about cuts to science funding and the consolidation of research institutions.

The protesters held signs that read "Recall the government which treats science unjustly", "No more industry development without science", and "Shame on the government without a policy of continuity. Shame on MPs who do not know which way to take".

The demonstrators demanded that PM Ch.Saikhanbileg issue an apology for his remarks about research and science institutes in Mongolia, made during the December 19th plenary session meeting.

PM Ch.Saikhanbileg decided to merge research programs at national universities and technical institutes in Mongolia and remarked, "I do not doubt that many people do not know that so many institutes are funded by the government budget, much less the names of the institutes."

Researchers see the PM's comments as insulting remarks against researchers and scientists, and a blind-alley decision, and claim that the PM's doubts about Mongolia's internationally known researchers proves that he is far from understanding the nation's contributions to science.

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Dinosaur eggs stolen from Mongolia center of controversy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., December 26 (Albuquerque Journal) A New Mexico businessman is at the center of a yearlong federal investigation into the theft of fossil dinosaur eggs from Mongolia, a nascent republic bigger than Texas wedged between Russia and China.

The nation is rich in fossils and has brought increased pressure on the United States for aid in halting the flow of cultural treasures across its borders. The new cooperation has already yielded high-profile prosecutions in Montana and New York.

The Homeland Security Investigations probe of Touchstone Galleries, headquartered at the Sandia Park home of owner Joseph Wilhelm, began with a citizen tip in 2013 about the source of items for sale at an Arizona store.

Whole dinosaur eggs preserved in the reddish-brown sandstone where they were first laid were available.

The dinosaur is an oviraptor, a birdlike, feathered, flightless creature that lived 75 million to 90 million years ago – the late Cretaceous period – in what is now the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia.

The nesting dinosaur was named by the paleontologist who discovered remains in 1924 – "ovi" for eggs and "raptor" for thief – thinking then that the dinosaur had stolen eggs from another species. The 1990s discovery of an oviraptor protecting a brood of eggs at the time of its death altered that view, and some stunning fossil remains have been discovered in the last two decades.

Homeland Security Investigations, which looks into customs-related breaches of law, is continuing its investigation. No criminal charges have been filed, nor have any civil forfeiture proceedings been initiated.

Wilhelm said he believes HSI is conducting "a wide-ranging investigation of the Asian fossil trade."

"My interpretation is we're one of many stops and they're still developing what they're going to try to do," he said earlier this month.

"I still believe what I was doing was legal."

Galleries searched

In October, 14 months after starting out to see if import/export laws had been violated, federal agents searched Touchstone Galleries in Taos, Santa Fe and Cedar Crest, and Wilhelm's home in Sandia Park. The galleries sell gems, minerals and jewelry, as well as fossil specimens ranging from ammonites and trilobites up to a mounted cave bear skeleton.

Agents took primarily business records on computers, copied them and returned them to Wilhelm.

HSI authority comes from statutes dealing with stolen goods – smuggling prohibited items into or out of the U.S., selling stolen goods, conspiracy and money laundering. A section of the U.S. criminal code makes it a crime to fraudulently or knowingly buy or sell merchandise that has entered the country illegally.

According to HSI agent John Koski's 50-plus page affidavit, the ban on sale of culturally significant objects was codified in the constitution of Mongolia in 1924. Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj provided a translated copy to the United States to bolster his nation's increasing pressure on the U.S. to enforce those laws.

Wilhelm said the search warrant affidavits provide "the only place in North America that I'm aware of that that law has been translated into English.

"A statute written in Mongolian and published in the Gobi desert someplace … is really difficult for a small-time retailer in the Southwest of the U.S., that is buying in a U.S. location, to actually have a chance of knowing about that," he said.

China has similar laws asserting state ownership of fossils, banning their export and maintaining a right to recover fossils illegally carried out of the country.

"Mongolia has very strict laws regarding export," said New Mexico Museum of Natural History paleontology curator Tom Williamson, who is not involved in the case. "For a long time, the federal government turned a blind eye (to imports) but now is more rigorous."

One well-publicized case, he said, was that of a tarbosaurus bataar, similar to the tyranonosaurus rex, that had been painstakingly mounted by a commercial paleontologist in Florida and was being sold at a Manhattan auction before the sale was halted at the behest of the Mongolian government.

The U.S. Attorney's Office then filed forfeiture documents in New York to take them as criminal proceeds. In the end, prosecutors secured both the skeleton and a criminal conviction.

The oviraptor is a very close ancestor of birds, Williamson said, and spectacular specimens have emerged from Mongolia in the last 15 years. Understanding what dinosaur embryos look like compared with adults, and how they grew, make it important for scientists to have fossil egg specimens available for research – which doesn't happen when they are in private hands, he said.

Eggs purchased

HSI, after ascertaining that an egg cluster was for sale at Touchstone in Sedona, Ariz., sent photos to a paleontologist specializing in the evolution of birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, who said they looked authentic.

Agents next bought a single oviraptor egg for $1,900 and a double egg set for $3,900 from the gallery in Santa Fe.

The store manager told them oviraptor eggs were rare and would not be in the store's inventory again because of "what's going on in Mongolia" – a discontinuation of excavation and exportation by the Mongolian government, accompanied by a corresponding increase in smuggling of oviraptor eggs.

HSI purchased a three-egg set for $5,021 from the Sedona gallery after meeting with Wilhelm and his wife, Susan, who said the eggs were purchased from a brother and sister who arranged their transport in 2008 and that such specimens were unlikely to be available again.

"They have drawn a line in the sandstone, if you will," Wilhelm told Koski, according to the affidavit. "Their permitting process has gone from doing your application to getting your permit a week or two later … kind of like the Keystone pipeline. You have the idea."

Agents obtained warrants requiring Google and Yahoo to permit access to the galleries' email accounts before going to U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Yarbrough in Albuquerque for permission to take and search the gallery's computer equipment for financial information, invoices and other records.

HSI is not talking

"Because this (is an) ongoing investigation, and due to the sensitivities of this case, HSI cannot comment at this time," HSI public information officer Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe said in an email earlier this month.

Wilhelm is also saying little about the investigation.

"Within the constraints of normal concerns, we're doing what we can to cooperate with them," he said.

Link to article

 

Documentary about Mongolian Wild Horse Takhi Screened in Prague

Ulaanbaatar, December 26 (MONTSAME) An opening of a new documentary film named "Takhi in its motherland" about Mongolian wild horses took place December 18 at the Technical Central Museum in Prague, the Czech Republic.

The news was published Friday on website of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event was attended by diplomats of Mongolia's Embassy in the Czech Republic and representatives of the Czech Ministries and agencies. A director of the Czech Zoo Mr M.Bobek made the remarks during the opening ceremony, saying that this documentary film is created with an aim to present and propagandize the "Acclimatization of Mongolian wild horses in their motherland" project, which is implemented within the Development Cooperation of Czech Government.

A diplomat of the Mongolian Embassy in charge of trade and economic affairs D.Onorbilegt expressed thanks to the Czech side for making great efforts to acclimatizing wild horses in Mongolia. 

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5 Things I Learned About Survival As A Nomadic Reindeer Herder

December 26 (Macro Insider) The 5 Most Important People To Forgive Ahead of The Finish Of The Year As the year comes to an end, a lot of of us concentrate on resolutions, objectives and adopting new healthier habits. The month of December is frequently filled with travel, household...

The 5 Most Important People To Forgive Ahead of The Finish Of The Year

As the year comes to an end, a lot of of us concentrate on resolutions, objectives and adopting new healthier habits. The month of December is frequently filled with travel, household time and holiday parties. With it can  Read

The Guinness Planet Records recognizes the annual Mongol Derby as the longest and toughest horse race in the planet. In the summer of 2012, I had the privilege of participating— riding on the backs of semi-wild horses in Mongolia. Retracing the ancient postal method of Genghis Khan, my steeds and I crossed 1,000 kilometers of far stretching grassy steppes, sand dunes and rolling mountains. I raced via rain, hail and lightning storms, swam by way of flooded rivers and was chased by wild dogs. 

And but, in spite of the challenges my horses and I faced all through the nine day race, I had under no circumstances felt such freedom. I had fallen in really like with wild Mongolia, her individuals and her sturdy-willed horses.

When I returned from the race back to my normal life in Brooklyn, I stumbled upon a Bloomberg article about the Tsaatan — a nomadic tribe of northern Mongolia identified as the "reindeer folks."

The Tsaatan are a small, indigenous tribe who are trying to retain their ancient cultural traditions in a speedily modernizing Mongolia. They are also the only folks on the planet who actually ride reindeer.

The Tsaatan rely on these reindeer for survival in the harsh environment they reside in. They use the reindeer for food, use their fur for warmth (winter can reach -50 degrees Celsius), and ride them as their principal kind of transportation.

The tribe lives in the marshy valleys of West Taiga, close to the Russian border. Right here reindeer — not horses — are the best suited for traversing this variety of rugged, barren terrain and Siberian climate situations.

The story I read stated that this way of life for the Tsaatan may not final much longer. So it was in that moment I decided to get back to the wilds of Mongolia and discover this tribe for myself. I was determined to live amongst them and knowledge their way of life when I still could.

I returned to Mongolia this past summer, and led an expedition to the remote valley where I'd come across the Tsaatan.

Here I was, just a frequent guy from New York City, completely stripped down to only absolute necessities and immersed in this ancient culture.

For a brief moment in time, I was a nomadic reindeer herder.

Here are 5 crucial lessons about life and survival I learned from the Tsaatan:

1. Living in the moment is a way of life.

Link to article

 

Environment Minister Praises Parents of "Eco-Kid," Who Cleaned Selbe River for Three Years

Ulaanbaatar, December 26 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol received on December 25 Buyankhishig, a boy who cleaned the shores of Selbe river for three years with his father Zorigtbaatar.

The Minister thanked the boy's parents for bringing up their child with such a love for nature and motherland. The "Eco-Kid" Z.Buyankhishig is a seventh grade pupil of 117th school, is also a member of "Eco" club of the school. "It is nice to look back after picking up all litter from the shores of the river. However, the shores would fill up with litter within just few days. The river is polluted by people, planting more trees on the shores should help," said Buyankhishig.

His father Zorigtbaatar prepared a small space at a bend of the river to build a children's playground with trees planted around it. The Minister approved this initiative and promised to collaborate, and obligated her officials to pursue this work. 

"All children from either apartments or ger (national dwelling) districts deserve to have decent playgrounds and green facilities," noted the Minister and promised to show her full support. Initiatives of Buyankhishig and Zorigtbaatar meet the objectives of the Ministry, she added.

Mr Zorigtbaatar has six children. He has begun cleaning the shores of the Selbe river since he moved to "Salkhit", then his son Buyankhishig has started to pick up the litter. It was when a man posted their picture on Facebook, the boy was since called the "Eco-Kid".

Link to article

 

To the end of the world with Sean Burch, an extreme mountaineer

WARRENTON, Va., December 24 (WTOP) — Think of the most physically demanding 50 days of your life. Maybe the final seven weeks of training leading up to a marathon? If you spent time in the military, maybe your first seven weeks of basic?

Now imagine racing across the barren peaks of the Himalayas, as far as your body can stand each day. Imagine doing that for 49 days, 6 hours and 8 minutes, shattering the world record for the fastest time across Nepal, the highest elevated country in the world. For Fairfax native and lifelong Virginian Sean Burch, that was just last year's challenge.

"I love Mother Nature, because it's the one place you can be that doesn't judge you," says Burch in a conversation at his home outside Warrenton after his most recent expedition, ascending 23 peaks across Mongolia. "Especially being from D.C., everyone judges you; especially now, with what I do."

What Burch does, exactly, is a matter of perspective. He owns a half-dozen world records, all related to mountaineering. But more generally, what Burch does is set out to test himself and – by proxy – the human body to the limit.

It wasn't always this way. He was once just another Northern Virginian 20-something, with a house and a girlfriend and even a job that afforded him the chance to travel the world a bit.

"I was reading about mountaineering," says Burch. "But that's what I was doing – reading about it."

All that changed when his grandfather, a man who had seemed to Burch to have a full life, told his grandson on his death bed not to waste his short time on Earth, not to live with regret.

Link to article

 

Number of Livestock Increase 15.1% Over 2013 Reaching 51.9 Million Heads

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The National Statistical Committee (NSC) Tuesday released preliminary results of livestock census of this year.

Accordingly, a number of livestock reached 51.9 million heads, increasing 6.8 million head or 15.1% against the previous year.

The number of horses reached 2.9 million, cattle--3.4 million, camels--349.3 thousand, sheep--23.2 million and goats--22.0 million. The number of horses increased by 375.9 thousand, cattle--by 503.3 thousand, camels--by 27.8 thousand, sheep--by 3.1 million, and goats--2.8 million heads against 2013. The number of horses amounted for 5.8% of the total livestock counted, of cattle--6.6%, camel--0.7%, sheep--44.7% and goat--42.3%.

The number of livestock increased in all provinces except Orkhon. The number of livestock increased dramatically in Sukhbaatar, Uvs, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan, Bulgan, Khovd, Khentii, Dundgobi, Bayankhongor, Arkhangai, Khovsgol, Tov and Ovorkhangai aimags. 16 provinces and Ulaanbaatar city increased all five kinds of livestock.

Arkhangai aimag counted the largest number of livestock (4,293.9 thousand heads), followed by Tov (4,181.5 thousand heads) and Khovsgol (41.516.8 thousand heads).

The biggest number of horses (331.0 thousand) was counted in Tov aimag, of cattle (502.6 thousand)--in Arkhangai, camel (112.7 thousand)--in Omnogobi, sheep (2,229.9 thousand)--in Arkhangai, and goats (2,138.1 thousand)--in Bayankhongor.

Link to article

 

PM's Remarks on National Independence Day

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg addressed the nation December 29 on occasion of the 103rd anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Revolution of National Freedom.

"My fellow Mongolians, today is a celebration for every Mongolian citizen and family, when 103 years ago an important historic milestone was declared," began the PM.

"On this day, our ancestors who fought for freedom and independence for many years during the foreign domination, made the Revolution of the Year of White Pig, crowned Bogd Javzandamba Khutugtu, established Mongolian Government and declared the restoration of the independent state policies and political actions to other countries.

"The 1911 Revolution of National Freedom was the first of the three main revolutions of Mongolia made in the 20th century. This day is being marked for the fourth year, with its unique significance and meaning.

"We must cherish the efforts of our ancestors and the priceless independence they brought to us. Although our country faces many problems and many tasks to complete, I have no hesitation in the future prosperity of Mongolia. We have created the temporary obstacles and we must ourselves resolve and overcome them. We will firmly stand on the development path if we, being united, strive fora one goal.

"It is very symbolic and is of deep meaning that this great date falls on the junction of the two years," he said and appealed the people to make all efforts to make the year of 2015 the period of achieving  new goals. 

Link to article

 

Officials Pay Tribute to State Seal on Independence Day

December 30 (infomongolia.com) On December 29, 2014, welcoming the 103rd Anniversary of Restoring the National Freedom and Independence of Mongolia, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj, Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Z.Enkhbold, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg paid tribute by laying wreaths to the Monument of State Stamp locates in the park north to the Government House.

At the floral tribute ceremony, some Members of Parliament and Government as well as other representatives were present, where the honor guards were formed and the national anthem was sounded by Military Orchestra. 

Link to article

Related:

Wreaths Laid at Statue of State SealMontsame, December 29

Wreath laid at statue of the State Seal of Mongolianews.mn, December 30

 

Portrait of Mongolia's First PM Hung at Gov't House on 103rd Independence Day

December 30 (news.mn) A portrait of the first PM of Mongolia, Togs-Ochiryn Namnansuren, was hung at the Government House on the 103rd anniversary of the Restoration of National Liberty and Independence Day under a ceremony held on December 29th.

Opening the ceremony, Speaker Z.Enkhbold delivered a speech.

Speaker Z.Enkhbold noted, "Our dignitaries restored an independent Mongolia, valuing traditional statehood early in the 20th century. The appointment of Togs-Ochiryn Namnansuren as PM of Mongolia in August 1912 was the beginning of a historic period when Mongolians ruled their state on their own. The first PM of Mongolia, Togs-Ochiryn Namnansuren, conducted a state visit to the Russian Empire between 1913-1914 and intended to launch a progressive state organization and structure in Mongolia. He was the PM who proposed establishing the State Baga Khural and State Deed Khural. In 1914, in accordance a decree by Bogd Khan's, the State Deed Khural was established and Sain Noyon Khan Togs-Ochiryn Namnansuren was appointed as Chairman of the State Deed Khural.  The founding of the State Baga and Deed Khural was the beginning of parliament in Mongolia.

"This day we add the first PM Namnansuren's portrait to wall of the Government House, under a ceremony honoring his historic role in establishing parliament and democratic efforts towards statehood in Mongolia."

The newly added portrait of PM Togs-Ochiryn Namnansuren is a rare, historic photo taken during his meeting with the Russian Emperor, which was reproduced from the Central State Film, Photo and Audio Archives of St. Petersburg. This is the first time that the historic photo of PM Namnansuren has been displayed to the public.

Link to article

Related:

Portrait of First PM Exalted at State HouseMontsame, December 30

 

Infomongolia.com Presents Top Seven Highlights of 2014

December 31 (infomongolia.com) --

1.    New Government for Changes is succeeded by the Solution Government of Mongolia

The top highlight event occurred in 2014 is named as the "New Government for Changes" is replaced by the "Solution Government", where Cabinet of the Government of Mongolia used to chair by former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag was dismissed being effective in 2012-2014.

The main reason to oust the 27th Prime Minister was considered as MP N.Altankhuyag could not resolve facing economic crises and since the 2012 Parliamentary Elections, the living standard has not been improved.

Moreover, a fact that aroused a lot of compromises with his Party fellowmen (Democratic Party) was an agreement of cooperation with MPRP until 2020, which was established with the Head of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) N.Enkhbayar. This action was another biggest reason to dissolve the former Head of Democratic Party (DP), Premier N.Altankhuyag and his Cabinet by joint proposals of "Shonkhor" and "MoAKh" factions (both affiliated the DP) and its opposition party of Mongolian People's Party (MPP).

Furthermore, N.Altankhuyag's chairmanship was ended by Parliament's decision on November 05, 2014 and following the negotiations between the ruling DP and other political forces having seats in the Parliament, (MPP, CWGP and "Justice" Coalition merged from MPRP and MNDP), parties agreed to establish a new Coalition Government under "Solution Government" of Mongolia.

2.    World leaders visit Mongolia

It is a common event when heads of state conduct reciprocal top-level visits, but the official visits of the heads of state of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation to Mongolia, the only two neighbors of our country, attracted a world attention in 2014.

President of China, Mr. Xi Jinpin paid a state visit to Mongolia upon the invitation of the President of Mongolia, Mr. Ts.Elbegdorj on August 21-22, 2014. The head of China conducted an official visit to Mongolia 11 years ago and it was the first visit to Mongolia since the President Xi Jinpin took his office. During the visit, Government authorities of the PR of China and Mongolia have signed on 26 Agreements, Protocols and Memorandums of Understanding that are parts of important strategic documents to develop Mongolia's socio-economic sectors.

Upon the invitation of the President of Mongolia, the President of the Russian Federation V.V.Putin paid a one-day working visit to Mongolia on September 03, 2014.

Russian head of state was accompanied with a large group of delegates including Foreign Minister S.Lavrov, Deputy Prime Minister Yu.Trutnev, Minister of Energy A.Novak, Minister of Justice A.Konovalov, Minister of Construction and Housing and Communal Services M.Menn, Minister of Transportation M.Sokolov, Minister of Regional Development I.Slyunyayev, President of Russian Railways JSC (RZD) V.Yakunin, former President of Buryatia V.Nagovitsyn, Chairman of the Government of Tuva Sh.Kara-ool, Governor of Irkutsk Oblast S.Yeroshenko and other representatives from business and social spheres.

Russian President V.Putin visited Mongolia for his third time and during the latter visit, the Government authorities of the Russian Federation and Mongolia signed on 15 Agreements, Protocols and Memorandums of Understanding. The most impetus inked document is on reciprocal 30 days visa-free travel between citizens of the two countries, which entered into force from November 14, 2014.

3.    World-ranked wrestlers

The XVII Asian Games were successfully organized in Incheon, South Korea, where over 9,500 athletes from 45 countries have competed for 439 events in 36 sports categories and Mongolia was represented with its 234 athletes competing in 23 events.

At this Asian 'Olympics', Mongolia performed an outstanding results achieving its record-holding number of medals, whereas 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 12 Bronze medals and stood at the 16th place in overall ranking. Although the most achievements in sports were showed by national wrestlers in judo, freestyle, sambo and sumo wrestling.

Namely, Merit Athlere Sukhee TSERENCHIMED, Women's 60 kg, become the World Champion in freestyle wrestling during the 2014 FILA Wrestling World Championships.

Further, Merit Athlete Ganzorig MANDAKHNARAN, Men's 65 kg, repeated the Budapest 2013 FILA Wrestling World Championships' result in 2014 by achieving Bronze medal. In 2014 FILA Wrestling World Championships, Enkhsaikhan NYAMOCHIR, Men's 60 kg, had also grabbed a Bronze medal.

Also, Ganbat BOLDBAATAR, Men's 60 kg, become the Champion at the 2014 World Judo Championships held in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where Women's Judo Team won a Silver medal.

Moreover, Mongolian wrestlers in Japanese traditional sumo wrestling have also been performing and standing on the top position since the 68th Yokozuna Asashoryu, Dolgorsuren DAGVADORJ and at the latter Grand Sumo Tournament held in November 2014, the 69th Yokozuna Hakuho, Munkhbat DAVAAJARGAL reached the Japanese all-time record of 32 career championships that was made 43 years ago by legendary Yokozuna Taiho.

4.    Tough monetary policy

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Mongolia (Mongol Bank) decided to increase its policy interest rate by 1.5 point to 12%, at the recurrent meeting held on July 30, 2014.

The currency reserve of Mongolia was at 1.6 billion USD in May 2014 and compare to same period of previous year, it was reduced by 52.6%. However, foreign direct investments and net foreign assets have been declining for the last 2 years, whilst quasi-fiscal expenditures have been unalleviated. In addition, the measures on increasing foreign exchange inflows and improving balance of payments have still not been sufficient.

Therefore, the MPC has made this decision to increase MNT (Tugrug) yield in order to relieve the balance of payments difficulty, curb inflationary pressure, ensure financial stability in the medium and long term, prevent from potential risks in macroeconomic stability, and protect the real income of individuals. The outstanding balance of Mongol Bank's program loans, excluding the sustainable mortgage financing program, is expected to decrease by 766 billion MNT at the end of this year. Therewith, the monetary policy decision shall be more effective along with the implementation of prudent and consolidated fiscal policy, which includes quasi-fiscal expenditures as introduced by the Governor of Mongol Bank, Mr. N.Zoljargal.

It has still been crucial to enhance foreign exchange inflows through increasing export proceeds and promoting foreign direct investments, and maintain fiscal stability in order to neutralize the balance of payments pressure and to overcome current economic challenges.

Mongolian currency against the US dollar reached a record-level in 2014. At the beginning of year, 1 USD was equivalent to 1,714.3 MNT and hit 1,905 MNT/USD in August. One of the main factors affecting the rate of USD was impacted as the foreign currency reserves reduced up to 1.38 billion USD or 37.8 percent compare the beginning of the year.

5.    Investor to develop Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit is picked up

Under Government Resolution No.265, the development issue of Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit to pick up investors has been discussed since 2010, but was not resolved until December 2014, when the new Coalition Government finally picked up an investor as partner as the China-Japan-Mongolia Consortium comprised of Shenhua Energy, Sumitomo Corporation and Energy Resources.

Since the tripartite Consortium was picked up to develop the Tavan Tolgoi deposit, the Government of Mongolia and investors decided to hold their negotiations starting from January 05, 2015.

To note, following the announcement that the Government of Mongolia selected an investor for Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, an index of "Mongolian Mining Corporation" scaled up and shares have been increased by 6% at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

6.    Battle at the Khalkh River

In August 2014, the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Battles at the Khalkh River (The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol) was commemorated nationwide with the Russian people. On the occasion of celebration, President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin conducted a working visit to Mongolia to pay tribute to the anniversary and during his visit, President V.Putin pledged to improve military and military-technical cooperation by assisting with arms and increasing technical capacity of Mongolian Armed Forces.

7.    Top harvest collected in 20 years

In 2014, it was collected a total of 518.7 thousand tons of crop, of which 489.4 thousand tons of wheat, 164.0 thousand tons of potato, 102.2 thousand tons of other vegetables, 51.7 thousand tons of oil plant, and 40.3 thousand tons of fodder plant. In other words, an average quintal or centner (100 kg) of crop collected is 16.6 ql. per ha; 123.2 ql. of potato, 122.9 ql. of other vegetables, 24.5 ql. of oil plant and 6.4 ql. of fodder plant respectively.

This is the highest performance that has been recorded in 20 years, where 896 entities and individuals of 14 Aimags have supplied 340.0 thousand tons of wheat flour to mill houses that fully provided domestic demand this year.

Link to article

 

MONTSAME Highlights 10 Most Significant Events In Mongolia This Year

Ulaanbaatar, December 30 (MONTSAME) The MONTSAME news agency names the ten important events that happened in Mongolia in 2014

1.    Presidents of neighbour countries visited Mongolia

The President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) Mr Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Mongolia on August 21-22, whereas the President of the Russian Federation Mr Vladimir Putin paid a working visit on September 3. These visits were the continuation of traditional high-level mutual visits between Mongolia and its neighbours.

Within the visit of Mr Xi, the two counties signed the joint Declaration on developing the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership relations and some 30 documents between the governments and entities on forwarding the cooperation. A total of 15 memorandums and contracts were established with the Russian Federation on the bilateral ties and cooperation in trade, industry and education spheres. As results of Putin's visit, the two countries' people began to visit each other without visas from November 14.

2.    Mongolia selected as host country of 11th ASEM Summit

Mongolia was selected as the country to organize the 11th Summit of the ASEM in July of 2016. It was announced by Mr Herman Van Rompuy during a closing ceremony of the 10th ASEM Summit ran in October this year in Milan, Italy. The President Mr Elbegdorj said he would preside over "a special anniversary summit," since it will mark 20 years since ASEM was launched. "During that time, in my country we will have very nice weather," he added.

On December 30, the President Mr Elbegdorj issued a decree on setting up a national council for organizing the ASEM Summit.

3.    State Heads of Mongolia, Russia and China meet in Dushanbe

At initiative of the Mongolian President, the first meeting of the State leaders of Mongolia, Russia and China was held within the 13th Annual Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which ran September 11-12 in Dushanbe of Tajikistan. Main objective of this meeting was to implement the Ulaanbaatar Meeting of the Presidents of Mongolia, Russia and China. In Dushanbe, the State Heads of China and Russia backed in principle Mr Elbegdorj's initiative and emphasized that such a meeting can be hosted not only in Ulaanbaatar, but also in any city as soon as possible.

4.    Cabinet for reforms resigned and new cabinet formed

The cabinet for reforms headed by N.Altankhuyag resigned early November. This cabinet was co-formed by the ruling Democratic Party, the "Justice" coalition and the Civil Will-Green Party as a result of the 2012 parliamentary election, and it lasted for two years and two months.

The new cabinet for solutions was formed this month by the Democratic Party, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), the "Justice" coalition and the Civil Will-Green Party. Then a former head of the Cabinet Secretariat Ch.Saikhanbileg was elected the 28th Prime Minister of Mongolia. With 15 Ministries and 19 Ministers, the new cabinet announced it will focus on national economy.

5.    75th anniversary of the victory on Khalkh River Battle celebrated

Mongolia and the Russian Federation celebrated the 75th anniversary of the joint victory on the Khalkh River Battle. On occasion of the event, the Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Mongolia and promised to render support to Mongolia for improving the bilateral military and military-technical cooperation, arms and techniques of the Mongolian Armed Forces. Moreover, the "Selenge-2014" joint military exercise took place in Dornod with participation of some 1,000 servicemen within the anniversary.

6.    Great Construction works done in energy, road and construction sectors

The flow of investments to the energy, road and construction sectors was high this year although a size of foreign investment was low. For example, the "Amgalan" thermal power station was put into use in the city's Bayanzurkh district, the #3 thermal power station received a new annex. Works have launched to distribute energy to eight provinces as well.

In the road area, the capital city was connected by paved roads to Khovsgol, Sukhbaatar and Omnogobi aimags.

7.    Mongolian athletes achieve brilliant success at international competitions

Mongolian athletes grabbed medals at World championships, Grand Slam, Grand Prix and other biggest competitions for many sports. A State Honored Sportswoman and youth world champion S.Tserenchimed captured a gold medal in the FILA Wrestling World Championship which took place in Tashkent of Uzbekistan. A State Honored Sportsman G.Boldbaatar won a gold medal in the 2014 Judo World Championships in Chelyabinsk of Russia. J.Nurlan became the very first Mongolian to grab a gold medal in the Bodybuilding World Championship held in Mumbai of India. Our national team collected five gold, four silver and 12 bronze medals at the Incheon Asian Games, becoming the 16th among 16 countries.

8.    "Hakuho" M.Davaajargal's success equals highest record of sumo

A State Honored Sportsman and Grand champion of Japanese professional sumo "Hakuho" M.Davaajargal won the sumo tournament of November, receiving the Emperor's Trophy for the 32nd time. Thus, his record equaled to the record of Taikho, which is the top one in the professional sumo world. One win left for him to break the professional sumo's all-time record.

9.    Mongolia fully provides itself with flour

Mongolia harvested 465 thousand tons of wheat, thus becoming able to provide its people with flour and other products made of flour. It has been estimated that the flour consumption is about 240 thousand tons, and it needs 360 thousand tons of wheat.

This is first time for Mongolia to harvest such big amount of wheat since Mongolia received 1.6 tons of wheat from one hectare thanks to the 1st Campaign for reclaiming virgin lands in 1958. The size of the wheat harvested increased this year by 15% against 2013.

10. Mongolian actor enters Hollywood

A Foremost Figure of Culture B.Amarsaikhan became the first Mongolian to show up in  the Hollywood world. He played a historical role of Arigbokh in the "Marco Polo" TV series produced by the Netflix company. He participated in the red carpet official ceremony of the movie's opening at the Broadway theatre in New York, wearing the national costume.

Link to article

 

Concord Rotary Club brings medical equipment to rural Mongolia

By NICK REID

December 29 (Concord Monitor) A local Rotary Club effort improved rural Mongolian birthing technology by bringing maternal and pediatric suites to five clinics in the developing country's outskirts last month.

A year of fundraising in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine netted about $25,000 of donations, which was matched by other Rotary funds to total more than $60,000, said Tony Gilmore, a past governor of a district covering much of New Hampshire and Vermont. The Rotarians partnered with a Massachusetts-based nonprofit called International Medical Equipment Collaborative, which refurbishes surplus equipment donated by hospitals for reuse in impoverished countries.

In the end, that partnership meant that the local funds bought birthing beds, incubators, sterilization equipment and other supplies that would have cost nearly $800,000 if purchased new.

"We shipped a 40-foot-long container full of this medical equipment broken down into five suites," Gilmore said. "The inventory list was 66 pages long, so it was quite a lot of stuff."

The effort was led by the Concord-based Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club, one of two clubs in the city. Gilmore said he's one of the club's 13 members.

Gilmore said a Mongolian man named Batuka Baterdene who'd won a Rotary scholarship was giving a presentation in the spring of 2013 to Rotarians about the lack of equipment for medical clinics in his country. Gilmore said the man brought videos that illustrated a dire need, and he decided he wanted to help.

Gilmore was busy serving as the district governor for an area covering all of central and western New Hampshire and Vermont, but he said when his term was up on July 1, he was going to make a Mongolia project his priority.

He and others then spent a year making presentations and gathering donations, and by Sept. 15 the equipment was on its way to Mongolia, where it would then be dispersed to clinics spread throughout the country's hinterlands.

One of the clinics was more than 650 miles from the capital – where the equipment was shipped – and almost 90 percent of the way was unpaved, Gilmore said. He flew to the country to be there when the equipment arrived and see the clinics for himself.

"One of the clinics there, their sterilizer was broken. I don't know how they sterilized their instruments," he said, noting that their new sterilization technology could be powered by heat and could work even if the power is out.

Gilmore said nearly half the country's population is located in the capital, and services in the rural parts of the country – oftentimes without roads – are severely lagging. According to UNICEF data, the infant mortality rate has been on the decline: It went from 31 deaths in the first year of life per 1,000 births in 2000 to 23 in 2004. But, compared with neighbors Russia and China, at 7 and 15, respectively, it's still relatively high.

In rural areas, Mongolia's infant mortality rate is even worse "due to long distances to health facilities as well as lack of access to antenatal and delivery care, including emergency services in rural areas," UNICEF said. Rural areas are also much less likely to have improved water sources or sanitation provisions.

Gilmore said he worked as quickly as he could to expedite the project. He said it was "highly unusual" for the grant proposal to be fully funded, and he personally drove to IMEC headquarters with a check three days after the Rotary grant was approved in mid-July. The equipment was shipped in September and arrived in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar around Thanksgiving.

Gilmore said his Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club worked closely with Mongolia's Peace Avenue Rotary Club to work out the logistics of the project. He said the Peace Avenue club got a number of permissions from the Mongolian government to import the equipment as a donation and bypass tax requirements.

"They worked tirelessly to get this thing through customs," he said.

A Mongolian company donated a warehouse and lifting equipment and offered a place where representatives of the five clinics could receive training on all of the new equipment. Gilmore said the Mongolian Rotarians on average were about half the age of the average American Rotarian, and the youthful group took time off work and managed to overcome a number of obstacles to deliver all of the equipment to rural destinations.

"These guys were just absolutely fantastic," Gilmore said. "It was really, really, a terrific undertaking. I'm thrilled."

Link to article

 

Lothian woman finishes 9th in 1,000K Mongolian horse race

At 61, horseback rider Barbara Smith doesn't plan on slowing down

December 28 (Capital Gazette) Some friends thought she was crazy.

So did horse people.

Heck, even Barbara Smith admits she was.

Crazy cool.

Smith raced more than 600 miles over eight days — just short of the distance from Frederick to Chicago — on ponies on the other side of the world.

On ponies through hail, rain and pitted terrain.

On ponies over rickety bridges with broken wood.

On ponies while avoiding hungry wolves and wild dogs.

And she paid $13,000 for the privilege.

"I don't think you can top this, quite frankly," says Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board. "It's the toughest equestrian race in the world, and you don't ride normal horses. You ride little Mongol ponies — not broken, herded up off the plains."

Smith, who at 61 was the oldest participant, finished ninth in the 2014 Mongol Derby, which traced Genghis Khan's pony express route. The 13th-century ruler used a system of riders to carry messages. She completed the race on Aug. 16, her birthday — ecstatic and exhausted.

Her prize?

A warm Foster's beer and a sense of accomplishment.

The event, sponsored by a British company called The Adventurists, started with 48 riders. Thirty-seven finished in the allotted 10 days. Some had to be airlifted because of injuries.

Link to article

 

Marco Polo Review: Martial Arts & Sex In The Orient (Part 2)

December 31 (Forbes) In a previous post, we reviewed the production of Marco Polo and the plot. Here's a review of the first two shows in the 10-episode series.

Link to full article

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