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Monday, March 2, 2015

[Gatsuurt impact to be assessed; ETT CEO detained; half of MSE doesn't report; MNT sees sudden jump; and GoM bonds fail again]

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Monday, March 2, 2015

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

CG closed -2.08% Feb 26-27 to C$6.11

PM orders evaluation of Gatsuurt mining impact on Hunnu graves

February 26 (gogo.mn) PM ordered to conduct studies and evaluate the possible impacts of the mining activities at the Gatsuurt deposit on Hunnu graves in Boroo village.

In accordance with the order, working group to conduct the evaluation has been established. The main purpose of this working group is to conduct scientific studies and evaluation to the possible impacts of the mining activities and come up with professional conclusion on the matter.

Working group is led by Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Science B.Tulga and consists of professionals and scientists from Mongolian Academy of Sciences, History and Archaeological Institute, Mineral Resources Authority, Ministry of Mining and Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

PM's order requires the working group to come up with the evaluation assessment within the first quarter of this year.

Link to article

Related:

Working group to study the impact of Gatsuurt mine establishednews.mn, February 26

PM sets up Working GroupMontsame, February 26

 

Minister D.Erdenebat comes out against mining at Noyon Mountain

February 26 (gogo.mn) MP and Minister of industry D.Erdenebat turned to his twitter account to express his stances on the development around Noyon Mountain.

The tweet reads: 'I have been born at the foot of Noyon mountain. Our elders would cherish the sacred mountain. I have named my first company Noyon. Therefore, I have been expressing my stances openly and am always against. I do not support any attempt seeking political and economic profit.'

Link to article

 

TRQ closed +4.7% to Feb 24-27 to US$3.14

Price Target Update on Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd

February 25 (Stafford Daily) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) shares are expected to touch $6.06 in the short term. This short term price target has been shared by 2 analysts. However, the standard deviation of short term price estimate has been valued at 5.32. The target price could hit $10 on the higher end and $2 on the lower end.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) reported a drop of 6.7% or 1,583,393 shares in its short interest. The short figure came in at 2.4% of the total floats. The average daily volume of 2,616,709 shares suggests that the days to cover 22,044,505 short positions, as on January 30,2015, will be 8. On January 15,2015, the short interest was 23,627,898 shares.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (NYSE:TRQ) concluded the session 2.02% or 0.06 points higher. The stock registered its first trade at $2.96 and oscillated between $3.15 and $2.96 before closing the day at $3.03. Since the stock failed to latch on to major gains, market participants should watch the counter closely for more signs of weakness. The volume was measured at 2,364,103 shares. The counter had ended the previous trading day at $2.97. The 52-week high of the share price is $4.36 and the 52-week low is $2.65. With close to 2,012,299,000 shares as outstanding, the counter has a market cap valued at $6,097 million.

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., formerly Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is an international mineral exploration and development company. The Companys principal mineral resource property is the Oyu Tolgoi Project, located in Mongolia. The Company also has two subsidiaries, through which it holds interests in coal resource properties in Mongolia and molybdenum, rhenium, copper, gold and uranium resource properties in Australia. Its subsidiary, SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (SGQ), owns and operates the Ovoot Tolgoi Coal Project located in Mongolia. Its subsidiary, Ivanhoe Australia Limited (Ivanhoe Australia), owns the Osborne Project, the Merlin Project and the Mount Dore Project, all of which are located in Queensland, Australia. In November 2013, Turquoise Hill Resources announced that it has completed the divestment of its interest in Inova Resources Limited (Inova) to Shanxi Donghui Coal Coking & Chemicals Group Co., Ltd.

Link to article

 

Rio Tinto streamlines organisational structure to drive greater value 

27 February 2015 -- Rio Tinto is streamlining its product groups and corporate functions as part of the continued focus on efficiency and costs. 

Under the new arrangements, Rio Tinto's world-class portfolio of assets will be condensed into four product groups: Aluminium, Copper and Coal, Diamonds and Minerals, and Iron Ore. 

The new Copper and Coal product group will bring Rio Tinto's coal operations alongside the existing Copper portfolio. Copper chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques will lead the combined product group

Uranium will be added to the Diamonds and Minerals product group, under the leadership of product group chief executive Alan Davies. 

As a consequence of the restructuring, Energy chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney will leave the business. 

The Aluminium and Iron Ore product groups remain unchanged. 

A number of key corporate functions will also be reshaped to further reduce costs and improve effectiveness as part of an ongoing optimisation programme. 

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said "These changes are part of our continuing business transformation to reduce costs, simplify and strengthen our company and deliver sustainable value for shareholders. 

"Our coal and uranium assets remain a part of our world-class portfolio. We will work hard to ensure there is a smooth transition for our colleagues in the Energy product group and continue to maximise efficiencies in our coal and uranium operations. 

"I would like to thank Harry for the important contribution he has made during almost 25 years with the Group, including as a colleague on the Executive Committee for the past five years. Harry has my best wishes for the future and my full appreciation for the significant role he has played in his time at Rio Tinto." 

The new arrangements come into effect immediately.

Link to release

 

KRI closed +7.5% Thu-Fri to C$0.43

Khan Files First Quarter 2015 Financial Results

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 26, 2015) - Khan Resources Inc. (CSE:KRI) ("Khan" or "the Company") announced today that it has filed its financial statements and management's discussion and analysis for the three months ended December 31, 2014 on SEDAR and has posted these documents to its website www.khanresources.com.

Highlights

International arbitration action against the Government of Mongolia - All submissions and hearings have now been completed in respect of the international arbitration action against the Government of Mongolia for the illegal expropriation in 2009 of the Company's mining and exploration licenses for the Dornod uranium project in northeastern Mongolia. The hearing on merits and quantum was completed between November 11 and November 15, 2013 and two post-hearing briefs were subsequently submitted; the first on February 5, 2014 followed by a final brief on April 11, 2014. The Tribunal is continuing to formulate their decision which the Company believes should be forthcoming. The amount of damages sought by Khan currently exceeds $350 million.

Cash - Substantial cash outflows for legal expenses related to the international arbitration came to an end by March 31, 2014. Management is now conserving its cash resources pending the judgment of the Tribunal. The Company's rate of cash expenditures has declined significantly since April 1, 2014. Cash balances are being supplemented by the exercise of outstanding options and by the sale of investments.

Investments - At December 31, 2014, the Company held 14.4 million common shares of Macusani Yellowcake Inc. ("Macusani") with a fair value of $650,000, a decrease of $289,000 from its value at September 30, 2014. There were no disposals of Macusani shares during the latest quarter. The Company's holdings represent 5.5% of the 259.7 million Macusani outstanding common shares.

Corporate matters - The Mongolian subsidiaries were closed on September 30, 2013 and all Mongolian tangible assets were retired. The office in Ulaanbaatar was closed on June 30, 2014. Due to circumstances in Mongolia impeding the legal dissolution of these subsidiaries, the Company determined that it did not have substantive control over these entities; accordingly the assets and liabilities of the Mongolian subsidiaries were derecognized at December 31, 2014.

The following table summarizes financial results of the Company for the first fiscal quarters ended December 31, 2014 and 2013.

Link to release

Back to top

Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.92% to 13,905.51, Turnover ₮380.3 Million, T-Bills ₮2.1 Billion

February 27 (MSE) --

Link to report

 

123 Stocks Fail To Submit Annual Reports, More than Half of MSE

February 27 (MSE) It is the responsibility of MSE listed companies to submit their Annual financial report to MSE before 10 February 2015 according to the Article No.:20.1.6 of "Securities Law of Mongolia" and the Article No.:13.2 of "Accounting Law of Mongolia". 

As of 10 February 2015, there were 114 Joint Stock Companies submitted their Annual financial report to MSE which accounted only 48.1 percent of total 237 JSCs.   

123 Joint Stock Companies that failed to submit their Annual financial report are subject to public announcement, trading halt and delisting from MSE.

Please click here to view the list of JSCs that failed to submit the report.  

Link to release

 

Weekly Report: Government Securities Registered on MSE

February 27 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized Government Securities trading worth MNT 437 billion since 1996. From 2011 Government securities trading transferred to Mongol Bank until November 2014.  

Since November 2014, MSE organized short durations /3, 6, 12 months/ retailed government bonds trading in primary and secondary market worth MNT98 billion through 23 trading sessions. Investors and entities of 150 countries including USA, Great Britain, Japan, and South Korea, China and Malaysia and domestic investors participated in government retail bonds trading in the past. 

Government retail bonds' detailed information will be updated weekly on website of MSE. 

Click here to view detailed information.

Link to release

Back to top

Economy

Early morning bank rates: TDB (Buy 1,965 Sell 1,975), Khan (Buy 1,960 Sell 1,975), Golomt (Buy 1,960 Sell 1,967), XacBank (Buy 1,960 Sell 1,972), State Bank (Buy 1,966 Sell 1,981)  

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, February 27 Close

 

 

2/27

2/26

2/25

2/24

2/23

2/18

2/17

2/16

2/13

2/12

USD

1,974.52

1,973.53

1,982.89

1,975.95

1,974.69

1,973.57

1,968.61

1,965.08

1,961.42

1,961.25

EUR

2,214.33

2,240.65

2,255.34

2,238.65

2,242.85

2,250.36

2,234.37

2,245.50

2,241.51

2,221.51

CNY

314.94

315.28

316.78

315.89

315.69

315.51

314.73

314.47

314.30

314.08

GBP

3,048.76

3,067.06

3,074.07

3,053.83

3,038.26

3,030.42

3,023.88

3,033.79

3,016.66

2,988.06

RUB

32.34

32.49

31.68

31.21

31.24

31.57

31.32

31.47

30.14

29.61

MNT vs USD, CNY in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

GoM Treasury Auction: 15 Billion 52-Week Bills Sold at Discount from 30 Billion Offered

February 25 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 30.0 billion MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion MNT /out of 15.0 billion MNT bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.780%.

Please find expanded information from Table.


Announced amount /by MNT/

30,000,000,000

Received bid amount /by MNT

15,000,000,000

Sold amount /by MNT/

15,000,000,000

Weighted average yield

16.780%

Maximum yield of fulfilled bids         

16.780%

Minimum yield of fulfilled bids

16.780%

Link to release

 

Mongolia 10b Tugrik Bond Auction Fails to Attract Bids (Wed.)

By Michael Kohn

February 27 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian government failed to sell bond at auction due to absence of competitive and non-competitive bids, according to a statement released on Feb. 25 by the Bank of Mongolia.

* Bond had a face value of 10b tugrik ($5m)

* Bond had five-year maturity, each unit worth 1m tugrik

* NOTE: Purpose of issuing government securities is to finance the current budget deficit in the short-term, Uuganbaatar Tumurkhuyag, a Bank of Mongolia economist responsible for government bond  auctions, said by phone today

* NOTE: In 2015, four government bond auctions with a total face-value of 25b tugrik have failed, these include two three-year bonds and two five-year bonds: Uuganbaatar

(BFW)

 

BoM FX auction: US$6.9m sold at 1971.9, $18.8m MNT swap offer accepted

February 26 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on February 26th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 12.9 million in a closing rate of MNT 1969.00-1972.25 and CNY 40.0 million in a closing rate of MNT 315.01-316.80 from local commercial bank. BOM has sold USD 6.9 million in a rate of 1971.90.

On February 26th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to USD 18.8 from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.

See also:

·         FX Auction Statistics

Link to release

 

BoM issues 92.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +30.4% to ₮397 billion

February 27 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 92.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

Frontier Securities: Analysis of Mongolian Economic Structure

February 28 (Frontier Securities) *In the latest issue of Mongolian Economy Update by the World Bank, says, in 2014, Mongolian economic growth has slowed as it began to adjust to unsustainable economic imbalances.

According to the latest release by the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, real growth of Mongolia slowed to 7.8% in 2014, from 12.8% in the previous year. Economic growth is likely to continue slowing in 2015 as the economy remains under pressure from the external imbalance and high inflation. The World Bank has estimated the real GDP growth of Mongolia to be stabilized by 6% for next 3 years. 

Download full PDF report from the following link: Analysis of Mongolian economic structure

Link to release

 

Annual Mongolia Economic Forum to Be Held April 2-3, Ulaanbaatar

February 27 (infomongolia.com) Mongolia Economic Forum 2015 will be taking place at the Government House in Ulaanbaatar on April 02-03, 2015.

Accordingly, at the Cabinet meeting held on February 25, 2015, the Head of Cabinet Secretariat S.Bayartsogt was obliged to provide preparation and organizational issues meeting all requirements.

The Mongolia Economic Forum is a Mongolian non-political and non-governmental organization which is designed to provide a platform for constructive discussion among key stakeholders, including Government, business, civil society and academia, with added input from potential foreign investors and donors.

An annual conference of the Forum invites leaders and representatives from public, private sectors, academics and civil society to discuss economic and social issues impacting the development of Mongolia, and seeks ways to implement development policies in the country.

The first Mongolia Economic Forum was held in Ulaanbaatar in 2010.

Link to article

Related:

Economic Forum will be organized in Aprilnews.mn, February 27

Back to top

Politics & Legal

IAAC Detains Erdenes TT CEO

March 1 (Cover Mongolia) Several local news agencies reported on Thursday, February 26 that Mr. Ya. Batsuuri, CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, was detained by IAAC in Detention Center #461, the same prison where the SouthGobi three was held.

Local media cited Erdenes TT's awarding of 4.5 billion to Gobi Power LLC, owned by the wife of Mr. G. Denzen, deputy cabinet secretary at the time.

No English coverage could be found.

---

 

Man released from Mongolian prison returns to Minnesota

by Maury Glover

ST. PAUL, Minn., March 1 (KMSP) - Former Elk River, Minnesota resident Justin Kapla was pardoned by the country's president and freed from prison, and he returned to U.S. soil on Saturday with his family at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Kapla wasn't allowed to leave Mongolia after the coal mining company he worked for, SouthGobi, was accused of tax evasion back in 2012. He was living under an exit ban in Mongolia for more than two years as the investigation ensued. In late January, he was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, all while he and his family maintained his innocence. Kapla wasn't working for the mining company when the prosecutors claim the tax evasion took place, and two other trials against him were dismissed for lack of evidence.

After three years of legal battles and travel bans, holding his daughter Evelyn in his arms, Kapla, his wife Solongo and their son Eagle landed, and they were greeted by lots of hugs, a few balloons and plenty of love.

"I was very happy. We didn't know for sure until right up until it happened. When they come in and say 'You are going home today,' it's a pretty good feeling," Kapla said.

Even though his wife says he's lost a few pounds, Kapla says conditions in the prison weren't as bad as everyone thinks.

"I have to commend the corrections team there. Very respectful to us, never once did we feel in danger. It wasn't terrible. Not like you see on some other foreign prisons very harsh conditions. Nothing like that at all," he said.

Now that he's free, Kapla is looking forward to getting his wife and kids, who are all Mongolian citizens, settled in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"Just spending time with family and friends that helped make this happen, and eating some hot dish definitely eating some good food. That's definitely on the agenda," he said.

More: Family fights to get Justin Kapla home 

Link to article (includes video)

 

SouthGobi Employees Depart Mongolia After Presidential Pardon

By Michael Kohn

February 27 (Bloomberg) -- A day after receiving a presidential pardon three former employees of SouthGobi Sands LLC left Mongolia.

U.S. citizen Justin Kapla and Philippine nationals Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David left Ulaanbaatar for Beijing at 5:35 p.m. local time, according to the flight schedule and their lawyer Tsogt Natsagdorj.

The three had been held in Mongolia since mid-2012 and were prevented from leaving the country, pending a trial for tax evasion. The case concluded on Jan. 30 with a guilty verdict and prison sentences of between five and six years. President Elbegdorj Tsakhia accepted their request for a pardon yesterday.

The verdict led to a rebuke from business groups within and outside Mongolia, with much of the criticism focused on alleged irregularities in the trial and the sentencing. The American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia called the investigation and trial "flawed" in a statement yesterday.

"The President showed leadership in this decision," Jay Liotta, an Ulaanbaatar-based lawyer, said by e-mail yesterday. "However, until the root cause of these abuses are addressed the deterrent to attracting investment and doing business in Mongolia remains."

Kapla is headed to his native Minnesota with his Mongolian wife and two children. Cajucom and David are to be reunited with their families in Manila.

SouthGobi Sands LLC is the Mongolian affiliate of Hong Kong-based SouthGobi Resources Ltd.

Link to article

 

Mongolia's President Pardons Jailed Ex-SouthGobi Employees

By Michael Kohn

February 26 (Bloomberg) -- Three jailed former employees of coal mining company SouthGobi Sands LLC were pardoned today by Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia after being convicted on Jan. 30 of tax evasion, according to their lawyer Tsogt Natsagdorj.

The pardons were confirmed on Elbegdorj's website.

U.S. citizen Justin Kapla and Philippine nationals Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David were released from Detention Facility 461 this morning in the capital Ulaanbaatar, Tsogt said by telephone.

"It's Justin, I'm out. We all are," Kapla confirmed in a text message. The travel ban placed on Kapla prior to the trial has been lifted and he is free to leave Mongolia, according to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar. Tsogt couldn't immediately confirm if the travel bans on David and Cajucom were also lifted.

The three had been handed jail sentences of five to six years on Jan. 30, which generated protests from business groups within and outside Mongolia. Much of the commentary, which included a public letter from Mongolia's CEO Club, opposed prosecution of the trio under the criminal code when commercial laws provide for dealing with tax cases.

Economy Proxy

SouthGobi's case began about two years ago and became something of a proxy for the malaise in Mongolia's economy. In the same two years, foreign direct investment slumped by about 85 percent as major mining projects in the country stalled over contract disputes. They include the expansion of Rio Tinto Group's copper and gold mine, which is the single biggest foreign investment in the country.

"This is a regrettable situation," Jigjid Rentsendoo, Mongolia's Minister of Mining said at a press conference yesterday. "Foreign investment is very important so I am very sorry that foreign investors have gotten into this trouble."

The Business Council of Mongolia, the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia and the North American Business Council all issued open letters of protest against the convictions. The AmCham letter called for a suspension in negotiations between Mongolian and the U.S. over economic aid.

Assessing Mongolia

"The business community has made clear to us that this case negatively affects its assessment of Mongolia as a destination for foreign direct investment," The U.S. embassy said in a press release. "We hope that in the future, the Mongolian authorities will conduct such cases through a fair and transparent process, in full accordance with Mongolian law,"

Mongolia's Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed was questioned about the SouthGobi case this month in Tokyo, where he was visiting to sign a trade deal with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

"The government cannot change the decision that has been made by the court," Saikhanbileg said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Feb. 11. "But it can change what has caused the problem. The government will come up with a plan to amend tax laws in a way that cannot be interpreted in many different ways."

New Laws

Saikhanbileg said the plan would be introduced to the spring session of Parliament, which is due to commence in April.

While the three businessmen walked free from prison today at around 11 a.m., SouthGobi still faces 35 billion tugrik ($18 million) in fines for tax evasion, which could bankrupt its business.

SouthGobi may not be able to meet its financial obligations if the verdict isn't reversed on appeal, according to a Feb. 1 statement from the company, which added that "voluntary or involuntary insolvency proceedings" could result.

SouthGobi Sands LLC is the Mongolian affiliate of Hong Kong-based SouthGobi Resources Ltd.

Link to article

International media:

Mongolia pardons three foreigners accused of tax evasionReuters, February 26

Day 829: Three SouthGobi Executives Pardoned From Prison Sentences By Mongolia's PresidentForbes, February 26

Minnesota native pardoned, released from Mongolian prisonFox 9, February 27 (Mogi: this one used my selfie with Justin at his bye bye party)

MONGOLIA PARDONS AMERICAN, 2 FILIPINOS IN TAX CASE - Ganbat Namjilsangarav for AP, February 26

Mongolia pardons three jailed foreign businessmenAFP, February 26

American, 2 others pardoned in Mongolia tax-evasion case - LA Times, February 26

Mongolia pardons foreign businessmenAAP, February 26

Mother says son freed from Mongolian prisonStar News Online, February 27

Kapla's imprisonment didn't sit well with parentsStar News Online, February 27

Parents trying to free their son from imprisonment in Mongolia Mother says Mongolia using her son as a pawn with unjust imprisonment - Princeton Union Eagle, February 25

Minnesota man imprisoned in Mongolia set freeKARE 11, February 26

Minnesotan held in Mongolia for 2 years pardoned, will be reunited with familyBringMeTheNews.com, February 26

Local media:

President of Mongolia Issues PardonsInfoMongolia, February 26

President Elbegdorj Issues PardonMontsame, February 26

President of Mongolia pardons former SouthGobi Sands employeesnews.mn, February 26

President Ts.Elbegdorj frees former authorities of SouthGobi SandsUB Post, February 26

 

Statements on the pardon:

Press Release on U.S. Citizen Justin Kapla's PardoningU.S. Embassy, February 26

AmCham Mongolia Statement of the Presidential Pardon of Justin Kapla, Hilarion Cajucom Jr., and Cristobal David – AmCham Mongolia, February 26

APPRECIATION STATEMENT FOR PARDON FOR MSSRS.KAPLA,CAJUCOM JR. AND DAVID BY PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA TS. ELBEGDORJ - The Mongolian National Mining Association, mineral economist/researcher Naranbaatar Lundeg, INDEPENDENT MONGOLIAN METALS & MINING RESEARCH, February 27

 

PRESIDENT ELBEGDORJ ISSUES PARDONS

February 26 (President.mn) According to the Constitutional rights, President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj issued a Decree to pardon some convicts. President pardoned U.S. citizen Justin Kapla, citizens of Philippines Cristobal David and Hilarion Cajucom Jr who have been convicted of tax evasion charges. 

Earlier, President of Philippines delivered letter to President Elbegdorj asking for pardons its citizens. Also, a letter was received to pardon Justin Kapla. A pardon is usually granted be a head of state of a country due to a letter of request. 

President of Mongolia requested President of China to pardon Kh.Damdin, a citizen of Mongolia who has been sentenced to death penalty in China and it was successfully accepted. 

Link to release

 

Mogi: laying the groundwork for the SouthGobi three

PRESIDENT ELBEGDORJ PARDONS SOME CONVICTS

February 25 (President.mn) Today, according to the Constitutional rights, President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj issued a Decree to pardon and granting clemency to some convicts. President pardoned Ch.Munkh-Ochir, G.Batmyagmar and G.Baasantseren who were found guilty of evading taxes. They were pardoned due to the following factors including: committed crime for the first time, served most of their sentence in prison, fully reimbursed for the compensation and were conscious of their guilt. 

Also, E.Khaliun a woman who was sentenced to three years imprisonment was pardoned. She also committed crime for the first time, served most of her sentence in prison and fully reimbursed the payment.

Link to article

 

Unofficial translation:

S. Enkh-Amgalan: We're absolutely confident that we didn't violate any law

By E.Enerel and L.Munkhtur

February 20 (Udriin Sonin/Daily News) We've interviewed the CEO of SouthGobi Resources, S. Enkh-Amgalan

-       Three foreign citizens and ex-employees of SouthGobi Sands LLC were sentenced in the court of Mongolia. How would you explain this situation?

This case has been investigated for a quite long time. We've been going to the court for 31 months or almost 3 years. I wasn't here when this case started. At first, the IAAC started investigating for bribery. But it was proven that our company was not related to the bribery case and was dismissed. The SIA continued the investigation for alleged money laundering which was dismissed later. This so called "money laundering of MNT 6.1 trillion" equals to the annual budget of Mongolia of that time. Prosecutors dismissed this case on December 20, 2014 by the investigator's recommendations, which were made on June 2013 and January 2014. Tax case has been continuing until today. They started talking about MNT 234 billion at first. Actually, our company made sales revenue of MNT 400 billion in total between 2007-2011 and paid tax over MNT 100 billion. If we add the amount of MNT 234 billion on the actual taxes paid, taxes will go over MNT 300 billion which would equal to 75% of our total sales income. Therefore, it shows that how this number is made up and based on false calculations. The amount of alleged tax evasion had been decreasing every time experts made reports. There were total of four groups of experts worked on the case and lastly they came up with number of MNT 35 billion. Our company is a public company that is registered to 2 international stocks. The main requirement for being public company is to have an annual audit by the independent financial audit organization that can be trusted by its shareholders. For our company, the world's reputable audit companies such as PWC and KPMG have worked as the independent audit company to conduct annual audits and sometimes they even conducted double inspections. These audit companies have never found any tax evasion instances during this time. SouthGobi's shareholders and their representatives in the board of directors are acquainted with all reports. We are fully confident that we've been operating in accordance with the taxation law and other related laws of Mongolia. Therefore, the company's position is that allegation of evading MNT 35 billion of tax payment is absolutely baseless and we reject this verdict.

-       The court concluded that many provisions of VAT Law and Taxation law were violated. What provisions is the prosecutor saying that you have violated? What are your explanations?

There are several thousands of tax issues arise in Mongolia every year. As of today, there are about 60 thousands of registered business entities in Mongolia. Tax disputes related to these business entities arise and get solved within certain time period. When there is tax dispute, it must go to Tax Arbitration Council for solutions. If the council can't solve the dispute, it is decided through the administrative court. For a case like, first the state tax inspector must conduct tax inspection and make an official act. Based on that act, the tax dispute begins. But there was not any tax inspection on our company. So the question rises on why the tax case was created when there was no tax inspection and no valid act was made on our company. SIA and the prosecutor are not the subjects with the right perform tax inspection. But these organizations are creating a case by stating that they appointed independent experts. I understand that the independent experts must have ability to perform inspection independently. For example, let's say that there was an argument between two people and one of them suggested to get it solved by his brother. It would be obvious that the brother would solve the issue in favor of his sibling. Just like this, officials of the government agency which is the plaintiff to this case is not able to work as the independent experts and prepare independent reports. Therefore, we reject that these experts prepared an independent report. I view that these "not-independent" experts prepared reports that are aimed to put faults on our company in anyway.

-       In what way do the prosecutors claim that you evaded tax payment of MNT 35 billion?

Actually, MNT 25 billion out of MNT 35 billion is unrealized loss from the currency exchange rates. Mongolia is importer country. We don't produce in the country and therefore we use foreign currency to purchase from foreign countries. USD, RMB, etc. Business entities obtain investment or loan in foreign currencies. Or exchange their MNTs into foreign currencies. The currency exchange rate fluctuations create an unrealized loss on the loan that SouthGobi Sands LLC received from its head company. Between 2007 and 2011, the rate of MNT has started weakening. During that period, we record the transactions in MNT on our financial statements. We convert our loan, which is in USD, to MNT and the amount increases each year due to the weakening MNT rate. The prosecutor calls it "false payables". We are still wondering about what they claim. For example, there is almost MNT 300 billion of differences since the "Chinggis bond" was built. So, does that mean we also arrest and sentence people, who built that bond, for creating false payables? Does that mean we punish all those business entities in Mongolia? We provide two different type of report according to law. We prepare tax report for Tax department and financial report for the Ministry of Finance. Mongolian Ministry of Finance accepts the financial reports prepared according to the IFRS. We prepare our two reports according to the required methods. Both of them are prepared according to the related laws in Mongolia. It makes me wonder that if there is a conflict of interest because these experts have ignored accounting primary documents and reports and are trying to prepare a report to wrong us.

-       I see that's what happened to MNT 25 billion. So what about the other MNT 10 billion? What do experts say about that and what are your explanations on that?

Our company was alleged for evading tax payments by transferring goods and services to others for free of charge. But this includes burnt excavator with value of MNT 17 billion, MNT 1.5 billion donation that includes kindergarten in local soum, feed and coal given to local herders, and other donations to the local communities. The IAAC came and conducted investigation on that burnt excavator and sealed it. It is in the parking space of our mine-site. We didn't sell it because it is unusable. So why must we pay for the imposed VAT on that? Just like this, there are also tires, which were depreciated and were deducted from balance.

It has become a tradition that mining companies support and make donations to local communities. Mining companies are building schools, kindergartens, roads therefore supporting their soft and hard infrastructures. Similar to this, we've done number of activities in Gurvantes soum including the building of kindergarten. But they are saying that they're going to impose taxes on our support works, and even on our donations. We don't quite understand about this. Therefore, we and the independent audit organizations, which conducts investigations on our company, believe that we are not required to pay any kind of tax on this.

-       This case started with bribery and in the end, it turned to tax evasion case. The defendants were sentenced to imprisonment. Do you think there is another interest behind the scene?

I don't know about that. When the government officials started corruption case, several companies were investigated. But that case were not proven and the government officials were found that they abused their powers and put pressure on companies. Our case turned to money laundering case and the amount of alleged money reached to our country's annual budget. Eventually, it has come to the situation that we have to pay MNT 300 billion when we made MNT 400 billion of sales. That's what I don't understand. It surprises me that why this has been going on for this long and why the defendants were sentenced when even a simple person can see that there isn't any crime.

-       Wasn't there any opportunity of understanding during this past 3 years?

We have been fully cooperating with the related organizations and providing whatever documents they wanted and. We've made several requests for tax inspection. We told them that if they make an act, there will be basis for the tax dispute. But the Tax department responded that they will not conduct tax inspection due to the ongoing investigation. I wonder that what the relationship between conducting tax inspection and investigation is. Two different organizations should do perform their own duties.

-       Even though you are still wondering about this issue, the court decision has already been made. Three ex-employees of your company were sentenced and decision on your company making the tax payment of MNT 35 billion has finalized?

We've been declaring where we stand for a long time. "This issue should be solved according to the laws and procedures of Mongolia. Tax payment is not determined by you. Professional tax organization determines that. Therefore, General Tax Department must conduct inspection and make an act if there is any violation. But this issue didn't proceed according to the legal process. There are only reports prepared by the "independent" experts who are actually not independent.  Tax case is completely solved by the administrative court. It is very unfortunate that they intentionally aggravated this case, turned it into a criminal case, and imprisoned 3 foreign citizens. Justin Kapla worked in the company for last 6 months and Cajucom for last 4 months of 2011. This case covers the period of time, in which those employees weren't with the company. Actually, I doubt that there is a single citizen of Mongolia, who is imprisoned according to the article 166 of the Criminal Law, such as this. But three foreign citizens are imprisoned for what they didn't commit.

-       There was a talk about imposing penalty of MNT 35 billion firstly. But why would they suddenly sentence the defendants to imprisonment on January 30th?

The prosecutor's sentence recommendation at first was to impose penalty. But she changed her recommendation at the last day. Actually, the prosecutor recommends the sentencing before and attorneys argues on the sentence. Everything becomes wrong when the prosecutor changes the sentence recommendation after everything is finished in terms of principles of trial argument. Basically, we are surprised that the lawyers were not granted with the opportunities to defend their clients when the prosecutor changed her sentence recommendation and judges made the final decision on that. There is also a question arises that whether the trial proceeded according to laws and procedures. We are consulting with our lawyers on this issue. You can also take a look at the trial video recordings and protocol to find out the truth.

-       Three convicted are ex-employees of your company. What relationships do you have with them now?

We are not related as of today. They had a labor agreement with us at that time. All three of them are foreign citizens. One of them worked at the company between 2007 and 2011, and other two are worked at the company from middle of 2011 until the year-end.

-       What are histories of these people? Might they be the fellows who committed economic crimes?

There is no such thing as that. Financial professionals are the citizens of the Philippines. They have worked for internationally reputable companies in their country and other countries with their professions. The American who worked as a director of SouthGobi Sands has a mining profession. Been working in Mongolia since 2003 and was appointed as director of the company in later half of 2011. Also has professional skills and were not accused of any crimes.

-       These people couldn't leave Mongolia for last three years?

As they say, they have spent three Christmases here. During this time, a lot of hardships happened to their family.  People who were close to them have passed away. They couldn't go back home for them. By that, their human rights are being seriously violated. It is hard to say that it would be humanly if we were banned from traveling outside when something bad happens to our family. They had been interviewed as witnesses at first and their status had changed to suspects. In the end, they are convicted and imprisoned.

-       Justin Kapla has pleaded for a pardon from the President. It looks like he really was guilty and therefore pleading for pardon?

I received information that all these three people pleaded for pardon from the President. Obviously, no one would want to stay imprisoned. If the quickest way to get out of prison is to plead a pardon from the President, it would be their lawful rights to do that. They don't have any faith left for the next stage court, since the primary court made an unjust decision.

-       How have these three people been living in Mongolia for the past 3 years? I believe they spent most of their time to visit inspectors?

The two worked different companies. Registered with police regularly. Also notifies and registers when they need to leave Ulaanbaatar. One is 60 years old. Also one's health is not so good. So it's obvious that last three years have not been pleasant for these people.

How human rights are regulated under such circumstances?

I don't have detailed knowledge about that. I have heard that Justin Kapla made a complaint to the Human Rights Committee of United Nations through his lawyers stating that he's been illegally banned for traveling outside of the country for long period of time. Relevant organization of UN sent official questioning letter regarding his statement. I told you earlier. Tax disputes often happen to business owners. I think the question is on whether it was necessary to restrict human freedom for this long for such issue. Furthermore, there is a question that whether it was necessary to ban them from traveling when some bad things happened to their families.

-       The USA is pursuing this matter real good and looking after their person. Did they contact you?

Both countries are working to protect their citizens' rights. There is no Embassy of the Philippines in Mongolia. Their consulate in Beijing came here and worked for number of days on this issue. They have been in constant contact with their lawyers. When I look at the news, online posts and some people's discussion, there's a lot of comments about US being overstepping the boundary. I believe it would be a good thing that the countries pursue to protect their citizens' rights if any of their citizens gets into trouble. Wouldn't we be glad when one of ours gets into trouble in some foreign country, someone from our embassy goes there for his/her well-being? We really don't need to criticize them as "a big country is bullying us" for them doing what they must. Neither the ambassador nor the consulates said "We want to take back our men or we will not get this case solved by your court". What they said only was "we want a fair trial for our men". I think that it is a very simple thing to understand when the US Embassy officials are asking questions such as "Did the defendants correctly understand what judges asked? Was what they said correctly translated?" In democratic society, there should be an opportunity for everyone to protect their human rights. It is simple understanding that any embassy would worry about whether "their citizen's human rights were ensured", or "their citizen was judged according to the laws of Mongolia", or "whether the trial went according to the legal procedures". US Embassy officials were present in the trial for three whole days. There hasn't been any media engagements made by the Embassy of the Philippines. But they are doing the same thing to protect their citizens' rights. There's no such thing that the US are having more rights than the Philippines.

-       What will your company do now? Will you lodge an appeal?

We said we will lodge an appeal. We have just received the court verdict. We will lodge the appeal within 14 days after we get acquainted with the verdict and trial protocol.

-       What are the positions of your company's shareholders or owners?

Our company is registered in Canada. SouthGobi Sands LLC in Mongolia is 100% foreign invested company. There has been a wrong idea among people lately. They are saying that foreigners are taking all our wealth away. Those foreign investor have already made a direct investment of MNT 1.4 trillion. The company has made local procurement of MNT 1.2 trillion since its operation started. You know, there are many businesses that follow mining industry, such as equipment, safety clothes, food, and etc. The company was the "The best tax payer" of 2010-2011 when the mining industry was booming. When we were in full mining operation, we had 700 employees at the company, but now there are about 400 employees. Even though we have only 400 employees now, if we include all supplier companies, lives of thousands of families are related to SouthGobi Sands LLC. Positions by the shareholders and their representatives in the board of directors are definite: "if we did not violate any law, it is right to lodge the appeal". We are confident that we didn't violate any law because we have reports from the most reputable and independent audit companies. They wouldn't lie or make false report because their whole operation of business is based on trust. Investors hire them to conduct audits if their investments are being spent properly. If these audit organizations lie about the reports, no one would hire them. Once they receive bad name for preparing false report, they don't have any other way but to bankrupt. Therefore, the only way they make a living is to conduct legal, legitimate, and trusted audits. On the other hand, the way these so called "independent experts" make a living is not an audit. So for the investors, an answer to a question of who would tell the truth: ones who make a living or ones who were appointed somehow is obvious. Wouldn't the ones who make a living by audit, tell the truth? Therefore, the management of the company believe that it is right to lodge the appeal since the company didn't violate any laws of Mongolia.

-       Outside world is interested in this case. There are reports saying that Mongolia is being harsh to foreign investments and foreign citizens?

Even though our company is 100% foreign invested, 99% of the employees is Mongolian. We absolutely don't want to tarnish our country's reputation. It would be misunderstanding if you say that the reputation of Mongolia is being tarnished by us. The accused happened to be foreign citizens. And they would definitely defend their rights. Their families and even some of the senators of US are trying to protect their citizen's rights. They have put this case in spotlight which attracted worldwide attention. They doubt the court decision because the reports by international audit companies and our country's experts are differing. It is a question of "Would you believe in the reports prepared by the reputable and trusted international audit company?" or "Would you believe in various reports made by officials who work for government organizations therefore have conflict of interest"? For this reason, international media is making this case sensational. They have the rights to do that. It is investors' and convicts' families' rights to make an announcement wherever they want. We made announcement from the company. I haven't given interview in foreign media so far. I wanted to give information regarding this issue to Mongolian media first; therefore I am giving an interview to "Daily News".

-       They're a report that the court didn't make smart decision when investments are down, and economy is in bad shape?

During Mongolian Empire period, there was Pax Mongolica, which allowed the foreign traders to make trades in Mongolian territory without fear from anyone. They had a special signed tabula that brought them a freedom of trading. The say that, due to this Mongolians' initiative, the technological exchanges between the east and the west advanced and thus helped development of world. It is unfortunate that the foreign investors are being chased and driven off the country by Mongolians who had started the free trading thousands years ago.

-       There is an idea that someone who wants to buy your company, is creating this situation intentionally?

I have been working as the Executive director of SouthGobi Sands LLC since July of 2013. The mine operation resumed in 2013, after one year the mine operation had completely halted. Main purpose of my job is to continue company's operation sustainably. I am not politician and I have never held any political position. I worked in big Mongolian business companies. I have been striving to keep the operation of the company stable during this difficulty faced by coal market. Since my appointment as the President and CEO of the parent company, SouthGobi Resources LLC in December last year, my participation in this issue has increased. It is hard to say who is interested in what because I wasn't there in the beginning. Even it is hard to say when I look at it today. But, in my personal opinion, it is not important whether it was an issue between two people or an issue between two business entities. The most important thing is the way the court of Mongolia operates. Are they really being equally fair to Mongolian and foreign citizens? Are they fairly judging the case of foreign and domestic companies? For this, we are rejecting the reports prepared by these so called "independent experts". Why did they reach this conclusion? This is the issue in front of me. Solving the issue of made-up amount of MNT 35 billion.

-       This case has been going on for a long time and had some entanglements. Do you think that every stage of the court would keep the decision as it is?

We will go to the end until this case is solved according to the law. There are two steps for an appeal. If the truth is not found in there, we will go wherever we see there is possible a just solution.

-       Well, I see, that was basically all about this case. So how is the current condition of SouthGobi Sands LLC when the economy is down and mineral price is also down?

We've made total of MNT 700 billion of sales since 2007 and made tax payment of MNT 200 billion to the state budget. 200 schools can be built by the taxes we paid. As I said before, we've made local procurement of MNT 1.2 trillion. I believe that was a big contribution to Mongolian economy. Besides, we spent MNT 8 billion for donations and investments to the local area development. We are one of four leading companies in terms of mining coals and exports. We sold 3.2 million tons of coal in 2013 and it was reduced to 2.1 million tons in 2014. But we didn't stop our operation. We aimed for more this year. In conclusion, who would think about violating law when you already have made investments of MNT 1.4 trillion? There's no stupid person to do that.

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Cabinet backs amendment to law on occupational safety

Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) The cabinet decided to submit to parliament a draft law on amending the law on occupational safety and health on Wednesday.

A number of occupational accidents in 2014 reached 333, decreasing against 2013 by 18 percent but increasing in a number of deaths, a number of those suffering from occupational illnesses stood at 4,505, some 83 percent of whom were engaged in heavy industry, geology and mining spheres. By this reason, the cabinet has developed this draft as was obligated by the parliament resolution issued in 2013.

The amendments suggest changes to activate roles and involvement of related Ministries and Governors in the implementation of the law on occupational safety and health, designate numbers of vacant and non-vacant officers in charge of occupational safety and health in organizations considering their risk levels and staff numbers, and to precisely determine the responsibilities of those officers.

If adopted, the amendments are expected to serve in clarification of responsibilities of the officers responsible for occupational safety, in improving their working environments, in establishing safety management system, as well as in improving a coordination of decisions and actions regarding the occupational safety matters.

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Minister D.Erdenebat: We're aiming to set foundations for industrialization

February 26 (UB Post) Member of Parliament and Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat gave an interview about various industrial development issues.

The government submitted a draft policy for the industrial sector. What's been included in the draft policy?

The past 25 years have proved that Mongolia will not industrialize without initiations from the government and state. Mongolia has accomplished many things while forming a democratic society for 25 years. Nevertheless, many things were lost. One of them is the industrialization policy. Mongolia's economy has become unstable, dependent on price spikes of mining raw materials, because Mongolia's industrialization is underdeveloped. Well-organized planning and policy is urgently required for industrializing.

Mongolians misunderstand that mining is industrialization. There are people who think that they can continue their livelihood by selling Mongolia's resources. It's become clear that mining resources can't establish a sustainable economic growth. Also, we'll be in trouble when resources exhaust. Probably, everyone has realized that industrialization is crucial for maintaining economic stability. For that reason, the Ministry of Industrialization was established. The newly formed ministry has to develop the desiderated industrialization policy.

The draft policy for industrial sector has determined well-developed and organized rational concepts for developing the sector. Fundamentally, the key to economic growth has been determined as industrialization in the draft. Light, heavy, processing plants, as well as agricultural and energy projects have been included in the draft as essential to industrialization.

The Ministry of Industry is mainly focusing on improving the heavy industry sector. How will heavy industries be supported?

The industrialization draft policy has included three fundamental objectives for industrial development. The first is to expand heavy industrialization. Basically, to establish plants that'll produce main raw materials. Mongolia can process mining raw materials and produce main raw materials such as copper, steel and coking coal. The next objective is to establish plants to produce products with these main raw materials. Afterwards, Mongolia could strive towards precision manufacturing, producing cars and machinery.

Another objective is to develop processing plants. Mongolia has determined to fully process fur, leather, wool and cashmere. The major part of developing heavy industry includes building an oil processing plant. Mongolia has been discussing to establish an oil plant for many years, but never reached a conclusion. The Ministry of Mining has been given the task to make the initial solution for setting up an oil production plant. Our 15 companies already developed a project for building this plant and the government has approved nearly half of the draft policy. Yet, not a single plant has begun construction. This shows that the heavy industry cannot be developed without government policy and regulation.

Approving the policy is a sign that the industrial sector will be supported. However, not every plant will be supported, right?

Indeed. I reviewed industrializations done in the past. Projects were financed without integrated policy or order, and didn't yield results. Providing concessional financing for industrial projects was a good move, but executing them without order was wrong.

Projects that received investment from Chinggis Bond last year and the year before will show results this spring. Few projects enforced by capable and experienced companies with professional personnel management are likely to give adequate results. It's unfortunate that the majority of investments supporting industrialization was turned into a tool for inflating interest rates of investments. Issuing investment for some under-developed and useless projects not only distorted the government policy but also increased import demand and inflated the economy. This mistake should be acknowledged and corrected. We don't have the right to mess up again.

Are you implying that the investment for 888 projects for promoting import-substituting and encouraging exports was implemented with flaws?

Last year, over 200 of the 888 project received investments. There are many projects planned to be implemented this year. Our ministry is developing regulations for selecting projects to receive investment. Whether companies have adequate base, professional personnel, and management for implementing a project will definitely be evaluated. Over 3,000 projects requested investment. Projects will be examined in accordance with regulations. At least 70 percent of the projects receiving investment have to be effective and beneficial. Setting requirements is the foundation for executing good projects with high competitiveness rate and implemented by professionals with new advanced technologies. These regulations and requirements have been issued in the draft policy paper. The idea that anyone can write up a fairytale-like project and attempt to get investment should be completely eradicated.

Strategy planning for industrialization is said to be developed. How many years will the planning cover?

I'm confident that MPs will support the draft industrialization policy at the parliamentary spring session as the concept and foundation are all correct. Strategy planning will be developed consistent with the draft policy and then, the government will approve it. Targets will be set every five years and results will be accounted along the process. After five years, the general picture for Mongolia's industry sector in 10 to 15 years will be drawn out. The location and type of industry to be set up will also be determined depending on the animal husbandry sector, population density, environmental features, and raw materials before receiving approval from the government. Like so, policy, planning, and blueprints for industrial development will become ready. These tasks will be accomplished within spring. Investors will develop projects according to the plans and blueprints, and make their demand. If policy planning is consistent with blueprints, the government will pass it. If necessary, financial aid will be provided.

Some countries practice tax exemption to boost industrialization.  Will the Ministry of Industry initiate tax exemption?

Tons of businesses came to us requesting for credit and tax exemption. Credit and tax exemption is completely possible. Companies will have to introduce new technology, increase workplaces, purchase raw materials from domestic sources, manufacture import substitution products, and maintain suitable prices to receive credit and tax exemption. When these conditions are met, we can proudly negotiate tax exemption with the government. Our ministry established a one-year contract for Erdenet and Darkhan industrial parks. We can negotiate tax exemption by next year if trades and exchange of goods proceed well and industries of these parks are able to cluster, promoting national productions.

Five years targets have been planned in three stages, meaning that results will be seen by 2030. Wouldn't it be motivating to announce the things that'll have been accomplished by 2030? For instance, Kazakhstan has set an ambitious goal to develop production and become one of the five big powers of the world by 2050.

Yes, I think it's a good idea too. But it is wrong to move ahead of time in a hurry. Before announcing our ambitions, our draft policy should first get approved by the government. Within the scope of strategic planning, everything will be shown in graphs and we'll make estimations and announcement about where Mongolia will have reached by 2030 for heavy, light, small, medium industry sectors as well as for management and technology.

Presently, processing plant takes up merely eight percent of Mongolia's GDP. The rest is provided from mining. Mongolians believe that Mongolia has developed, when in reality, we were only getting ahead of ourselves as prices of mining products increased and brought in a few more profit to Mongolia. Still, Mongolia stumbled when the prices of raw materials fell. Now, everyone's looking for someone to blame. This is wrong. During this time, we should be looking towards the future and striving towards it. Everything will become politicized once elections draw nearer. Everyone will start seeking someone to put the blame on. If there's someone to blame, it's all of us. We're all at fault since we all became swell-headed and scattered money together. Like the proverb, "Don't cry over spilt milk", we shouldn't be crying over our mistake. I will look ahead and work hard. The main objective is to transform this country into an industrialized country with well-managed industries. Lives of many will see dramatic changes once industrialization develops in Mongolia.

Source: mongolnews.mn /1h7t

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What kind of political party are Mongolians missing?

By Jargalsaikhan "De Facto" Dambadarjaa

March 1 (UB Post) A detailed survey on public perception and attitude towards Mongolia's economic, business, and political environment was carried out by Sant Maral Foundation in November, 2014. Half of the survey respondents believed that Mongolia was on the wrong track, whereas one-third thought that we were heading to the right direction. Also, the biggest obstacle facing Mongolia was seen to be economic decline by half of the respondents, while 17 percent believed that it was corruption. Forty percent of total respondents thought that the largest economic problem was employment, 21 percent stated that it was poverty, and 19 percent perceived that inflation was the prime culprit for economic hardship.

This survey clearly demonstrates that Mongolians are frustrated and feel hopeless about the recurring economic recessions, the livelihoods that aren't improving regardless of strong efforts, and falling purchasing power.

What is adding fuel to the fire is that the government keeps getting bigger while people cannot find jobs and the income inequality gap widens. After a long time without government stability and clarity around the budget, the long term economic vision fades and the people have lost their faith in the government. Also, the private sector, the driver of economy, has gone into a position filled with doubt and expectations.

As if they listened to the demanding cries of the public, several groups of citizens announced that they would be forming new political forces at the beginning of the year. One of those groups is the Khugjil Khun club, which was established just before the Lunar New Year. The club consists of younger, educated people, most of whom acquired their degrees abroad. They announced that they would be spearheading technocrats who are united under a common goal and a shared passion to find a solution to the current political and economic problems. The club called on other like-minded people to join them.

Approximately 27 percent of our population today are under the age of 15, and 38 percent are 15 to 35 years old. This means that around 65 percent of our total population does not have the firsthand experience of living in a socialist society. These people, along with many others, have been demanding a different type of public governance – a new kind of government.

WEAKNESS OF POLITICAL PARTIES

The current political parties in ruling power and the groups of people representing them are not able to run the country, regardless of what coalitions they come up with. Consecutive economic recessions, recurrent changes in government, ever-growing debt, the entitlement mentality of the public, rising crime rates, and an increasing number of business bankruptcies clearly demonstrate that the manner they are running the country today has long been obsolete.

These political parties have grown old in their cradle without being able to get out of it, as they are guided by loyalty to their seniors rather than a true will to run the country. These political parties are representing and protecting the interests of a few individuals instead of serving the public, and have been faking democracy by deceiving the people with fancy words and empty promises. As soon as the political parties acquire ruling power, they forget their election promises, get comfortably used to power and authority, and become willing to promise anything in order to retain their seats after the next election. It has been long since these political parties have marked their territory on public property and replaced their management with their own men. As a result, companies that are hidden behind the name "state" or "government" are now owned by only a handful of individuals. Almost all state-owned companies are completely debt-ridden and are running deficits while toying with money from taxpayers. For example, if the state-owned company Erdenes Tavantolgoi had not been established, Mongolians would not have a debt of one billion USD today.

Political power has been "privatized" by the political parties, which is why many desperately needed development projects, especially those in mining and infrastructure, go into a stalemate unless they are profitable for the incumbent authorities. The projects that were started by the previous government are now stuck for some odd reasons. It shows that the Mongolian government has lost its continuity.

These political parties are now owned by their senior management. Therefore, only a few individuals at the top, the "mafia bosses", make decisions about where money would come from and what it should be spent on. This situation makes it impossible for the political parties to voluntarily start reform from inside the organization.

EXPECTATIONS FOR A NEW POLITICAL PARTY

In a democratic society, people who hope to acquire ruling power unite with each other and found a political party. The members of a political party share the same ideology, as well as social values, while actively taking part in achieving their political party's mission. The primary responsibilities of a political party are representing the people, developing policies, preparing their leaders, establishing the government, and calling on voters to take part.

A political party is a non-profit organization and it must have its objectives clearly defined, setting out what changes it would bring once the political party assumes ruling power. Every party member must be aware of the extent of their involvement in achieving the party's goals and be committed to making them happen.

However, Mongolian political parties and their members are not able to fulfill these responsibilities. It is the reason why people are not accepting them as governance institutions. Therefore, Mongolians today are looking at the individual, not the political party they represent, when voting. But political power is granted to a political party, not an individual.

If a new political party has a clearly set ideology, transparent operations, and a system where decisions are made collaboratively rather than by a single individual, it will be able to receive broad-based support from people. When it comes to structural changes, political parties must have clear principles that are acknowledged by all members.

The most pressing problem in Mongolia's democracy today is making political party financing transparent. It cannot be done by the current political parties as they would have to reveal that they have violated many laws. It is time to establish a political institution that produces quarterly financial reports, has them audited, and discloses the results to the public.

The General Election Commission should be changed to a Commission of Voters, the governing board of which should consist of widely acknowledged and respected individuals, mostly those without political affiliations. If this standard, followed in countries with more mature democracies than ours is adopted by a new political force, it would instantly make them different than others.

Mongolians are waiting for a political party with a clear ideology, good leadership, integrity, and, at least, transparent financial reporting.

If the current political parties are not able to undertake such changes and transform, it is time to discard them and a new political party should be welcomed. It must not be forgotten that people must maintain strong requirements and standards to ensure that the new political parties do not make the same mistakes as the former ones have.

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Khan Bank CEO: Mongolia should focus on what must be done and act quickly

February 26 (Mongolian Economy) Norihiko Kato, Chief Executive Officer of Khan Bank, has extensive banking experience in corporate banking and strategic corporate planning. He held the position of Regional Head for the Middle East and General Manager of Bahrain Branch, BTMU (Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) from 2006 to 2009.  Norihiko Kato, the Chief Executive Officer of Khan Bank, started living and working in Mongolia in 2009.

Khan Bank must have many novelties to offer to both its international and national customers. What is the latest news from Khan Bank? We heard that the bank has maintained its rating by Moody's.

At the moment, the Mongolian economy is facing a difficult situation and critical views of global investors and rating agencies, and the Mongolian banks are vigilant. Lately, Moody's downgraded its ratings on some Mongolian banks but Khan Bank has maintained the same rating as the sovereign rating. I think that it has mainly come from Khan Bank's well-diversified business portfolio including relatively stable retail business and retail loan portfolio.

I believe that Khan Bank's strong effort to maintain transparency and good corporate governance brought positive effect when the rating agency reviewed our performance. Still the economic environment hasn't recovered, and the macroeconomic situation is difficult as ever. So we have to be very vigilant and move quickly to fix the pending macroeconomic issues. I'm sure each bank is working hard to minimize and manage risks under this difficult circumstance.

The bank is applying for a custodian service license. Could you provide us with more details on this subject?

Custody business has a good potential, and it is a very important business that Mongolia should have. With strong sub-custodians in the country, we can attract more investment from around the world into Mongolia in government and corporate bonds and Mongolian companies' stocks, etc. This sub-custodian capability is essential for the Mongolian economy. However custodian business requires strong system and operational capacity with solid and detailed procedures. Accordingly, it's a good fit for the banks, but we still need significant amount of investment and effort. It may take at least a few years or even more time for this business to become profitable. In the mid to long-term, it could be a great business opportunity for the banks. Recently, two other commercial banks have received custodian service license. We are also preparing license application to the authorities. There are several things that we have to complete prior to submitting the application to the regulators. Once we receive the license, we would like to move quickly to make this service available in this country. We are closely contacting global investors and global custodians. Those global custodians work for many kinds of global investors including those who are potentially interested in investing in Mongolia. Global custodians collaborate with local sub-custodians to provide good custodian services to their clients, so they are very careful in arranging cooperation with the sub-custodians. Mongolian banks need to work hard to provide good level of custody business services with effective and solid operations and controls, so that we can meet the global custodians' expectations.

How do you see the future of custodian services in Mongolia? Do you think that all commercial banks should be involved in this business?

Entering into sub-custodian business is subject to each bank's strategy but it needs a large amount of system investment, in addition to building strong operational capacity. We will need to do many things registrations, dividend payment, tax payment, correct reporting and these must be automated and no mistakes are allowed. Due to nature of this business, the number of banks that can carry out such operations could be small. Also, there is constraint caused by size of the market and size of the economy.  Yet, there should be at least a few sub-custodians to operate, so that global custodians feel comfortable. Having only one sub-custodian in one country could be risky.

How do investors see this potential opportunity? Are they excited or hesitant?

There are global investors who are interested in Mongolia. Unfortunately, Mongolia's current economic situation and image of the country to the world are less appealing than before. However there are number of foreign investments already made, and in the mid to long term, Mongolia has great potential. That's why the big global custodian banks are interested in the progress of development of Mongolia's capital markets including custodian business and other areas—they stay tuned for updates on the development of investment environment in Mongolia. They are cautious as they don't want to upset their global clients. Large institutional investors generally don't invest in a country without custodian services. There are smaller and independent investors who come and invest in stocks on Mongolian Stock Exchange and Government bonds through brokerage firms.

How would you describe the current banking sector of Mongolia and its future?

The immediate challenges of the bank are assets quality and liquidity. After two years of credit-driven monetary policy, the policy interest rate was finally increased at the end of July, 2014. The Bank of Mongolia and Government policy shifted to unwind those policy credit programs gradually though they still have such programs but on a smaller scale. The policy makers are now tightening money supply to avoid hyperinflation and credit bubbles to burst. Consequently, the liquidity of the market is now much tighter than before and the growth of the economy is much slower. For ordinary customers, getting loans from banks could be a bit more difficult and costly. Of course, Khan Bank operates very carefully to maintain appropriate level of liquidity, so that we are always liquid enough to meet our customers' needs. Those issues-liquidity and assets quality-are the Mongolian banks' immediate challenges, I would say.

In 2009, we suffered negative GDP growth and at that time, the banks' non-performing loan ratios were much higher than those of today. We learned our lesson, and now all banks are paying extra attention to manage their asset's quality.

Mongolians trust Khan Bank. How does the bank maintain its trust amongst the people? And what is the bank's plan to expand its customer base in the future?

I really appreciate our valued customers' trust in Khan Bank. We have the largest branch network across the country to serve retail customers, SME customers and growing number of corporate customers as well. It is our utmost priority to meet the customers' expectations and trust. The bank must be financially solid, so that it can provide efficient financial services at all times. Also, disclosure is very important. In Mongolia, currently, no banks are listed. If the companies are listed in the stock exchange, there should be rigorous disclosure requirements. The banks are currently following the Bank of Mongolia's disclosure requirements and guidelines. In a way, it is the minimum requirement. All banks are trying to be more open and transparent as you can see from the banks website. In return, the banks would be able to earn confidence of investors, customers and depositors. More proactive disclosure beyond the minimum requirement should be one of the important efforts of the bank.

How do you see the potential of the Mongolian economy? Can we go beyond the expectations of global investors and bankers?

Mongolia is rich in natural resources and with a relatively small number of populations who are generally well-educated, intelligent and hard-working; the country has a bright future and interesting potential. It should not only explore mining resources but also should work on diversifying the economy; it's called inclusive development. Policymakers should keep this in mind. Mining will probably bring wealth sooner if we can move right. Then we can use this wealth to develop other parts of the economy.

Regarding diversification, do you think instead of defining the mining sector as a leading economic contributor, the banking sector should play a bigger role in helping the economy to grow?

The country's banking sector functions to raise funds and provide the funds to other sectors for growth like blood vessels. Today we are importing foreign capital as we need foreign direct investment for the development but in the future, Mongolia might become a capital-exporter country. In order to do that, we need to introduce a variety of financial services; managing fund investment like oil-producing countries, for example. Investing in other capital markets will require more sophisticated services from the financial institutions. But this is a bit far away issue. It's okay to dream a bit, but Mongolia should focus on what must be done now and act quickly.

What must the banking sector really do now?

We have to manage the liquidity and problem loan situation, and to improve quality of customer services to meet their financial needs. There's no miracle or easy way to do this but solid efforts and continuous improvements will move us forward.

The bank has earned a certification for achieving international standards in information security. How does it benefit your customers?

Information security is one of the most important elements for banks as well as for other industries. Khan Bank has recently obtained ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard certification. It certifies that we have a global standard level of information security management system in place. By establishing Information Security Management System in accordance with the requirements of ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard,  the bank receives many benefits including protection of customer information and the bank's information assets from external and internal threats, prevention and mitigation of risks related with information security for ensuring its sustainable operation. The process of establishing Information Security Management System took us about a year and a half. Then we received a certification audit from the certified global institution. Getting the certificate was not the utmost goal but to adhere to international requirements in our daily operations was the priority. We will go through surveillance audit every year, so this is not a one shot achievement but something we must continue and maintain at all the time. ISO/IEC 27001:2013 is the latest version of the international standard for information security. I'm pleased that we are the first institution to receive such a certificate in Mongolia.

What is the bank's core ideology?

Khan Bank is a Mongolian bank. We have both foreign and Mongolian shareholders, and we are regulated by the Mongolian laws and regulations and we provide services to Mongolian customers throughout the country. I want Khan Bank to continue supporting the sustainable development of the Mongolian economy, keeping our customers' trust in us. We always strive to demonstrate the best practices and improve what we're doing now.

How long have you been in this position? What changes have you witnessed during your time?

I have been in this position for almost three years now. I first came to Mongolia in 2009 as an advisor to Khan Bank and then I took the position of Chief Executive Officer in 2011 first as acting. So far, the country's development is impressive. Generally, the living standard has been improved, and the private sector has become much stronger than before. Even though we have many issues to deal with, the rapid economic growth of the recent years has brought significant development to the country so far. But again, there is much we need to do quickly in order to sustain the healthy growth.

What would you personally advise the banking sector?

Not only the banks but also financial institutions should work hard to improve their management skills and services to grow in a sustainable manner. Short-term opportunistic growth is not sustainable. The correct policies, correct regulations and correct practices are the key to the long-term sustainable growth.

Link to interview

 

MRAM says technical problems with exploration license applications resolved

February 26 (news.mn) The Ministry of Mining has reported that the issuance of exploration licenses has been carried out fairly and without lobbying. Exploration licenses are being provided through an online method, utilizing modern techniques and applications, and although there were technical problems when they were first made available, there are no problems now.   

During the last few months, the issue of exploration licenses has been under public scrutiny. Exploration licenses have not been issued for the last few years, and when they returned in 2014, they were being provided by an online registration process. Several critics have asked question about the proper and faithful issuance of the exploration licenses and whether or not bias through personal interests has occurred.     

In total, 691 enterprises have registered for licenses with the Mineral Resources Authority, from which 619 enterprises have purchased VPN equipment required for the application process.

As of February 23, 2015, 285 enterprises have entered the system and have received application numbers for exploration licenses.

Of the total registered enterprises 642 are domestic investment companies and 39 are 100 percent foreign investment companies. Fifteen Chinese investment companies are involved in the process, eight from Singapore, three are from Australia and Canada, two from Luxemburg, and eight are investing from other countries.

Link to article

 

INVITATION: CMCC@PDAC 2015, March 1

Link to event

 

Mongolia, Germany Sign 2nd Phase of Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative Cooperation

February 27 (gogo.mn) State Secretary at Ministry of Industry D.Nyamkhuu has signed agreement on Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative yesterday.

The Integrated Mineral Resources Initiative (IMRI) brings together three German federal ministries – namely the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Federal Foreign Office – in a partnership for the first time, alongside GIZ, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and the private sector.

The main partner is Mongolia's National Development and Innovation Committee (NDIC). The initiative cooperates with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mogi: state agencies that are no more). Other partners include government agencies such as the Mineral Resources Authority, the standardisation authority and the privatisation agency, as well as the stock exchange, financial supervisory authority, and non-governmental organisations.

First stage of the initiative has been implemented in cooperation with Ministry of Economic Development during October 2012 to October 2014.

The second phase of the initiative is to be implemented in cooperation with Ministry of Industry.

State Secretary of Ministry of Industry D.Nyamkhuu and Representative of GIZ Ulrike Ebeling have signed the agreement.

Link to article

Related:

Initiative will continue on minerals and raw materials programMontsame, February 27

 

Monpolymet's Garamjav on Forbes' Asia 50 Power Businesswomen 2015

27 newcomers to this year's list

SINGAPORE, February 26, 2015(Forbes) – Forbes recognizes 50 powerful businesswomen in Asia who are driving change across diverse industries in its fourth annual Asia's Power Businesswomen list. The full list is available here as well as in the latest issue of Forbes Asia, available on newsstands now.

To make the list, candidates have to be active in the upper echelons of the business world in Asia, wield significant power and have access to robust financial resources.

Garamjav Tseden 56 (Mongolia)

Chairman and Founder, Monpolymet Group

Tseden founded Monpolymet in 1992 with a focus on gold mining but has since expanded into construction, mineral exploration and land rehabilitation. She runs the company—with annual revenue of around $60 million —with her daughter, who is CEO. Monpolymet properties include the Toson gold deposit and the Senjit Hudag limestone deposit. It is constructing a $230 million technologically advanced, environmentally friendly dry-process cement plant, the first of its kind in Mongolia. The plant is partly financed by multilateral and state banks. She is the recipient of multiple awards from the government for her work.  

Link to release

Link to Garamjav profile

 

Concession agreements to be signed on 420 kms of cross-country roads

Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet resolved at its meeting on February 25 to allow the Investment Authority to conclude the concession contracts with the executor companies for several road construction projects.

The decision will serve the projects: on constructions of 165 kilometer road connecting Altai and Darvi, 120 km road connecting the ends of Moron-Tarialan and Dashinchilen-Orkhon bridge roads, 135.5 km road connecting Songino soum and Khyargas lake.

The Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat was obligated to manage and supervise the process of concluding the contracts, in harmony with related regulations. Other Ministers will bear responsibilities for reflecting in annual state budgets the repayments of the project investments.

The roads' running will start this April.

Link to article

 

Tight times for Mongolia's retail sector

February 25 (Oxford Business Group) A cooling economy, persistently high inflation and tighter credit regulations will maintain pressure on Mongolia's retail sector throughout 2015, though demand for shop space in certain segments remains strong.

In its latest update on the Mongolian economy, the World Bank said double-digit inflation and the high current account deficit had affected domestic demand, adding momentum to the pressures on the economy. "Without a strong rebound in foreign investment, pressure on the balance of payments will increase vulnerabilities and continue to dampen economic growth next year. Domestic demand will continue to be under pressure, particularly affecting the non-mining sector," the bank said at the end of 2014.  

The non-mining segment of the economy was dragged down by weakness in the construction and wholesale/retail sectors last year, with these pressures set to continue.  According to the World Bank, the wholesale/retail segment contracted 6.8% in the first nine months of 2014, having experienced a similar rate of negative growth in the same period a year earlier.  

As growth in the sector has slowed, there has been a near threefold increase in the level of non-performing and past-due-date loans, which were valued at MNT227bn ($113.5m) at the end of October, accounting for 21.6% of problematic loans across the economy.

Retailers are likely to be affected by tighter lending requirements and higher interest rates introduced by the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) in 2014, which led to a slowdown in private sector credit growth to 22% in October, down from more than 53% a year earlier.

Growth amidst the gloom

Despite a weaker performance in 2014, new investments are still being rolled out. In mid-December, property management and development firm Mongolian Growth Group (MGG) opened the first stage of the Tuguldur Centre, an 80-year-old building which has been renovated to accommodate a new retail complex in Ulaanbaatar, close to the capital's business hub. The property is 99% leased, according to MGG, with strong interest in its second stage.

In a statement issued to investors at the beginning of 2015, Harris Kupperman, MGG's chairman and CEO, said the company had at least one other retail development in the pipeline, targeting the same market as the Tuguldur Centre. This suggests that prime retail space remains in strong demand in the city centre, despite the economic slowdown.

Local retailers are also looking to increase their profile in secondary urban centres away from the capital, tapping into a growing affluence brought about by higher employment levels and earning power stemming from the development of the mining and industrial sectors in more remote areas. While Ulaanbaatar remains the main population and economic hub, cities in the north and east are expanding, offering retail opportunities.

This expansion was given added impetus in late December when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced it was extending a MNT23.3bn ($11.63m) loan facility to retailer Nomintav Trade. The company, part of the Nomin Group, specialises in fast-moving consumer goods, apparel and consumer electronics. The funds will be used to support development of six new outlets in various regions, as well as in Ulaanbaatar itself, where it already has a significant presence.

Rising wages to feed into retail

Consumer spending is likely to be given a boost in 2015 following the decision announced by the government in mid-January to increase public service wages by 10%. Another decision taken as a result of negotiations between the labour ministry and representatives of trade unions will see private sector workers on the basic wage exempt from paying personal income tax; with the minimum wage currently MNT192,500 ($96.25) a month, this means a further MNT12,000 ($6) will be added to the disposable income of many lower-income families.

However, even this modest increase in spending power could fuel further inflation, which was running at 11.5% as of the end of November, and also weaken the fiscal discipline called for by the World Bank as necessary to sustain growth and boost economic resilience.

Link to article

 

Mongolia Investment Forum Held in Seoul to Attract Foreign Investment

February 27 (infomongolia.com) On February 25, 2015, the "Investment Forum" was organized in Seoul by the Embassy of Mongolia to the Republic of Korea in collaboration with Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

The event was hosted in the frames of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries that marks in 2015, where over 170 representatives from leading South Korea's companies have participated namely Samsung, Posco, Daewoo, Halla, Derim, Korean Air Lines Co. (KAL), Asiana, Korea Railroad Co. (Korail), Korea Power Engineering Co. (Kopec), Korea Land and Housing Co. (LH), K-Water, Hyundai, and Hanwha Group as well as economic research institutes, banks and financial institutions were also present.

The opening remarks were delivered by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Korea B.Ganbold, who introduced Mongolia's current implementing measures and policy to support foreign direct investment, as well as Executive Vice President & Board Member at KOTRA, Won Sok-yun and Director-General for Bilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kim Seung-ho respectively.

Mongolia and the Republic of Korea have established the diplomatic relations on March 26, 1990. 

Link to article

Related:

Investment meeting held in SeoulMontsame, February 27

 

Poland Offers All-Expense-Paid Study Tour for Mongolian Journalists and Entrepreneurs

February 27 (Mongolian Economy) The M Promotion Agency that conducts the "Export Stimulation on Selected Markets" Promotion Program designed by Polish Ministry of Economy has the honour to invite Mongolian entrepreneurs and journalists of mining sector interested in developing cooperation with Polish companies for an all-expenses-paid Study Tour in Poland organized to acquaint them with potential of Polish enterprises of the sector mentioned above.

The Study Tour will be held in between 11th and 16th of May 2015 in Lowersilesian Voivodeship. During the six-day Study Tour, Mongolian entrepreneurs, apart from taking part in two B2B meetings with 24 polish entrepreneurs interested in cooperation with Mongolian companies, will visit 3 headquarters of companies representing the mining machines producers sector. Additionally, they will have an opportunity to familiarize with the functioning of Special Economic Zone while visiting its headquarters. Finally, participants will get to know a little bit more about Polish history and monuments of Wrocław, while enjoying a sightseeing tour and taking part in interesting cultural events. Moreover, they will be able to try Polish cuisine and exchange experiences at lunches and dinners organized in the best restaurants serving Polish cuisine. A detailed program of the event will be known soon.

The main aim of the Study Tour is to promote Polish export of selected branches of industries and to tighten the trade between Poland and countries taking part in the "Export Stimulation on Selected Markets" Program.

The Executor covers all travel expenses (flight and taxi), the accommodation and alimentation here in Poland, so by accepting the invitation you would not incur any of those costs.

If you are interested in participating in the Study Tour inform us soon, as the quantity of places is limited. 

In case of any questions, please contact us.

We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Martyna Majewska

Communication & PR Specialist

martyna.majewska@mpromotion.com.pl

www.madeinpoland2015.wordpress.com

Agencja M Promotion

Plac Hallera 5/12a

03-464 Warszawa

POLAND

T: +48 22 818 00 23

T: +48 795 650 491

www.mpromotion.com.pl

Link to article

 

Macau Looks to Attract Wealthy Mongolian Gamblers

Controlled visitation gathering momentum

February 27 (Macau Business Daily ) Macau is different to Hong Kong. Alexis Tam, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture went to pains to make the distinction. This, in order to clarify that the decision to cap Mainland visitation is still in the embryonic stages.

"We are different from Hong Kong. They said they would cut the number of visitors. But we did not say that here in Macau. Actually, I talked about this issue before they did in Hong Kong and what I said was that we have to control and optimise [number of visitors]", the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chon Weng, said yesterday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Tourism Development Council that took place at the Tourism Activities Centre.

Alexis Tam also clarified that in relation to a cap on Mainland tourists nothing had been defined and that all the possibilities will be studied by the Macau and Central Governments.

"A cap on tourists is not defined yet. We have to consider the options but we cannot all of a sudden cut the number of tourist entries. Any policy in this aspect will be adopted gradually", he said. "I consider 31 million tourists to be a decent number that has to be maintained. But we have to consider that our transport infrastructure, such as the LRT, is not yet ready and that without improving it we cannot meet the needs of Macau people", he added.

"Nowadays, there are 49 provinces or cities that have an Individual Visit Scheme to come to Macau. Now we want to study with Chinese authorities what can be done in order to improve this situation. Some cities from the north of China have not come to Macau and we want to change that. Also, in Mongolia there are cities with a large spending power that we want to attract", he added.

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Diplomacy

Speaker receives Mitsubishi Senior VP for Mineral Investment

Ulaanbaatar, February 27 (MONTSAME) The Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Corporation and the Chief Operating Officer of Mineral Resources Investment Division Mr Kanji Nishiura paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Mongolian Parliament Mr Z.Enkhbold on February 27.

The Mitsubishi COO thanked the Speaker for paying a visit to Japan and said they are cooperating with Mongolians in an implementation of the Ulaanbaatar international airport project.

In response, Mr Enkhbold emphasized that the contributions of Japan's investors and companies are of high importance in the development of the bilateral relations. He inquired about and exchanged his views on certain matters regarding the Corporations' cooperation in the above project as the main executor. "This project will commission the airport in accordance with appropriate timing and regulations, I hope, and I will appreciate if Mitsubishi Corporation participates also in many other mega projects and lead other foreign investors and private entities in investing in  and cooperate with Mongolia," he said. 

Present at the meeting were the members of the Mongolia-Japan Friendship Group in the State Great Khural, an adviser to the Speaker A.Gansukh, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Japan S.Khurelbaatar.

Link to article

Related:

Speaker Meets Keidanren AuthorityMontsame, February 26

 

Mongolia speaker thanks JICA president for over 20 years of assistance

Ulaanbaatar, February 27 (MONTSAME) The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) Z.Enkhbold Friday received Mr Akihiko Tanaka, the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in frames of his official visit to Japan.

Expressing thanks to the Speaker for receiving him, Mr Tanaka concluded that the visit of the Speaker of Mongolia has been successful. The JICA has been running its activities in Mongolia for many years, and the sides have a significant history of the cooperation, he emphasized.

In response, the Speaker said he is happy to meet the authority of the JICA that has been significantly contributing to an economic development of Mongolia for over 20 years. Loans and assistance given by Japan's government also have contributed to strengthening the democracy of Mongolia, forming the social-economic new system and a basis of modern development, "and the government and people of Mongolia always thankful for it to Japan," Mr Enkhbold said. The JICA played a main role in realizing activities with the aid and loans from Japan, he said.

The Speaker also thanked the JICA for implementing a four-phase project on constructing annexes of school buildings with the non-refundable aid of developmental official aid, as well as a project on creating a Mongolia-Japan joint training hospital.

Mr Tanaka underlined an importance of establishment of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) that will boost the bilateral economic ties, and said the JICA wants to deepen the relations with Mongolia. He said he will make all efforts to realize works proposed by the Speaker.

Present at the meeting were members of Mongolia-Japan inter-parliamentary group; S.Khurelbaatar, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Japan; A.Gansukh, an advisor to the Speaker; and others.

Link to article

 

Photo News: Mongolia Speaker's Visit to Japan Continues

February 27 (infomongolia.com) Upon an invitation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan Mr. Nobutaka Machimura, Mongolian delegates led by the Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD are paying an official visit to Japan until February 27, 2015.

On February 26, Speaker Z.Enkhbold and his accompanying officials got acquainted with activities of several entities seeking collaboration issues and have met with officials representing some companies and organizations.

The first visit was meeting the delegates of Chiba University Association for Research in Sustainable Science headed by Professor Tokoki Kozai, President of the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University.

Parliament Speaker further visited the Toyota Show Room familiarizing with "Mirai", unveiled in November 2014, one of the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to be sold commercially very soon as well as held meetings with Meeting with representatives of Mongolia-Japan Friendship Associations, Mitsubishi Group Senior Vice President Kanji Nishiura and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.

Link to article

 

Mongolia wants free trade with Korea

March 1 (The Korea Times) Mongolian Ambassador Baasanjav Ganbold expressed hope that negotiators from his country can sit down with Korean representatives soon to begin talks for a free trade agreement.

The proposal came amid Asian country's attempts to diversify its trade relations with countries other than its two key partners — China and Russia — as a counterbalance.

If the trade pact is signed, Korea will be the second country to have such a pact with Mongolia, following Japan.

"As Mongolian ambassador to Korea, I hope that the two countries can sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as we signed it with Japan earlier this year," Ambassador Ganbold told The Korea Times at the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) in Seoul on Feb. 25.

"Compared with other countries, for example China, I believe Koreans have no reason to be concerned about the pact with Mongolia because the two economies are complimentary."

Korean farmers fear that the Korea-China free trade agreement, which the two sides concluded last year, would drive them out of business once it goes into effect.

Ganbold was optimistic about EPA negotiations sooner or later, saying that the Korean government responded positively to his offer to start talks to discuss the pact.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsalchia signed the EPA in January, after the two countries began talks in 2012.

The Japanese parliament is expected to ratify the pact soon as there are no outstanding issues that concern the Japanese people. Once this is done, the pact may go into effect within this year, according to experts.

Mongolia has striven to diversify its diplomatic and economic relations with a variety of countries. Such an effort is seen as the country's balancing act to reduce its heavy reliance on its two neighbors­— China and Russia.

"I think that the EPA, if effective, will make it easier for Korean investors to do business in resource-rich Mongolia," Ganbold said. "On the Mongolian side, we need advanced technology from South Korea to develop our mineral resources and achieve economic growth with fewer emissions."

He made the remarks on the sidelines of the Korea-Mongolia investment forum organized by the Mongolian Embassy in collaboration with the KOTRA.

The two sides organized the event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Economic slowdown 

More than 200 Koreans, mostly small-business owners and those who plan to invest in Mongolia, attended the forum and asked questions to the Mongolian ambassador regarding the country's business environment.

Ganbold mentioned about a set of measures his government has introduced in recent years, including tax benefits and measures to improve transparency in business practices there, to attract foreign investors.

Some investors presented worries about a slowdown in growth of the Mongolian economy in recent years.

Mongolia had achieved double-digit economic growth in the past decade. In 2011, it achieved 17 percent economic growth, compared with a year ago. But the rate has more than halved last year with a 7.5 percent of growth rate.

Ambassador Ganbold said the falling growth rate was the result of falling global demand for natural resources, his country's main export item, and economic slowdown of China.

He admitted domestic policy failure was also partly responsible for the falling growth rate.

Lee Jae-young, executive director of the Russian and CIS Europe Team at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy in Seoul, was optimistic about the Mongolian economy.

He mentioned about the dramatic rebound of the Russian economy in 1999, a year after the country defaulted on its debt following the financial crisis.

"In 1998, many foreign companies, including Japanese businesses, pulled their businesses from Russia following the Ruble crisis. Korean conglomerates such as Samsung and LG didn't respond quickly to the crisis because executives of those companies hesitated whether they should pull their companies from Russia or not and as a result kept operating there," he said.

"The Russian economy rebounded and achieved economic growth a year later. In the 2000s, it achieved 7 percent average growth. This benefitted the Korean companies based in Russia because demand for their products soared and every Russian loved them."

Lee's remarks indicated to some people that the Mongolian economy will grow faster again as it has implemented a set of reform measures to attract more foreign investment.

Link to article

 

S.Korean Military Attaché Awarded Mongolia Defense Medal

Ulaanbaatar, February 27 (MONTSAME) Brigadier-General Moon Yong Seok, the Defense attaché of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to China, visited Mongolia on February 24.

He was received at the Ministry of defense by the State Secretary of Defense the Lieutenant-General Z.Boldbaatar. The latter noted that the relations between Mongolia and South Korea have been expanding in every sphere, and noted that the defense relations are of great importance in the development of further ties.

The sides discussed the ways of expanding traditional form of their relations, for example in the defense industry. Here Mr Boldbaatar expressed an interest in increasing a number of Mongolia military personnel to study in defense academies of the Republic of Korea and in intensifying the partnership between the training centers for peace-promoting operations.

The attaché Brigadier-General Moon Yong Seok was awarded the "For the Defense Cooperation" medal in honor of his contribution to the development of the defense relations. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia and Kazakhstan to Sign Prisoner Transfer Agreement

February 27 (infomongolia.com) The regular Cabinet meeting was held on February 25, 2015, where one of the issues resolved was to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons with Kazakhstan.

At the meeting it was backed to authorize signing the "Agreement between Mongolia and the Republic of Kazakhstan on transfer of sentenced persons" and after consultation by a relevant Standing Committee of the Parliament, a Resolution by the Prime Minister will be issued to authorize an official representing the Government of Mongolia.

Currently, about 1,000 nationals of Mongolia are residing with permanent residencies and over 6,000 citizens of Mongolia visit the country per year. Also, 3 citizens of Mongolia have been sentenced in Kazakhstan and as soon as the Intergovernmental Agreement goes into effect, two nationals of Mongolia, who requested to continue their period of imprisonment in their home country, will be considered in accordance with law.

Mongolia and the Republic of Kazakhstan have established the diplomatic relations on January 22, 1992.

Link to article

Related:

Agreement for prisoner exchange with Kazakhstan to be establishednews.mn, February 27

 

Mongolia Cabinet Backs Cooperation Agreement with Brazil on Education

February 27 (infomongolia.com) The "Intergovernmental Agreement between Mongolia and the Federative Republic of Brazil on Cooperation in Educational Sector" was supported to sign at the Cabinet meeting held on February 25, 2015.

According to decision, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Federative Republic of Brazil, Mrs. Chuluunbat SOSORMAA is authorized to sign the Agreement.

Mongolia and the Federative Republic of Brazil have established the diplomatic relations on June 19, 1987. Mongolia opened its Embassy in Brasilia in June 2014.

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Mongolia, Turkmenistan Diplomatic, Official Passport Holders to Travel Visa-Free

February 27 (infomongolia.com) The "Intergovernmental Agreement between Mongolia and Turkmenistan on reciprocal visa-free travel for holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports" was supported at the Cabinet meeting held on February 25, 2015.

Accordingly, the document will be signed after issuing Prime Minister's Resolution to authorize an official representing the Government of Mongolia.

Mongolia and Turkmenistan have established the diplomatic relations on April 23, 1992.

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Social, Environmental & Other

Ecological gold from Mongolia: Artisanal miners obtain Fairmined Certification

February 25 (The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM)) For the first time ever an artisanal and small-scale mining organization outside of South America has reached Fairmined Certification. The Mongolian NGO XAMODX now joins the existing three Fairmined certified organizations. They are the only producer of Fairmined Ecological Gold, a special Fairmined label for Fairmined Gold produced without the use of mercury or cyanide.

"It is a big honour for us as miners to get Fairmined Certification for the first time in Mongolia. When we heard the news, we were all so excited. All of us worked very hard to meet the requirements of the Fairmined Standard during the last 2-3 years." Said Mr. Ch. Otgonbaatar, head of XAMODX.

The story of how the mining community came to be, begins back in 2006 when difficult conditions led herding communities to search for alternative livelihoods to survive the "dzuds" – extremely hard and cold winters that raged for consecutive years killing large herds of livestock. This situation, right in the aftermath of Mongolia's economic transition when unemployment was on a rise, made the herding community move to an abandoned mine site called Tsagaan tsakhir in the Bayan-Ovoo Soum territory. It is there they began to focus their activities on mining – their only available alternative to herding. Since then the miners have worked hard to make mining a sustainable livelihood and now, less than ten years later, they claim the title as the world's only organization with Fairmined Ecological Certification.

It is thanks to the support of the Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) Project of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation in Mongolia that XAMODX is now one of four certified Fairmined organizations in the world and the first of its kind in Mongolia. The SAM project's goal is the increased formalization of Mongolia's artisanal mining sector while strengthening their social and environmental responsibility, formalization of ASM supply chains for sustainable livelihoods and tangible contribution to local and national economic development. On their way to certification, the SAM project supported XAMODX with organizational capacity strengthening, safety and environmental training and mining site management.

The community that is made up of around 2000 people mainly depends on mining, though a minority still relies on livestock and other small businesses and workshops. Women miners participate actively in the leadership of XAMODX which was formally established as a mining organization in 2009 with the main goal of protecting rights and improve livelihoods of legal miners. Now, as a Fairmined certified organization, XAMODX will be able to export to ethical markets at a fair price and make further important improvements to their mining organization and to the community.
Fairmined Certification was created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a non-profit organization globally recognized as a leader and pioneer of responsible artisanal and small-scale mining. Fairmined Gold means assurance for miners, the industry and consumers. The gold can be traced from mine to market. By buying Fairmined gold, businesses and individuals contribute to positive change through social development and environmental management in mining communities like XAMODX, giving everyone a source of gold to be proud of.

"It is a very big opportunity for local artisanal and small-scale miners to get Fairmined certified and to be increasingly known in Mongolia as well as in other countries. This will show how Mongolia's responsible artisanal miners work as independent organizations according to the laws and regulations in the country. We will share all our experiences with other mining organizations in the country as well as in Asia" Says Mr. L. Byambadorj, member of XAMODX mining community.

"I want to congratulate XAMODX and the SAM project on this incredible achievement that represents a new milestone in the industry. We are honored that the SAM project and other allies recognize Fairmined Certification as the number one tool to transform artisanal and small-scale mining and join us in expanding the benefits of Fairmined to more miners." Said Lina Villa, Executive Director of the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

For more information on Fairmined and how to source gold from XAMODX please visit www.fairmined.org or send an email to info@fairmined.org.

Link to release

 

Artist N.Erdenebayar wins Grand Prix at International Manga Awards

February 27 (gogo.mn) The International Manga Award is annually hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to honor Manga artists who have contributed to the promotion of Manga overseas.

This year, 317 entries from 46 countries had competed in the International Manga Award and Mongolian artist N.Erdenebayar won Grand Prix by his comic titled "Bumbardai". 

Currently, "Bumbardai" comic which aims to make understand the importance of protecting traditional Mongolian nomadic culture and disseminate cultural heritages to teenagers, was published its ninth series. Further, it is scheduled to publish 108 volumes. 

N.Erdenebayar had been working as Manga artist since 2014 and he published over 100 comic and mangas for ten years.

Link to article

 

Mongolian Team to Participate in World Skills Sao Paulo 2015

February 27 (infomongolia.com) Held every two years, the World Skills International Competition is the world's largest professional education event. Competitors from over 60 countries and regions in the Americas, Europe, Asia, South Pacific and Africa simulate challenges of professions that must be met within international standards of quality.

This year's 43rd edition will be taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil on August 11-16, 2015 and at the Cabinet meeting held last Wednesday (Feb. 25), Minister of Labor S.Chinzorig introduced on preparation of Mongolian Team to participate in 9 skills including Bricklaying, Wall and Floor Tiling, Welding, CNC Turning, Electrical Installations, Carpentry, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy and Cooking.

Last year, the "Mongolia Skills 2014" was successfully organized in Ulaanbaatar and winners were granted to participate in the World Skills Sao Paulo 2015.

Link to article

 

Grand Master A.Enkhtuul lands a job at Asian Chess Federation

By B. Tungalag

February 26 (UB Post) The seventh Mongolian Grand Master of Chess A.Enkhtuul said that she will be working as coach and event organizer at the Asian Chess Federation.

A.Enkhtuul gave a brief interview about her new job at the Asian Chess Federation.

Congratulations on receiving a job offer at the Asian Chess Federation.

Thank you. The central office of the Asian Chess Federation is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I will leave for the United Arab Emirates in March. I couldn't say no to an offer from the Asian Chess Federation. I majored in business management but I will do my best for chess. I feel proud of myself because it is the first time that a Mongolian will work at the Asian Chess Federation by the invitation.

Did you overcome various difficulties to receive the invitation?

Yes. I overcame strict requirements on language, professional achievenment and international title in chess. I managed to meet all requirements. The contract is valid until January 1, 2016. I can speak English and Russian fluently. I also understand some Chinese.

What is your new job?

I will work as coach at the Asian Chess Federation. I will also work in competition organizing committees.

Will you compete in the Asian Chess Championship 2015?

Yes, I will. I will participate in all competitions, although I'm working at the Asian Chess Federation now.

Link to interview

 

MP Oyungerel Speaks at Asia-Pacific LGBTI Human Rights Dialogue Meeting

Convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the meeting is the first of its kind to bring together LGBTI activists, government and private sector representatives from over 30 countries

February 28 (Gay Star News) Some 200 participants from over 30 countries gathered for the three-day Regional Dialogue on LGBTI Human Rights and Health in Asia-Pacific at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok that concluded yesterday.

Speakers included Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Member of Parliament of Mongolia; Louise Wall, Member of Parliament of New Zealand; Tarana Halim, Member of Parliament of Bangladesh; law and human rights experts; community organization workers; as well as private sector representatives.

Participants reflected on advances achieved in recent years; persistent challenges LGBTI people experience in the areas of health, education, employment and social protection; and LGBTI rights advocacy, according to an UNDP press statement.

Karma, a community participant from the Kingdom of Bhutan, was quoted as saying in the statement, 'This dialogue presents a great opportunity not only for open discussion but for a country like Bhutan, it is ground breaking. Asian culture and society in general have a very traditional take on issues like this and the discussions we've had are exactly what we need.'

'Equal rights are not special rights. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights promised a world that is just and inclusive of all, including LGBTI people,' said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, in opening remarks via video from UN Headquarters in New York. 'At UNDP we are committed to reducing inequality and ending exclusion.'

The Dialogue was supported by the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV programme and the 'Being LGBT in Asia' initiative – the first regional UN initiative working directly on LGBTI rights and inclusion. 

Link to article

 

Voices of hope from Blue Sky

Children of Blue Sky Choir from Mongolia, comprising former street kids, have been given the gift of a brighter future.

March 1 (The Star Online) Minus their rosy pink cheeks and hazel-coloured eyes, the children of award-winning Blue Sky Choir from Mongolia can easily pass off as average Malaysian teens.

During their recent visit to Malaysia, the 11 children – aged between 11 and 19 – seemed at ease chatting among themselves while soaking in Kuala Lumpur's hot and humid climate, a far cry from the sub zero chills of their hometown, Ulan Bator.

Despite the warm smiles, their eyes speak a thousand words of their sad past. Prior to joining the choir, these children were street kids who sought shelter at railway buildings and Ulan Bator's busy streets. Some lived underground, beneath the streets where pipes carry hot steam to heat the city's buildings.

Left without basic education, financial assistance or family guidance, many have suffered from neglect, maltreatment and even abuse. Some have had to quit school to earn meagre salaries to support their families.

According to international child sponsorship non-governmental organisation Humanium, Ulan Bator is home to 45% of the country's population of 2.75 million. Unfortunately, at least 400,000 from this population constitutes street kids, some of whom have fallen prey to syndicates of organised crime, ending up victims of the child sex-trade and human trafficking.

But thanks to World Vision Mongolia's Child Development and Protection Programme, these children have been accorded a new lease of life.

Blue skies ahead

In 2004, World Vision Mongolia set up Light House Centre, a home and drop-in centre for street children in Ulan Bator. Since its inception, the home has provided shelter, education, healthcare and nutrition for more than 100 underprivileged kids. At the centre, the children are also encouraged to join Blue Sky Choir, which serves to teach them to empower themselves.

"Using music, the children learn how to hone their vocal skills and achieve a better understanding of themselves. Essentially, it's all about providing them with an opportunity to discover their potential," said World Vision Mongolia's national coordinator for Child Development and Protection Program, Oyunchimeg Duni, in an interview in Kuala Lumpur. Duni had accompanied the choir for a series of performances – organised by World Vision Malaysia – in Kuala Lumpur and Penang recently.

The choir's establishment has since seen 60 children train with it. They have also had the chance to showcase their talents across the globe in countries such as Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and India.

Their repertoire covers Mongolian folk songs, classics and modern favourites in various languages, including English, Mongolian, Italian and Spanish.

To unlock their vocal potential, two professional choir teachers guide the children in training sessions three times a week (three hours per session) and music camps during school holidays. While the sessions may be intensive, the kids have reaped the rewards of their labour.

The choir has four albums and garnered numerous awards in Mongolia and abroad. Its accolades include grand prize at the 2007 International Children's Choir festival in South Korea and first place at the 2007 International Morin Festival in Mongolia. The troupe added another feather to its cap as best band at the 2012 National Cultural Children's Festival in Mongolia.

While the recognition may have reinforced the children's belief that hard work is always rewarded, Duni revealed that the choir has harnessed their self-confidence and sense of trust.

"The greatest achievement is seeing positive developments in the children. They now understand the meaning of love, care and living as a family."

Dreams of a better future

Over 11 years, more than a hundred children have been part of the centre. Many have successfully graduated from high school or college and obtained jobs, too. Some have even settled down, leading contented family lives.

With World Vision Mongolia's assistance, these children can lead normal childhoods and grow up healthily, without having to worry about basic needs or a right to education.

First-year hotel management undergraduate Batbaatar, 19, was only 10 years old when he sought shelter at Light House.

"My parents divorced when I was five years old. Being very poor, I used to collect glass bottles and cans on the streets, in exchange for money to buy food for my mother and I. Things got worse when my stepfather started to hit us. I ran away from home and was later taken in by the Light House," recalled the Mongolia International University student, who couldn't read when he first joined the centre.

Given Batbaatar's background, his aspirations to reach out to other street kids is palpable.

"As a street child, I couldn't think of anything else except for ways to survive. Life was tough and I didn't know how to improve my situation. Since joining Light House and enrolling in the choir, I've been given so many opportunities in terms of healthcare, education and also the chance to travel the world for performances," said Batbaatar, who obtained a one-year scholarship in 2011 to study at Rangoira High School in Rangoira, New Zealand.

Mungunu may only be 12, but is already walking the talk when it comes to helping homeless kids. In 2011, the Blue Sky Choir member took a bold step to sing at a charity concert in his village, Nalaikh, in Ulan Bator, where all profits went to street children.

"I understand what it is like to live without food or a family. Through the concert, I met so many street kids and encouraged them to seek help," said Mungunu, whose mother had abandoned him and his two siblings in 2005. Since then, the three kids live at the centre.

World Vision international ambassador Marilee Pierce Dunker says the choir was established with the vision to enable every child to live life to the fullest.

"Through the choir, the children can discover and develop their talents and build their self-confidence. The greatest achievement in establishing The Blue Sky Choir is seeing children who were once fearful and alone in this world blossom under the love and care of our staff," said Dunker, daughter of World Vision founder Dr Robert Pierce, in an e-mail interview.

Given World Vision's objectives, there's hope for a brighter future for street kids.

For more details on World Vision's Child Sponsorship, The Gifts of Hope Catalogue or Emergency Relief initiatives, visit worldvision.com.my.

Link to article (includes video of the choir performing)

 

Soloist E.Amartuvshin selected among 20 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World finalists

Ulaanbaatar, February 26 (MONTSAME) Opera's top 20 international young stars were revealed on Tuesday as BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2015 finalists.

A State Honored Artists and soloist of the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet E.Amartuvshin has been selected as one of them.

These 20 were selected from almost 350 hopefuls, who were all wonderful singers - and each of them deserves a great future. They will compete in this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

Apart from the Mongolian singer, the finalists were selected from Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Armenia, Malta, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, the United States, Canada, Guatemala, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, South Korea.

Established in 1983 by BBC Wales, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World was devised to identify the classical singing stars of the future, and the ambition is to deliver the lucky break all artists need to get them launched on the road to success. Past winners include the very first winner Karita Mattila, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anja Harteros and the 2013 winner Jamie Barton.

The winner of the main prize will receive £15,000 and the Cardiff Trophy, while the Song Prize, awarded to the best singer of Lieder and art song, carries a £5,000 prize and trophy. The rounds for the Song Prize will take place in the state-of-the-art Dora Stoutzker concert hall at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, with all the singers eligible to take part.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is organized by BBC Wales in association with Welsh National Opera and supported by The City of Cardiff Council.

The Mongolian singer E.Amartuvshin was born in Sukhbaatar province and graduated from the State University of Arts and Culture in Ulaanbaatar. He has won several awards, including second prize and audience prize at the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition; joint first prize in Operalia 2012 and second prize and two special prizes at the International Singing Contest Francisco Viсas in 2013.

He is Principal Soloist of the State Academic Opera House of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar and was awarded Honored Artist of Mongolia at the age of 24.

Roles performed in Mongolia include Escamillo, Morales Carmen; Tonio Pagliacci; Amonasro Aida; Count di Luna Il trovatore; Iago Otello; Renato Un ballo in maschera; Sharples Madama Butterfly; Scarpia Tosca; Marcello La bohиme and the title roles Eugene Onegin, Aleko, Genghis Khan and Rigoletto. He has appeared internationally as Vedenetsky guest Sadko in Krasnoyarsk and as Count Monterone Rigoletto at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, both in 2012. Also, Amartuvshin has sung in gala concerts throughout the world, including Paris, Moscow, New York, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore. He is looking forward to performances in Switzerland and Kazakhstan as well as at home in Mongolia.

Link to article

Related:

A.Enkhbat was chosen as finalists at CardiffMontsame, February 26

E.Amartuvshin qualifies for final round of BBC singing competitionUB Post, February 26

 

State Drama Theatre March Program

February 27 (infomongolia.com) The State Academic Drama Theatre releases the 2015 March Program and welcoming the International Women's Day, which is celebrated on March 08 every year, the Theatre offers a gift with "The Open Couple" comedy/drama play.

"The Open Couple" written in 1983 by Dario Fo, an Italian actor-playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter and political campaigner, and recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature, is a romantic play and on Mongolian stage is produced by Ch.Naidandorj.

Drama Theatre 2015 March Program

"The Open Couple" comedy/drama play by Dario Fo, produced by Ch.Naidandorj

On March 01, 04, 05, 11, 12 at 09:00 pm

On March 06 at 06:00 pm & 09:00 pm

On March 07 & 08 at 04:00 pm & 09:00 pm

The "Lullaby" three-act drama play by N.Gankhuyag

On March 07 & 08 at 12:00 pm

"The Son of the Sky" historical play by B.Tsognemekh, produced by N.Naranbaatar

On March 13, 14, 15 at 07:00 pm

The "Hamlet" play by William Shakespeare, produced by N.Naranbaatar

On March 22 at 05:00 pm

On March 24 at 07:00 pm

"Notre Dame de Paris" musical drama play by Victor Hugo, produced by N.Naranbaatar

On March 25, 26, 27 at 07:00 pm

"Oedipus the King" Athenian tragedy by Sophocles, produced by Ch.Tuvshin

On March 28 & 29 at 04:00 pm

Link to article

 

State Opera House March Program

February 27 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (SATOB) releases the 2015 March Program starting with "Carmen" opera by Georges Bizet.

The "Carmen" opera was first staged at the SATOB in 1984 and this time is choreographed by J.Burenbekh under general conductor of N.Tuulaikhuu.

SATOB 2015 March Program

"Giselle" ballet by A.Adam on Sunday, March 01 at 05:00 pm

"Carmen" opera by Georges Bizet on Saturday, March 07 at 05:00 pm

"To the Angelic Lady" gala concert by opera singers on Sunday, March 08 at 05:00 pm

"The Drifting Clouds of Fate" opera by Ts.Natsagdorj on Saturday, March 14 at 05:00 pm

"The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" ballet by Boris Asafyev on Sunday, March 15 at 05:00 pm

"The Troubadour" (El Trovador) opera by Giuseppe Verdi on Saturday, March 21 at 05:00 pm

"Choijid Tara" Ballet by E.Choidog on Sunday, March 22 at 05:00 pm

"The Ballet Evening" dedicated to the International Day of Ballet on Friday, March 27 at 07:00 pm

"Madama Butterfly" (Cio-Cio San) opera by Giacomo Puccini on Saturday, March 28 at 05:00 pm

"The Endless" tango-ballet by Kh.Altangerel on Sunday, March 29 at 05:00 pm

Link to article

 

A.Ganbaatar Elected President of Mongolian Football Federation Following FIFA Sanction of Predecessor

February 27 (infomongolia.com) The regular IV Congress of Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) was held today at the "Corporate" Hotel & Convention Centre in Ulaanbaatar on February 27, 2015.

At the meeting, 52 representatives from 21 Aimags, Districts of Ulaanbaatar, Sports Committees and Clubs were present and the main discussion was to elect the President of the MFF, which has been discussed since 2014, after dismissing ex-President B.Ganbold, who was found guilty for violations some Articles of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

Earlier, six candidates have nominated their names, but some withdrew their candidatures and only two figures left for the post of new MFF President, who are - Mr. Amgalanbaatar GANBAATAR, Advisor to the President of Mongolia and Mr. Balbar MEDREE, CEO of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia.

At the voting for the President of Mongolian Football Federation, 29 votes out of 52 were given to the first candidate A.Ganbaatar, and 22 to B.Medree, whereas 1 was counted as invalid. Consequently, A.Ganbaatar becomes the MFF President by majority votes promoted by "Arvis" Club.

Moreover, members have also elected the MFF Vice President, where competing candidates Mr. G.Gankhuu has collected 7 votes, Mr. B.Buman-Uchral - 22, and Mr. P.Bold 23 votes respectively.

According to rule, each candidate should collect more than 50% of total votes, thus, members agreed to conduct a re-voting among the latter two candidatures, where 28 votes out of 52 were given to B.Buman-Uchral and 23 to P.Bold with 1 invalid count.

Bold BUMAN-UCHRAL was promoted by "Ulaanbaataryn Unaganuud" Club, who is an incumbent Director of MineSpec LLC.

Link to article

Related:

A. Ganbaatar elected as MFF presidentMontsame, February 27

A.Ganbaatar became President of Mongolian Football Associationgogo.mn, February 27

 

UNESCO certificates Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting as Intangible Cultural Heritage

February 27 (gogo.mn) Ceremony to certificate knuckle-bone shooting which is registered in Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was held and Chairperson of Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren awarded certificate to the Government of Mongolia. 

Intergovernmental Committee inscribed 50 new intangible cultural heritage in which Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting was included on November, 2014. 

Mongolian nominated knuckle-bone shooting was registered in Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during that session. 

Link to article

Related:

UNESCO certificate for shagai-shooting grantedMontsame, February 27

 

Archaeologists unearth lost fortress of Genghis Khan in western Mongolia

February 27 (The Asahi Shimbun) Japanese and Mongolian archaeologists said Feb. 26 that they have discovered the remains of a 13th-century military outpost established for Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) in southwestern Mongolia.

The joint research team said the discovery could be useful in learning about the Mongol Empire's strategy on western expansion and trade routes.

"We hope the discovery will be useful in ascertaining the history of the Mongolian Plateau between the 13th and 14th centuries," said team leader Koichi Matsuda, professor emeritus of Mongol Empire history at Osaka International University.

The researchers surveyed ruins about 880 kilometers west of Ulan Bator in 2001 and found that geographical features around them were similar to the landscape depicted in a travel book written by a medieval Chinese Taoism leader.

The researchers also unearthed pieces of Chinese ceramics dating to the 13th century. An aerial photograph taken in 2001 shows the remains of a fortress surrounded by a soil wall, measuring 200 meters by 200 meters.

Last summer, the archaeologists used carbon dating to determine the age of unearthed wood chips and animal bones found at the site. The analysis showed the wood pieces were from the 12th to 13th century, while the bones were estimated to date to the 14th century.

Based on the findings, the archaeologists concluded the items were from a castle that was used as a military base when Genghis Khan was leading the bloody invasion of countries in central Asia.

The fortress is said to have been commissioned by a close aide to Genghis Khan in 1212. Although researchers from various countries have pointed to multiple areas as the former site of the castle, the actual location of the facility had not been confirmed.

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