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Thursday, December 3, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Denison Receives US$1.25 Million in Initial Payments on Closing of the Sale of Mongolian Interests
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 1, 2015) - Denison Mines Corp. ("Denison" or the "Company") (TSX:DML)(NYSE MKT:DNN) is pleased to announce the receipt of US$1,250,000 in initial payments from Uranium Industry a.s. ("Uranium Industry"), of the Czech Republic, and the closing of the sale of its interest in the Gurvan Saihan joint venture ("GSJV"), pursuant to an amended and restated share purchase agreement (the "Agreement") entered into on November 25, 2015.
Under the terms of the Agreement, Denison received US$1,250,000 on or prior to Closing (as defined in the Agreement), and has rights to receive additional proceeds from the sale of up to US$12,000,000, for total consideration of US$13,250,000. The Agreement replaces the share purchase agreement entered into in July 2015 (the "Previous Agreement"), which did not close as anticipated. The Previous Agreement contemplated a less sizeable cash payment on closing (US$250,000) and a deferred payment of US$19,750,000, which was to be made only in the event that all the mining licences for each of the Hairhan, Haraat, Gurvan Saihan and Ulzit projects were granted to the GSJV on or before November 30, 2015.
David Cates, President & CEO of Denison, commented, "Completing the sale of Denison's GSJV interests to Uranium Industry represents a significant milestone for the Company - achieving its objective of selling non-core international assets as a form of non-dilutive financing to fund our core activities in the Athabasca Basin. The sale also speaks to our management team's commitment to the negotiations, over the last several months, by reaching an agreement that provides all stakeholders with the necessary incentive to ensure that Uranium Industry is successful in developing the uranium mining business in Mongolia."
Uranium Industry is based in the Czech Republic and has unique experience in the geology, mining and processing of uranium, and is the successor to a 75 year tradition of uranium mining and environmental remediation of uranium mines in the Czech Republic. Uranium Industry is currently focused on geologic prospecting, mining, and processing of uranium ore in foreign countries that have traditionally had ongoing relations with the Czech Republic. Uranium Industry is active in Mongolia and established the Mon Czech Uranium joint venture with Mon-Atom LLC on June 17, 2015.
MEC Agrees to Issue 33.3 Million Shares to Settle Contractor Debt
December 2, Mongolia Energy Corp. (HKEx:276) -- On 2 December 2015, after trading hours, the Company and the Subsidiary entered into the LDV Subscription Agreement and the RT Subscription Agreement with each of the Subscribers respectively. Pursuant to the Subscription Agreements, the Subscribers have conditionally agreed to subscribe for and the Company has conditionally agreed to allot and issue 33,298,239 Subscription Shares to them in total at the Subscription Price of HK$0.203 per Subscription Share.
The Subscription Shares represent (i) approximately 1.91% of the existing issued share capital of the Company as at the date of this announcement; and (ii) approximately 1.87% of the issued share capital of the Company as enlarged by the issue of the Subscription Shares (assuming there will be no change in the issued share capital of the Company between the date of the Subscription Agreements and Completion save for the issue of the Subscription Shares).
The aggregate Subscription Price for all the Subscription Shares in the sum of HK$6,759,542.72 is equivalent to the approximate amount of the Debts, i.e. US$872,199.06, being the outstanding contractual amount due and owing by the Subsidiary to the Subscribers under their respective contracts relating to mining services and the Khushuut Road maintenance works rendered by the Subscribers to the Subsidiary. The Subscription Price shall be used to repay and settle the Debts. The Subscription Shares will be allotted and issued pursuant to the General Mandate.
SouthGobi Issues 11.96 Million Shares to CIC as Interest Payment on Debenture
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 30, 2015) - China Investment Corporation issues the following press release in accordance with Canadian Securities Administrators' National Investment 62-103:
1. Name and address of the offeror
China Investment Corporation, by its indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary Land Breeze II S.à r.l. ("LB")
c/o China Investment Corporation
16F-19F, New Poly Plaza
No. 1 Chaoyangmen Beidajie
2. The designation and number or principal amount of securities and the offeror's securityholding percentage in the class of securities of which the offeror acquired ownership or control in the transaction or occurrence giving rise to the obligation to file the news release, and whether it was ownership or control that was acquired in those circumstances.
China Investment Corporation previously filed early warning reports in respect to a US$500 million convertible debenture (the "Debenture") LB purchased from SouthGobi Resources Ltd. ("SouthGobi"), in respect to the exercise on March 29, 2010 of SouthGobi's right to call for the conversion of up to US$250 million of the Debenture, in respect to the receiving of paid in kind interest on November 21, 2013, and in respect of the receiving of paid in kind interest on November 21, 2014. China Investment Corporation is a sovereign wealth fund of the People's Republic of China.
Pursuant to the Debenture, since March 29, 2010, LB has acquired ownership of 25,232,419 common shares of SouthGobi, which includes 13,274,681 common shares previously issued and reported upon, and 11,957,738 common shares issued on November 27, 2015 in each case, in satisfaction of the paid in kind component of the interest accrued on the Debenture.
3. The designation and number or principal amount of securities and the offeror's securityholding percentage in the class of securities immediately after the transaction or occurrence giving rise to the obligation to file a news release.
After giving effect to the issuances noted in item 2 above, LB owns and controls 49,875,030 common shares of SouthGobi representing approximately 19.36% of the issued and outstanding common shares of SouthGobi as of November 27, 2015. LB also continues to own US$250 million of principal amount under the Debenture which, if converted at the current conversion price of Cdn$8.88 (and the currency exchange rate of 0.7489) would represent approximately 37.6 million additional common shares. If the Debenture in the principal amount of US$250 million that remains outstanding after the issuances noted in item 2 above is fully converted into SouthGobi common shares at the current conversion price of Cdn$8.88 and the currency exchange rate of 0.7489 then, together with the actual common shares owned or controlled by LB as of the date hereof, LB would own or control a total of approximately 87.5 million common shares or approximately 29.62% of the common shares of SouthGobi.
Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. October 2015 Monthly Letter to Shareholders
Toronto, Ontario, December 2 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK – TSXV and MNGGF – USA), ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy announces the release of its October 2015 Shareholder Letter.
October 2015 Shareholder Letter
To the Shareholders of Mongolia Growth Group Ltd.,
In October 2015, MGG's core commercial property portfolio* experienced a same-store rental decline of 15.4% relative to October 2014 on properties owned 12 months or longer, as measured in Mongolian Togrog (MNT). Total billed revenue for October 2015 was 239.2 million MNT, as compared to 251.1 million MNT in October of 2014 or a 4.7% decrease.** The occupancy rate for the core portfolio in October of 2015 was 85.1% including an occupancy rate of 81.7% for core retail properties and an occupancy rate of 89.9% for core office properties***.
Our rents in October would have shown a third consecutive monthly increase if not for the sudden departure of a large retail tenant who decided to exit the Mongolian retail market. Despite this decline in rent, other initiatives to increase rent are moving forward and we have recently signed a number of leases for space that previously did not have tenants. Following periods of discounted rent, we believe that these new tenants will add to our overall rental revenue.
As can be seen from our comparable numbers, overall rental rates in Mongolia are rapidly declining. Given the state of the economy, we consider ourselves to be fortunate that we are doing as well as we are and our team in Mongolia is doing an excellent job of rapidly re-leasing vacant properties and keeping our unpaid rent to a minimum.
Mongolian Economic Update
Since the most recent letter:
· Mongolia climbs 3 spots on World Bank's Doing Business Index 2016 to 56th (GoGo Mongolia)
· The World Economics Headline Sales Managers' Index (SMI) for November' reading stood at 34.1, down from 36.1 in October, signaling the sharpest deterioration in business conditions since March. The SMI has now been in contraction territory for the past twenty-one months, with the latest decline reflecting all five of its components. (World Economics)
· As of Oct 2015 the total cumulative trade turnover decreased by 21.9% (USD 1,990.0 millions) from that of the previous year andreached USD 7,090.0 million. The decrease in the trade turnover was mainly due to the decrease in imports by USD 1,311.0 million. (Bank of Mongolia)
· As of Oct 2015, the cumulative trade balance improved by USD 632.0 million from that of the previous year and reached USD 763.4 million. During the reporting period even though the total exports decreased by 14.7% from that of the previous year, imports decreased by 29.3% from that of the previous year, thus the trade balance improved by USD 632.0 million. (Bank of Mongolia)
· Mongolia Rapid-Bus System Set to Begin in 2017. Project to tackle pollution and gridlock in Ulaanbaatar. Asian Development Bank to provide $218 million in funding. (Bloomberg)
We look forward to updating you again on our progress and new developments in the Mongolian economy next month.
MSE Top 20 Declines Further from 5-Year Low
2 Dec 2015 (BDSec) Sharyn Gol (SHG) rose to MNT 3,997 gaining +2.12 %. On the other side, APU (APU) has dropped to MNT 3,379 loosing -9.48% to reach lowest point in 3 months on 1,541 shares traded today. Tavantolgoi (TTL) has fell by -4.00% to close at MNT 2,880 today to reach 2-year low. MSE Top-20 index has lost further -2.81% to 12,103.60 points to reach 5 year low as largest capitalization company APU stock falls by -9.48%, Tavantolgoi (TTL), Suu (SUU), SHV (Shivee Ovoo) has fallen by -4.00%, -1.42%, and -2.56% respectively.
15 companies' 3,674 shares with total value of MNT 8,356,219 were traded on the MSE. 1,612 pieces of ZGEB-BL-16/02/16-A0078-0 Government retail bonds totaling MNT 155,880,400 has been traded on the secondary market today making total trade for the day to MNT 164,245,619.52 weeks Government retail bonds with 14.676% annual yield will start trading from 02 December 2015 until 08 December 2015 through brokerage companies.
₮10 Billion 52-Week 14.676% Discounted T-Bills on Offer at MSE
December 2 (BoM) Buy order of 52 weeks Government retail bonds with annual interest of 14.676% starts from 02 December 2015 until 08 December 2015 through brokerage companies.
Click here to see detailed information of Government retail bonds.
Historic low ₮1,997.26/USD set September 11
BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, December 2 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM issues ₮153.1 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -6% to ₮707.6 billion
December 2 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 153.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mongolia's Jan.-Oct. Inbound FDI Falls 84% to $70.7m
December 2 (Bloomberg) -- Inbound foreign direct investment falls to $70.7m in Jan.-Oct. vs $430.2m yr earlier, according to data released by central bank Wednesday.
* Mongolia had $54.9m of FDI in Oct. vs withdrawal of $113.7m in Oct. 2014
* YTD current-account deficit at end-Oct. was $396.6m vs $1.48b deficit yr earlier, a 73% decline
₮10 Billion 5-Year Bond Auction Receives No Bids
December 2 (BoM) Auction for 5 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 10 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. The Government bond was not sold the due to absence of both competitive and noncompetitive bids.
₮10 Billion 52-Week 14.676% Discounted T-Bills Sold with ₮10 Billion Bids
December 2 (BoM) Auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 10.0 billion MNT. Face value of 10.0 billion /out of 10.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.676%.
Fitch Affirms Mongolia's XacBank at 'B'; Outlook Negative
Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-02 December 2015: Fitch Ratings has today affirmed the Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of Mongolia-based XacBank LLC at 'B' with Negative Outlook. The Viability Rating (VR) of XacBank has been affirmed at 'b'. The affirmation follows the downgrade of the Mongolian sovereign to 'B' from 'B+' on 24 November 2015.
A full list of rating actions is at the end of this commentary.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
IDRs AND VR
The affirmation of XacBank's IDRs and VR reflects the bank's tightened lending policies which led to a 7% loan contraction in the first 10 months of 2015. In addition it helped to contain loan deterioration under Mongolia's tougher operating conditions at a level in line with the current rating. The rating also reflects Fitch's expectation that the bank will maintain its strategic discipline as indicated by very low budgeted loans growth in the coming year even if the environment were to improve.
XacBank remains exposed to losses on its larger corporate loans stemming from its expansion strategy before 2014. The bank's overall portfolio composition has improved and is now more in line with that of similarly rated peers. The bank's foreign currency loans dropped to 16% of the total at end-October 2015 (end-June 2014: 30%) and mining-related exposure declined to below 5%. This compares with 24% and 9% respectively for the system and 14% and 3% for Khan Bank (B/Negative).
XacBank's capital remains acceptable at this rating level. Its Fitch Core Capital ratio increased to 11.8% from 9.0% in the first 10 months of 2015 driven by lower growth. More stringent risk management led to better reserve coverage and net-impaired loans to equity stood at a manageable 11% at end-October 2015.
XacBank maintains good access to bilateral funding, most of it in USD and swapped into local currency with the Bank of Mongolia. The swap costs should improve as some of the short-dated funds, which the bank converts into tugrik at the higher short-term rates, will be replaced with medium-term funds for which cheaper swap rates apply.
The Outlook remains Negative as XacBank remains exposed to losses on its larger corporate loans stemming from its expansion strategy before 2014. Fitch-adjusted impaired loans ratio increased to 6.8% at end-October 2015 from 3.7% at end-2014. In addition, the portfolio is more concentrated than peers' while XacBank's capital is weaker increasing the bank's sensitivity to a more material worsening of the operating environment.
SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR
The rating actions are as follows:
Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B'; Outlook Negative
Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B'
Long-Term Local-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B'; Outlook Negative
Viability Rating affirmed at 'b'
Support Rating affirmed at '5'
Support Rating Floor affirmed at 'B-'
President Elbegdorj's Bill on Political Parties Looks to Clean House
December 2 (news.mn) On December 1st, the draft "Law on Political Parties", which was initiated and presented to Parliament by President Ts.Elbegdorj was discussed at the "Civil Hall". The law project includes changes such as making political parties into parties with policy. For example:
-Political party must have a policy illustrating institute.
-Political party must have a human resource preparation center
-Political party must have a structure, which can implement the action plan via the polity
Also, if parties accept financial gifts from the members for a candidate, these gifts will be counted as state property, and state financing for the parties will be subsequently reduced.
Conditions for terminating the existence of political parties:
- If the party acts in an anti-constitutional manner
- If the party does not participate in an election (at any level) for 6 years
- If the party repeatedly and deliberately submit false financial reports.
The new political can be established, if it has at least 31 members; to participate in an election it must have at least 3001 members.
Discussion runs on new bill on Political Parties – Montsame, December 2
Standing Committee Accepts President's Veto on Establishing Primary Courts in Every Soum, District
December 2 (news.mn) The President of Mongolia, Ts.Elbegdorj, has put a veto on Parliamentary Resolution 94. This aims to establish a primary court in every district (soum), and a court of appeal in every province (aimag), before 1st April 2016. Under this resolution, about 100 judges would need to be hired. A reason for the veto is that the considerable financial and organizational burden could represent a real risk to the normal operations of the present Mongolian court system. Implementation of these changes and securing the additional financing from the 2016 State Budget of 2016 would make the fulfillment of Resolution 94 very difficult in the short term.
The Judicial Standing Committee discussed the presidential veto on 1st December, which they accepted with a 64% vote majority. In according with legal procedure, the veto must be discussed by the Parliament in two weeks from being issued.
Families of Deceased Pensioners Deserve Fairness
December 2 (UB Post) The Parliament will be discussing a draft law on joint pensions soon. If approved, the draft law will enable the spouse of a pension holder to receive the remainder of a deceased spouse's pension after the pensioner's death. The law was part of the Democratic Party's election promise in 2012.
The draft law, however, will bring about many problems. If it is approved as it is in the draft, it will be effective from January 1, 2017, but the pensions of those who've died since 2012 will have to be transferred to their family members. The state budget will need to allocate an additional 14 to 15 billion MNT to finance the remaining pensions of these pension holders.
The current law obliges laborers to pay social insurance fees, to be paid back in the form of pensions after retirement. Some pension holders die before they are able to receive the full amount they've paid to the Social Insurance Fund, which leaves their family in a difficult situation.
Many countries have devised their laws to address this issue. For instance, Chile has laws that enable the spouse, children, and other family members of pension holders to receive the pension of a deceased account holder.
A similar arrangement can be made through the draft joint pension law, but with notable differences. The law will enable those who have been together for more than 15 years to establish a joint pension account, and after the death of a joint pension holder, their partner or spouse can withdraw the remaining pension. The makers of the bill said they are putting in some conditions to prevent fraud.
This includes a clause that states that joint pension holders must have paid social insurance fees for 20 years consecutively. Some experts have said that the legal specification that states only the spouse can withdraw the pension can present opportunities for fraud.
The key difference between the Chile pension provision and the Mongolian draft joint pension is that the latter doesn't allow the offspring of a deceased pension holder to receive the remaining pension. This fact has been receiving a lot of criticism from the public. The public believes that if the state of Mongolia truly wishes to help out the nation and be fair, it will allow the offspring, spouse, and other family members of deceased pension holders to receive their benefits. Some believe that such a provision will also help increase the number of laborers who pay social insurance, and this, in turn, would allow the Social Insurance Fund to finance the pension payments of the deceased and further expand its cash flow.
The Social Insurance Fund is in need of reform. The only way the fund makes money is by placing its finances in commercial banks with a current annual interest rate of 10.7 percent. The irregularity of its operations and a lack of oversight are thought to have caused recent controversies concerning pension fraud. The issues of the Social Insurance Fund have to be addressed immediately to provide financial security for the hard working wealth makers of the nation by giving them the option to transfer their pension in the event of their death.
Mongolia has a population of three million, and around 312,000 receive pensions. The financial security of a pensioner's family has to be addressed. The option to transfer pensions will provide a safety net for those in need.
Election promise or not, such laws and measures are necessary and fair for those who put aside money from their income to ensure financial security in old age. Parliament needs to approve a law that allows pension transference in the event of the death of the pension holder.
Such a law cannot say that a spouse or family member of a deceased pension holder cannot receive their money because they haven't been together for 15 years. The whole point of social insurance is to provide financial security, which is not guaranteed for the family of a deceased pension holder.
The fair distribution of the money a person has put into the Social Insurance Fund will also prevent pension fraud by officials and employees of the fund. The state needs to ensure the financial security of hard working laborers in old age by granting them and their families the things that rightfully belong to them.
Committee on Empowering Self-Governance in Local Governments Discusses 2015-2016 Plans
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) Head of the parliamentary Standing committee on state structure A.Bakei and a secretary-general of the Parliamentary Office B.Boldbaatar addressed the 6th meeting of the steering committee of the "Empowering self-governance bodies of localities" on Tuesday.
The meeting considered the project's works of 2015 and the next year's works. The project, co-implemented by the Parliamentary Office, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the UNDP, aims to create a mechanism that works out a national training programme for localities' electoral officials, to improve the civil role at the decision-making level, to promote monitoring responsibility of the local councils, to boost a cooperation of the Citizens' Representative Khurals, and to improve a legal environment for the local self-governance bodies by formulating a mechanism of exchanging knowledge and information.
In frames of the project, some concrete works have been done to introduce good experiences in the national training system and in the Citizens' Representative Khurals, to ensure collaboration of the councils, and to create a website /khural.mn/ which gives knowledge and information. In addition, leadership training has been held for authorities of aimags and soums.
At the meeting, the Parliamentary Office head and a national director of the project Boldbaatar said the project's first phase will be concluded on December 31 of 2016, the second phase will continue in 2016-2020, and a formulation of relevant documents for the second phase will be made in the first half of 2016.
UNDP plans major programme in Mongolia on environmental governance
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) Chairman of Mongolia's National Commission for Human Rights (MNCHR) J.Byambadorj Tuesday received Bill Bikales, a chief advisor to the UNDP, Pele Lutken, a UNDP expert on policy affairs, and G.Uyanga, a programme expert.
The visitors said their organization intends to realize a big programme within Mongolia's environment governance. Activities will run in three directions--legal governance, gender and human rights.
Mr Byambadorj noted that the MNCHR successfully implemented a three-year project together with the UNDP on strengthening the national capability of monitoring human rights fulfillment, and expressed a willingness to continue the collaboration with the UNDP.
Then, the sides shared views on a present situation of the Mongolian mining and caused by it violation of human rights, on roles of the government, local authorities and citizens in the mining development, and future works.
Justice for Sumbee Tumursukh: Letter to Mongolian Government from Conservation Community
Dear Sir or Madam,
The individuals who have signed this letter are active environmental research scientists, educators and conservationists working in Mongolia with Mongolian scientists and involved in the educational training of Mongolian university students and conservation practitioners. We are all very much involved in helping to understand and assist in the protection of Mongolia's environment, and have been very impressed with the country's goals of environmental protection.
We have recently learned of the death of a conservation ranger Lkhagvasumberel (Sumbee) Tumursukh, who worked with the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation, a partner of the international Snow Leopard Trust, an individual who many of us knew to be a highly conscientious and effective individual enforcing the laws and guidelines for protected areas of Mongolia. We have been told that Sumbee's body was found in Lake Hövsgöl where many of us carry on research and that his death was likely to be ruled a suicide by drowning. We find it very difficult to understand Sumbee's death as a suicide. He was a young (27 years old), very energetic individual who was very enthusiastic about his work, and highly respected for his efforts. He was also planning to study in England in January.
Our concern emanates from the knowledge that Sumbee had been attacked on at least three occasions during the past two years by individuals who were very alarmed over what we suspect to be Sumbee's attempt to enforce laws related to protecting specific areas and threatened and endangered species. Sumbee apparently had been warned by these individuals to leave the Gobi and not to return. When he continued his work in the Gobi, he was assaulted and stabbed with a knife but managed to escape his captors.
Without a thorough investigation and transparent reporting, we believe that Sumbee's death will become an issue in future perceptions of security for people working or intending to work in conservation biology in Mongolia. These include individuals protecting and conducting research and Mongolian and International funders associated with research and conservation programs at Lake Hövsgöl or in the Gobi or elsewhere. Ultimately this could harm the growth of domestic and international tourism in Mongolia. We implore you to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding Sumbee's death so that the truthful and complete story can be shared with all concerned.
The list below of international scientists support the concerns voiced in this letter. We would greatly appreciate learning how you think this investigation can progress.
Respectfully signed by
Members of the International Scientific and Conservation Community working in Mongolia:
Goulden, Clyde E.
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, USA
University of Pennsylvania
University of Nevada
Cook, Joseph A.
University of New Mexico
Gelhaus, Jon K.
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, USA
West Virginia University
Wayne State College
University of Nevada, Reno
University of Minnesota - Duluth
Arizona State University
Lauenroth, William K.
University of Wyoming
University of Pennsylvania
University of Arizona
Montana State University
University of Minnesota - Duluth
University of Maine at Presque Isle
Ball State University
Williams, Stephen E.
University of Wyoming
Brigham Young University
Colorado State University
Colorado State University
University of Michigan
Paltsyn, Mikhail Yurievich
University of Bayreut
Panthera, New York, New York, United States of America
Wildlife Conservation Society
Association Goviin Khulan
Farrington, John D.
Snow Leopard Trust
Richard D. Kortum
East Tennessee State University
Snow Leopard Conservancy
Koustubh Sharma, PhD
Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program
Institute of Botany, Academy of Science, Czech Republic
Parliament Agenda for Dec 2: Standing Committee Meetings
December 2 (gogo.mn) Standing Committee meeting is scheduled for today.
1. State Structure Standing Committee meeting at 09AM.
- Amendments to draft law on holding the national referendum
- Draft law on charging responsibility to elected and appointed state authorities
- Amendments to draft law on Celebrating Public Festivals and Memorable Days
2. Budget Standing Committee meeting at 09AM.
- Amendments to draft law on custom
- Amendments to draft law on custom tariff and custom tax
- Draft resolution of State Great Hural on some measures related to the approval of 2016 Mongolian State Budget
- Amendments to draft law on value added tax
- Amendments to law on special tax, amendments to law on stamp duty, draft resolution of State Great Hural on approval of tax rate on imported goods
- Draft law on legislation of General Department of Custom and Taxation
- Amendments to draft law on budget, amendments to law on state audit, compliance procedure of law on accounting, compliance procedure of law on audit
3. Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee meeting at 02PM.
- Working group's proposal and conclusion on military weaponry, technical preservation and its protection
Mogi: hope this isn't affecting their JV with Engie,
POSCO Pulls Out of CTL Joint Venture with MCS, Closes Mongolia Office
POSCO E&C Wins 1 Trillion Won Power Project in Philippines
December 2 (Business Korea) POSCO Engineering & Construction Co. (POSCO E&C) has won a 1 trillion won (US$900 million) power project in the Philippines.
Also, the company decided to pull out of Mongolian coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant business, which the company had pushed ahead from 2010, and closed down its office in Mongolia, dissolving its subsidiary in the local market. This is because the business value of alternative energy went down due to prolonged low oil prices. POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-joon has the will to close down non-core overseas businesses in order to focus on its main steel business.
Erdenes TT is ₮370 billion in debt to DBM
December 2 (gogo.mn) Political parties have not agreed with the auditory examination for Development Bank of Mongolia, and still have a dispute over the issue. Private entities owned by Several MPs received loans from DBM, which makes the dispute worse. Namely, MonRoad LLC founded by DP's fraction leader B.Garamgaibaatar received a large amount of loan from DBM. But Mr. B.Garamgaibaatar is member of working group in charge of carrying out auditing for DBM and refuses to agree with the result of the examination, which delays finalizing the matter. Meanwhile, L.Enkh-Amgalan is believed to have the conflict of interest because he leads the working group in charge of auditing.
In regards, other members of the working group are also believed to have the conflict of interest, according to a source. The reason is that Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC received the loan worth of MNT 370 billion. For instance, the working group's members MP G.Uyanga and MP Ch.Khurelbaatar own 5360 shares and 2144 shares respectively. Also, others MPs not included in the working group own shares such as A.Bakei -3752 shares, N.Batbayar – 1072 shares, L.Erdenechimeg – 536 shares, Ts.Nyamdorj – 2144 shares, B.Bat-Erdene 5360 shares, Ya.Sodbaatar 4288 shares, D.Sumyabazar – 2144 shares, D.Khayankhyarvaa – 5300 shares, and J.Enkhbayar – 1072 shares.
It can be said that numerous MPs received the loan indirectly from DBM. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC, which paid only MNT 4 billion as interests of the loan last year according to the glass account. Most importantly, the loan's spending, payment and dividends must be clarified and discussed. What is not clear is when the loan is going to be paid off.
Generally, every loan transaction related to DBM must be discussed and transparent. According to the working group in charge of auditing, 60% of total loans received DBM are going to be paid by the government, as the remaining 40% are to be solved by private entities that received loans.
ADB Loan to Help Expand SME Financing Through Credit Guarantees
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA, December 2 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $60.8 million loan and technical assistance grant to improve the country's credit guarantee system, which will help Mongolian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get more access to finance from commercial banks.
The assistance will be targeted at small businesses outside the mining sector—which accounts for 25% of the gross national product but makes Mongolia highly vulnerable to swings in global commodity prices.
"Despite representing over 90% of all registered businesses and providing about half of all jobs, SMEs still find it difficult to access credit in Mongolia, and this hampers their potential for growth," said Giacomo Giannetto, an ADB Senior Financial Sector Specialist. "The assistance will help SMEs access the necessary collateral to obtain loans through public and private credit guarantees."
The assistance aims to make more long-term financing available for SMEs by strengthening the Credit Guarantee Fund of Mongolia, which was established in November 2012 to support SMEs but has failed to realize its full potential due to internal factors—such as a lack of operational capacity and expertise—as well as external factors like limited awareness of the facility among SMEs.
Strengthening the Credit Guarantee Fund of Mongolia will allow it to support up to $432 million in loans to SME subprojects, helping participating financial institutions mitigate loan funding maturity mismatches by placing time deposits with them to fund a portion of their loans to SMEs, and the fund guaranteeing part of the credit risk.
The project will also contribute to establishing a local market for 5-year time deposits, building confidence in the safety of these financial instruments, and encouraging the private sector to mobilize savings for longer-maturity bank loans. The placement of time deposits will require participating financial institutions to use new guarantee products issued by the fund targeting women entrepreneurs, rural SMEs, and those that commit to creating non-mining sector jobs.
The $60 million loan comes from ADB's ordinary capital resources and will be complemented by $30 million in counterpart support provided by the Government of Mongolia and private sector participating financial institutions. The project will run for 5 years, with an expected completion date of March 2021.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.
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PM discusses air pollution problem during "Hour of Solutions"
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) At the weekly meeting "Hour of Solutions", the Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg received Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg and the deputy mayor in charge of ecology and green development of the UB city T.Bat-Erdene on December 2.
Mr Saikhanbileg reminded them that a goal has been set to widen the use of renewable or gas power sources and to intensify actions for providing convenient apartments for ger-area residents, in frames of the acts for reducing the air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.
He also said that a new discounted nighttime tariff regime launched this Monday for the ger area households, halving the electricity tariff between 21.00 and 06.00.
For the next year, MNT 5 billion has been budgeted for the Fund for Reducing Air Pollution.
Minister N.Battsereg informed him about meetings with the authorities of factories that produce low-emission fuels, namely Derst Tokhoi, Khar Tug, Bayalag Erdene Tsom and Khukh Chono Group, who have a total capacity of producing 145 thousand tons per year.
The government is intending to provide low-emission fuels for 10-12 thousand households in January and February, the peak season of air pollution. The action is estimated to cost MNT 2.8 billion. Additional 300-500 million Togrog of financing will be needed for providing fuels for kindergartens with low-emission stoves, he said. Proposals have been submitted to him, he added, seeking the discount on electric power tariff from Orkhon, Darkhan-Uul, Ovorkhangai, Khovsgol and Bayamkhongor aimags.
The deputy mayor T.Bat-Erdene suggested enabling the access of public heating for ger areas in order to reduce air pollution.
Ending the meeting, the PM directed them to prioritize promoting the proposals and initiatives from the khoroos and districts who have the worst air pollution, and to collaborate with governors of localities, who submitted discount requests.
Public Plea to Take Air Pollution Seriously
By M. Oyungerel
December 2 (UB Post) Although exposed to significant amounts of air pollution, the Mongolian public has neglected the idea of combating outside air pollution, let alone indoor air pollution.
After wearing a disposable air pollution mask for two weeks, I am completely disgusted, and scared of the processes that happen in my lungs. The white mask with valves that I purchased from Smart Air turned a dark shade of gray within two weeks.
According to a 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) study of air quality, Ulaanbaatar wasn't named one of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. With our omission from the list, and with information coming from state officials claiming a decrease in air pollution, the public has started to neglect the air pollution issue.
The WHO study uses the annual average of PM2.5 levels as a factor in rating air quality. PM2.5 is particulate matter in the air that measures up to 2.5 micrometers in size. It is a relatively newly identified pollutant that is also linked to causing climate change. PM2.5 is a combination of liquid and solid droplets that are mainly created from a reaction between the moisture in a chimney and the volatile organic compounds released when coal is burned. In other words, the ger districts are heavily polluted by PM2.5. The particulate matter enters the atmosphere through a chimney and contributes to outdoor air pollution, climate change, and increases indoor air pollution as well.
Mongolian air pollution is tightly linked with the seasons, as there is a dependence on the burning of coal in ger districts. When averaged with summer's PM2.5 levels, the annual average of Ulaanbaatar becomes lower than the cities named on the WHO's most polluted list.
The Mongolian officials are not lying about the decrease in air pollution. It's just that even after a 10 to 20 percent decrease in PM2.5 levels, UB's levels are still so much higher than what is considered healthy by the WHO. It considers PM2.5 levels that exceed 10 micrograms per cubic meter to be unhealthy. The PM2.5 levels in the winter of 2013 to 2014 reached 102 micrograms per cubic meter. It has decreased rapidly, compared to the 142 micrograms per cubic meter recorded in 2011. Even with the decreased levels, it's 10 times higher than what is considered healthy.
Recently, the government has made many poor decisions in the name of decreasing state expenditures. One of them was a decision to shut down the Clean Air Fund, the initiator of the Clean Stove Project and the sole state organization that targets air pollution as a problem.
The Minister of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism (MEGDT), N.Battsereg, has promised cleaner air this year, and talked about his plans to fight air pollution at the American Chamber of Commerce October Meeting in 2015. He should have done something when the state decided to cut budget allocations and shut down the Clean Air Fund, but he didn't.
The government has decided to take a different path for cleaner air. The Ministry of Energy has recently decided to cut electricity prices in half during the nighttime to increase the use of electricity as a source of heat in the ger districts. The initiative could be viable, as it targets the most massive source of air pollution, although it doesn't state how people will get heat from utilizing electricity.
Investments in the renewable energy sector and the construction of apartments in the ger districts are great ways to battle air pollution, but they're also plans that will happen in the long term. The current situation needs to be addressed, but without the projects run by the Clean Air Fund, air pollution is likely to get worse.
As we all know, air pollution is hazardous to our health. The human lungs grow until the age of 30 to 35, and actively grow from the age of zero to five. Exposure to high levels of air pollution can depreciate the growth capacity of lung and lead to disease. Pollutants put a strain on the nervous system and become a major risk factor for lung cancer and bronchitis, lowering the quality of Mongolian human capital.
What will it take for us to take air pollution seriously?
As humans, we only understand the value of things when we lose them. Is it necessary for Mongolia to be named the most air polluted city in the world, or to make lung cancer the leading cause of death in Mongolia to fully address the air pollution issues?
Oyuny Undraa Group to Launch Cable Car Project Next Spring
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) "Air-360 Ulaanbaatar Cable Car" project will commence next spring, has announced the Oyunii Undraa Group. Initial developments, connecting the National Culture and Amusement Park with Ikh Zaisan Complex, are estimated to cost some 40 billion Togrog.
Initial stage of the project will construct 2.8-km cable route with 100 cable cars with a capacity to transport 1,000 passengers per hour. In case the Government grants concession agreement in time, the first stage will begin in March of 2016 and complete in 2017, executed by Austrian and French companies. The second stage is also estimated to cost about 40 billion Togrog. It would connect the Ikh Zaisan Complex with the Bogdkhan Mountain. It has been planned to be commissioned by fall of 2018. The cable car ticket would cost MNT 2,000, said S.Amarsaikhan, the CEO of Oyunii Undraa Group.
The Group intends to commission its Ikh Zaisan Complex within the second quarter of 2016, before the start of ASEM Summit.
Academic discussion held on moving the capital to Kharkhorin
December 2 (news.mn) This year marks the 795th anniversary of the founding of Kharkhorum- the capital city of the Mongolian Empire, by Chinggis Khaan. Today, the former capital is known as Kharkhorin. In this connection an academic conference and exhibition entitled "Kharkhorum City" will take place on 4th December. The conference will be in two parts. The first will discuss the history, culture, archeological findings and protection of "Kharkhorum City"; the second part will discuss social and economic affairs and the development issues of the "Kharkhorin Soum". Specialists from Germany, Turkey, and Japan who have studied these issues will also participate in the conference. The specialists will discuss the possibilities to of moving the Mongolian capital to Kharkhorin Soum and to develop Kharkhorin into the foremost city of Mongolia.
Chinggis Square Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony to Be Held on December 15
December 2 (news.mn) The lightning ceremony of Mongolia's main Christmas tree will take place on Ulaanbaatar's Chinggis Square on 15th December. Also, the annual New Year celebration party on the same square is being planned for 31st December.
Ulaanbaatar City Mayor E.Bat-Uul has formed a "Celebrating New Year" working group (under Order A/926). Deputy Mayor, Ts.Enkhtsengel, who is responsible for the Social Development Affairs Office at the City Administration, has been appointed as the director of the program.
Briefing Held for Diplomatic Corps on ASEM 11 Preparations
December 2 (gogo.mn) A briefing on the status of the preparations for the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting was held with the representatives of ASEM member countries' diplomatic missions in Mongolia.
Head of diplomatic missions and relevant officials of 18 diplomatic missions from ASEM-member countries in Mongolia took part in the briefing meeting. The briefing was made by L. Orgil, Senior ASEM officer of the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Director of ASEM Mongolia Office and B. Bayasgalam Deputy Director of ASEM Mongolia Office, who also answered interested questions.
ASEM11 Summit is scheduled to be organized in Ulaanbaatar next year. A set of preparation work in anticipation of the ASEM Summit is being carried out, including the renovation and extension of the Chinggis Khaan International Airport, the work to improve the services and quality of the hotels that would be hosting the high guests and delegates to the Summit, as well as re-training hotel staffs for the Summit.
Foreign Ministry Holds Regular "Press Hour" Briefing
December 2 (MFA Mongolia) During the press conference, detail of President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhia's participation at the Leaders Event of the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France was informed.
During COP21, Mongolian President was handed in the inscription of Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape on the World Heritage List by Ms. Irini Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.
Furthermore, results of the Foreign Minister's working visit to Swiss Confederation on 25-27 November, 19th meeting of the Mongolia – Russia intergovernmental commission on trade, economy, science and technical cooperation were given.
Mongolia is to chair IDEA in 2016, in this regard chairmanship of IDEA was officially was given to PUREVSUREN Lundeg, Foreign Minister of Mongolia during his visit to Swiss Confederation.
Also information on preparation process of ASEM summit which will be held in July 2016 was informed. At the end of "Press Hour", questions raised by journalists on issues of Mongolian citizens living abroad, high level visit and ASEM preparation were answered.
Mongolia Foreign Minister Discusses Expanding Economic Ties with U.S. Ambassador
December 2 (MFA Mongolia) Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Mongolia Ms. Jennifer Z.Galt on December 1st, 2015.
During the meeting the sides expressed content on the development of bilateral ties and cooperation between Mongolia and the U.S. and agreed on working extensively on expanding trade, economic and investment ties.
Ambassador J.Galt expressed high admiration for Mongolia for successfully developing its democracy and becoming a role model for emerging democracies.
She also emphasized that her goal for her tenure will be to contribute and implement defined programs to prepare Mongolia's next generation of democratic leaders.
Furthermore, the sides exchanged views on multilateral cooperation and the activities of the International Cooperation Fund of Mongolia.
Mongolian soldier blazes trail for fellow females
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, November 25 (DVIDS) - Throughout the years, more than four dozen foreign soldiers have attended the SFC Christopher R. Brevard Noncommissioned Officer Academy. However this year, one graduate is the first of her kind.
"I am so thankful to the U.S. and Mongolian armies for allowing me to come here," said Sgt. Mungunchimeg Nyamaajav, the first female Mongolian soldier to come to Alaska and train with U.S. Army Alaska.
On average, the NCO academy hosts 12 international students per year. The last time Mongolian soldiers attended a course at the U.S. Army Alaska academy was 2007.
Nyamaajav, who was born in Bayankhongor City of the Bayankhongor province in Mongolia, said she has always had a desire to serve. Since joining at the age of 19, she has had a passion for seeing female soldiers succeed and 10 years later, that passion is still burning.
"My hope is that more female soldiers come here and learn," she said. "Though the terrain is the same here in Alaska, all of our experiences are different, and discussing those differences and learning from them makes us better."
Nyamaajav, who had to take and pass an English test in order to attend the courses, said her experiences here have built her confidence. With almost 17 percent of the Mongolian Armed Forces being female, that's what she hopes for all female soldiers.
"I want female soldiers to learn and to be strong," she said. "I want them to hope and dream."
While she loves being the one to push her fellow soldiers to be great, Nyamaajav credits her own loved ones with being her source of inspiration.
"My family is a big source of support for me," she said. "My 6-year-old son is in the first grade and is studying to read, and everything I do, I do because I want him to be proud of me."
Along with five other soldiers, Nyamaajav recently graduated from the Warrior Leadership Course and the Basic Leadership Course. As part of the courses she attended, Nyamaajav participated in various field exercises that sharpened her leadership skills and further developed her professional ethics.
The soldiers are now headed to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, where they will participate in various hands-on training opportunities.
Though this is her first trip to the United States, Nyamaajav said there is value in the partnership her country shares with the U.S.
"This partnership with the U.S. Army is so important," Nyamaajav said. "Because of it and the people I have met here, I am stronger and a better soldier, and I am so grateful."
President Awards Honorary Consul of Mongolia to Indonesia with Polar Star
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) By the Presidential decree, the "Polar Star" order has gone to Chandra Gozali, the Honorary Consul of Mongolia to Indonesia
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Indonesia Ms Sh.Battsetseg granted him the state prize during the "Present Mongolia" event on November 27 in Jakarta. "This is recognition of your contribution to broadening of the bilateral relations and cooperation and to propagandizing Mongolia in Indonesia," she said.
He has been the Mongolian Honorary Consul to Indonesia since 2009. Mr Gozali published a book about Mongolia in Indonesian language in 2010. He has organized photo exhibitions, concert and cultural events of Mongolia in Jakarta and Surabaya as well.
Mongolia, East Timor Ambassadors to Indonesia Discuss Boosting Ties
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Republic of Indonesia Ms Sh.Battsetseg held a meeting on Wednesday with Mr Manuel Serrano, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to Indonesia
Battsetseg said the two countries have been developing active cooperation within the multilateral ties since their diplomatic relations were established in 2003, and expressed a willingness of Mongolia to broaden the bilateral relations and cooperation.
In response, the Ambassador of East Timor Mr Serrano appreciated her proposals hoping she would present the diplomatic credentials to East Timor.
Turkish University Volunteers Teach School #61 Pupils Art Skills
December 2 (infomongolia.com) The Turkish voluntary organization "I am in Society", consisting of Turkish university students, worked in the Secondary school No.61 of Chingeltei district of Ulaanbaatar city between November 24 and December 01, 2015.
Turkish students taught lessons of invention, music, drawing, dance and making of short movies to Mongolian school pupils. The "I am in Society" voluntary organization implements projects to promote social activity of students of elementary and secondary schools in remote areas.
On December 02, volunteers and pupils of the school held a concert to introduce the results of the project. The Ambassador of Turkey to Mongolia, Mr. Murat Karagoz, Governor of Chingeltei District of Ulaanbaatar, Mr. D.Ganbold and parents of students were in attendance.
During the event, students of the school have showed what they have learned, showing their own short film and performing songs and dances they have learned. Mongolian pupils performed the Zeybek, famous Turkish folk dance, which shows the heroism and courage. It is a warrior's dance originated near Aegean Sea. At the end of concert, Director of the school, Ms. A.Munkhchimeg has expressed her gratitude to Ambassador Murat Karagoz, volunteers and representatives of Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).
After the concert, Governor of Chingeltei district held meeting with Ambassador Murat Karagoz and Turkish volunteers. Mr. D.Ganbold has thanked Ambassador Murat Karagoz for the support of Turkey to Mongolia and presented him the "Independence Cup", honorary award of Chingeltei district.
Mogi: confused about whether it's Inner Mongolian women of Mongolian women
Mongolia Women's Delegation Visits Shanghai
December 3 (Women of China) Ce Chaogezhuolema, president of Mongolian Social and Democratic Women's Alliance, along with other Mongolian delegates, recently paid a visit to Shanghai at the invitation of the All-China Women's Federation.
Xu Feng, president of Shanghai Women's Federation, held a banquet with the delegation group. Both sides had exchanges over topics including politics, economy and society with Xu Feng focusing on the themes of women's employment, participation in government and education, as well as women's work, social participation and self-realization in Shanghai. Li Rong, vice president of Shanghai Women's Federation also took part.
The delegation group also visited the Happy Home Studio on Beixinjing Street in Changning District, Shanghai, to learn about the women's federation's grassroots work in psychological counseling and how the center receives letters and carries out visiting work for the government, legal aid and mediation through the Happy Home platform, helping to practically safeguard the legal interests and rights of women and children.
The Mongolia Social and Democratic Women's Alliance was founded in 1994. It is a women's organization under the leadership of the Mongolian People's Party and focuses on promoting women to participate in the social and democratic construction of Mongolia, increasing the proportion of women partaking in decision-making, as well as improving women's professional skills, living standards and technical level.
ADB, Japan to Help Improve School Dormitories in Poor Western Region
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA, November 27 – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a grant of $3 million for a pilot project to make the dilapidated school dormitories of Mongolia's poor and sparsely populated western region fit for students.
The grant is from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan and administered by ADB.
"Chronically low levels of capital investment have left school dormitories, built during the 1970s and 1980s, run down and lacking safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and heating, and protection from rain and wind," said Asako Maruyama, an ADB Education Specialist. "By piloting models to improve the buildings and services offered by dormitories, this project will promote equal access to quality education, particularly for children from herder families."
The western region is poor—32.5% of the population in 2012 compared to the national average of 27.4%, with nomadic herders accounting for almost 42% of poor households. Mongolia's school dormitory system was developed to ensure wider access to education, particularly for students from herder families.
Besides dilapidated structures, dormitories have inadequate staffing to look after students' study, reading, or extracurricular activities. In addition, the dormitory teachers and guards who stay with students at night lack the skills needed to work and communicate with children. Parents in rural remote areas are often unwilling to send young children to schools because of the unfavorable school dormitory environment.
The project will improve the school dormitory environment in three aimags (districts) of the western region—Govi-Altai, Uvs, and Zavkhan—by incorporating elements responsive to gender, age, and special needs in the water, sanitation and hygiene facility design. Capacity building for dormitory staff, teachers, and school management will be provided, as well as a financing policy to upgrade the school dormitory system.
Of Mongolia's five regions, the western region has the largest number of students staying in dormitories and 86% of these students are from herder families. In 2012, the region had a primary completion rate of 86.1%, the lowest in Mongolia and well below the national average of 94.5%. Children in the region tend to start school later than the official school age of 6. A 2008 study found that students staying in dormitories have lower academic performances.
The project will draw on good practices in boarding school management in Japan and elsewhere to develop comprehensive standards and a national strategy to improve the school dormitory environment. A built-in evaluation system will assess the impacts of an improved school dormitory physical environment and services on student learning.
In Mongolia, ADB approved assistance totaling $218.8 million in 2014, including 4 sovereign loans of $168.5 million; nonsovereign loans of $40 million; and 15 technical assistance grants totaling $10.31 million.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.
Youth-friendly centers help unlock the potential of Mongolia's youth
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) Khovd aimag-based Youth Development Center (YDC) is bustling with young people. Many are here to socialize or take part in the centre's many programmes, or simply to use the free Internet service and computers. Others are here seeking support and advice.
It was published November 30 in the website of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). "Since the establishment of the YDC in our city, my friends and colleagues often hang out here because it's nearby our school and is a convenient place for us to productively spend our free time," said L.Mukhtsooj, 20, a regular client at the Khovd YDC.
"The staff here are also very welcoming to us".
There are 15 YDCs throughout Mongolia, and each provides youth with a range of programmes aimed at building their life skills, providing knowledge about their rights and responsibilities, and offering them meaningful ways to realize their potential. These multi-purpose centers also offer a range of skills-development services, such as career planning and healthy leisure activities.
"There are many clubs that bring together youth based on their interests and hobbies. We have clubs for amateur photographers and book lovers, and a girls' group with arts and fashion, to name but a few," said Enkhbayar, coordinator of the Khovd YDC.
The YDCs are fun, safe places for young people to spend their free time and develop their social skills. The centers also target marginalised youth and young families, providing them with life skills education and other trainings.
"We try to offer comprehensive and holistic services for our clients," said S. Khishigtogtokh, a social worker at the Khovd YDC. "There are support groups addressing vulnerable youth, such as youth in prisons or those with disabilities.
In assisting young families, Khishigtogtokh said: "We try our best to reach every family member, providing counselling for young people and young couples, supporting their children in their school enrolment, and addressing their health and livelihoods, jointly with other public services,"
Mr O. Battur, 28, a local auto mechanic, his wife Tsetsegjargal, 26, and their four children have benefited from the services offered by the Khovd YDC. The couple attended family and relationships workshops - the first such training in which they had taken part. "I learned a great deal about family relations and parenting," Battur said. "It's been an interesting training for a man like me who knew nothing other than fixing cars."
His wife Tsetsegjargal also attended a skills-development training organised by the Khovd YDC and became a certified kindergarten assistant. And while finding a job in such a remote town is a challenge, she is nonetheless positive about the future. "My dreams are now brighter. I want all my kids to finish school and be well-educated. I want to build a happy family," she said.
The YDCs, which promote positive changes in young people's lives, are an essential part of UNFPA's Youth Development Project, jointly funded by the governments of Mongolia, Switzerland and Luxembourg since 2014.
The project also works to strengthen youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, emphasizing outreach to young men and women.
Addressing gender inequality and gender-based violence (GBV) among youth is one of the project's key targets, with public awareness-raising activities an important component in ensuring youth do not become victims of GBV.
The project also works to create an enabling policy environment with advocacy and lobbying mechanisms that contribute to young Mongolians realizing their full potential.
Coaxing Ritual for Camels Inscribed to UNESCO Cultural Heritage List
Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
December 2 (gogo.mn) Mongol herders perform the coaxing ritual to encourage a female camel to accept a new-born calf or to adopt an orphan. The mother is tied close to the calf and a singer begins a monotone song accompanied by gestures and chanting.
The coaxer changes the melody depending on the mother's behaviour, which may be initially aggressive, and slowly coaxes her into accepting the calf. Performance of the ritual takes place at dusk or twilight and requires great skill in handling camels, as well as talent for singing and musical skill on the horse head fiddle or flute. Most herdswomen engage in techniques and methods of coaxing, but professional coaxers may be enlisted to undertake the ritual when a singer or musician is unavailable within the local community.
The ritual acts as a symbolic medium for creating and maintaining social ties among individual nomadic families and their community. It is transmitted from parents and elders to youth through home tutoring. Changes in the social and cultural environment, however, have negatively affected its viability. Today, motorcycles are preferred to camels as a means of transportation, and increasing migration to urban centres has diminished the number of young herders. The number of cultural bearers is therefore decreasing rapidly as new generations lose touch with their traditional ties to pastoral husbandry.
Link to release (includes pictures, and video)
RIDERS UNDER STORMS: Nomadic Herdsmen in Mongolia & Climate Change
October 26 (Exposure) --
…is one of the world's most sparsely populated countries, with an area almost as large as Western Europe but with less than 1/10 the population. Much of its land is covered by grassy steppe with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south.
To this day, at least 25% of the population lives a nomadic life, dependent on this vast open land for survival. However, climate change in recent years has rendered their lifestyle difficult to maintain. Extreme weather events including droughts, flash flooding and harsh winters are more common. Unsustainable agriculture and development practices further accelerate the deterioration of the country's land and water resources and ecosystem services.
In the past 30 years, nearly a quarter of the land in Mongolia has turned to desert and thousands of lakes and rivers have dried out.
ADAPTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Maintaining sufficient water supplies for the mountain and steppe ecosystems is one of the most serious issues faced in Mongolia. The government of Mongolia started a project in 2012 in two targeted eco-regions, the Altai Mountain/Great Lakes Basin and the Eastern Steppe, to find better tactics for grazing management, restoration of riparian zones and efficiency of water use. This will make water resources and pasture more resilient to climate change. The project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the Adaptation Fund.
For the communities like Kharkhiraa and Turgen in the west and Ulz river basin in the east of Mongolia, getting fresh vegetables and fruit is now no longer a problem.
Twelve greenhouses have been built for vegetable production, which helps the herders to strengthen their adaptability to climate change. The production increased their income and for the first time in their life, they now enjoy the delicious taste of strawberry.
A number of climate change adaptation technologies to save water and protect soil were introduced in places like Bayandun, Bayan-Uul, Chuluunkhoroot, Choibalsan soums of Dornod aimag, Norovlin soum of Khentii aimag and Ulaangom, Turgen, Tarialan, Naranbulag and Khovd soum of Uvs aimag since 2014. Techniques including greenhouse farming, drip irrigation systems, strawberry planting and preserving, and reducing soil erosion through agro-forestry have been introduced to local communities.
B. Batmunkh and his wife B. Namjil, citizens of Dashbalbar soum, Dornod aimag, participated in a series of vegetable garden trainings organized by the project. The family used to grow only potatoes, but after the trainings, they learnt to grow many other vegetables, such as pumpkin and watermelon. They are now familiar with organic farming techniques, including proper irrigation schemes, use of organic fertilizers and agro-forestry.
WATER IS TREASURE
When communities started planting vegetables and fruits like strawberries, one of the issues they faced was inadequate water supplies. In order to solve this issue, a water efficient drip irrigation system was introduced, replacing the use of the old-fashioned non-environmental friendly techniques. Communities increased their income by selling strawberries they grew for a price of USD 8-13 per kilogram. The exotic fruit is always high in demand.
WATER USER GROUPS
Upstream users and downstream users in the Turgen/Kharkhiraa river basin used to have a lot of disputes regarding water usage. Now, things have changed. The project facilitated the establishment of Water User Groups in three soums in Uvs aimag, which helped the local community to plan on water use and set up joint monitoring.
Two traditional rain and snow melts catchment facilities were constructed in Turgun soum with total volume of 3000m3 and the potential to provide 10 thousand heads of livestock with drinking water for 2 months during the extended dry season.
Pilot design and engineering drawings for two small-scale water harvesting structures were initiated in Ulz river basin in June, 2015 with co-financing of 45 million Tugriks (USD 22,000.00) by Dornod Aimag Environmental Protection Agency. The size and capacity are expected to be 24.25 km2 drainage basin, 8.29 km long with 7.7-12.2 m3/sec water flow for irrigation of tree, vegetable, and fodder fields, as well as providing access for livestock and wildlife to watering and haymaking areas.
UNDP-supported vocational training has enabled women to run small businesses such as felt and wool processing, dairy processing, and organic farming. Kh. Narantuya, a community member of Turgen soum, Uvs aimag made an additional income for her daugther's tution fee by selling wool products.
GLACIER MONITORING POST IN TURGEN MOUNTAIN
Mongolian mountains play a vital role in the regional ecosystem, but in recent years, snowcap and glaciers on the peaks of the mountains have been melting because of climate change.
Collecting data on the current state of the glaciers is important to observe the impact of climate change. By setting up a glacier monitoring station, the project is helping to strengthen the hydrological monitoring capacity of the country.
The monitoring camp is located in the Turgen mountains in the west of Mongolia, 3000 m above sea level. Designed with energy efficiency, the camp was built under challenging conditions with the help from local communities. Construction materials were transported by different means, ranging from trucks to traditional pack animals like horses, yaks and camels.
There are now 26 springs in 9 target soums which are protected and rehabilitated with environmentally sound techniques. More than 300 people representing relevant soum authorities, local communities and Soum coordinators were involved in the activities and learnt about the new techniques to rehabilitate springs. The knowledge will be passed on to others in their local community.
The protection of the spring have now rehabilitated over 117,000 ha abandoned pasture, providing drinking water for 500 local residents and 69,500 livestock.
FOOTNOTES: Story by Jin Ni, Edited by Chimeg Junai, Tuya Tserenbataa, Midori Paxton & Erin Charles. Photos by Midori Paxton & EBA Project staff
Extreme winter conditions threaten Mongolian herders
December 2 (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) Hundreds of thousands of nomadic herder families who live on the vast grasslands of Mongolia are under threat with the onset of severe winter weather, or what is called 'Dzud' in Mongolian language. Dzud is heralded by a dry summer resulting in a poor harvest of hay for winter feed. In many places temperatures have dropped below -30C and pasture land is being covered with up to 45 cm of snow. In the worst affected areas half-starving herds of livestock are already struggling to cope with the cold weather.
"The Red Cross is deeply concerned about the situation, and we are now preparing for the possibility that we may need to launch a large emergency operation," said Ms. Nordov Bolormaa, Secretary General of the Mongolian Red Cross Society after a long contingency planning meeting with her disaster management staff.
The Mongolian National State Emergency Committee has warned that over the coming weeks there is strong likelihood of a 'Dzud' disaster similar to that witnessed in the winter of 2009 – 2010 when snowstorms and extreme cold killed millions of animals, depriving poor herder families in the worst affected areas of their only source of income. Tens of thousands of households lost all or more than half of their animals and many were forced to move to slum areas on the outskirts of Ulaan Baatar and other urban centres. Large scale migration to the cities exacerbates social problems such as unemployment, alcoholism and extreme poverty.
At the end of November the Mongolian Information and Research Institute of Meteorology and Environment forecast that extreme winter conditions will affect 40% of the country in the coming weeks. In the period from mid-December to mid-January temperatures are expected to remain far below what is normal for this season and snowfall is likely to be much more than in an average winter.
"Herders are much worse off this winter than they were in 2009," says Dr. Davaajargal Baasansuren, Health Promotion Programme Officer at the Mongolian Red Cross. "Livestock prices are lower than they have been for the past five years, which means that people will not be able to buy food and fuel. They will also not be able to afford feed for their animals and won't be able to save them without help."
Local governments in the affected areas are now doubling their winter preparedness efforts. They have called for increased support to prepare for what may become the most serious Dzud disaster in many years. 80% of all provinces in the country are considered to be inadequately prepared for even a normal winter, underlining the importance of taking immediate measures to save livestock in the areas that are most at risk.
"It is not easy to reach the herders and provide them with the support they need," says Dr. Enkhjin Garid, IFRC National Programme Coordinator in Mongolia. "They live scattered over an enormous area, and their nomadic lifestyle can make them very difficult to locate. If the winter turns out to be as serious as long term weather forecasts predict, we are going to need the combined efforts of both domestic and international humanitarian actors to be able to provide the necessary support to these families. "
Presently Uvs province is the most affected part of the country, and 218 families with 110 children are reported to be migrating within the province in search of better pastures for their livestock. 810 families live in the most remote part of the province that has now become unreachable because of heavy snow. Of particular concern is the increasing density of the snow cover, as it makes the animals unable to scratch through it to get to the grass below.
"Many families are already facing serious difficulties, and the situation is expected to become much worse in the coming weeks," said Ms. Bolormaa. "We will continue to monitor the situation and it is important that all humanitarian actors follow the development closely and do what they can to avert the crisis that this winter threatens to bring to the herders of Mongolia."
Snow Leopards Face New Threat from Climate Change—People
December 2 (National Geographic) Just as the last of the blushing light drained from the sky in western Mongolia, the "ghost of the mountain" struck at the foot of sacred Jargalan mountain where the rocky snow line gives way to a dry and treeless expanse of steppe.
"I saw my animals were very afraid, they were running from something," said Myagmarjan Maamkhuu in his yurt-like tent, or ger, the day after the incident. "When I got closer, I saw the snow leopard with one of my sheep."
It was Tenger, a mature female well known to Maakkhuu. "Of course we were angry at first, but we've got used to it," he said, offering me milky tea served in a bowl as his wife and three young sons sat by our side. "We don't go looking for revenge."
Maamkhuu tends more than a thousand livestock—sheep and goats mainly and a few horses—and this sheep, he said, with a zen-like lack of angst, was the third one he'd lost that week to snow leopards. In a bad year, the elusive spotted cats take up to 30 of his animals.
A local folk song celebrates Maamkhuu's home, the Altai Sayan mountains of western Mongolia:
Snow melts, springs flow,
And fresh green grasses grow,
Indeed, mysterious, old, beautiful Altai Sayan.
But the bucolic haven of that ode is fast becoming a fantasy. More than a third of Mongolia's 2.6 million people are, like Maamkhuu, nomadic or seminomadic herders, and their pasturelands are disappearing.
Sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia is the world's second largest landlocked country. It's among the countries most affected by global warming—the focus of the world's nations in Paris this week—because of its geographic location, fragile ecosystems, and pastoral way of life.
So Maamkhuu and other herders are taking their animals to better pastures at higher elevations. On those mountainsides, their sheep and goats are eating grasses that sustain wild argali (blue) sheep and ibexes, themselves the main food supply of snow leopards.
To Track a Sheep Thief
Nine days into the expedition, the team hadn't seen hide nor hair of Tenger—or any other snow leopard. But the next morning when we went to check on the sheep carcass, most of the remains were gone. Sure enough, as the video footage from the camera trap showed, Tenger had returned to eat the rest of the sheep. Yet she'd eluded the cable snares.
Back at base camp, Munkhtogyokh opened his laptop. He wanted to show me how herders are avenging attacks on their livestock. In one frame, a snow leopard limps along with a metal hunting trap locked around its front paw. It pauses, sniffs the ground, and staggers out of camera range.
According to Munkhtogyokh, 5 of the 37 snow leopards they'd recorded had either lost a front paw or been caught in snares set along snow leopard trails.
He said he'd seen two cubs with their mother, whose front paw was caught in one. She was struggling to keep up with her young, he said. "Snow leopards catch animals with the two front legs. When one paw is cut, it's a tragedy. How is she going to feed herself and her cubs?"
More Sheep Kills
By the penultimate afternoon of the expedition a snow leopard had picked off three more sheep from Maamkhuu's flock.
"We could go to the place where there are no snow leopards and stay there during the winter, like the mountain to the east, but on that mountain there is no grass, Maamkhuu said. "It's bad for livestock—it would be hard to deliver our lambs.".
In a bad year, the elusive spotted cats take up to 30 of his animals.
Maamkhuu waved me over to his telescope, through which I could make out a bloody carcass lying in a gully of grey rock and patchy scrub far down the valley. A few feet away, a long fluffy tail was sticking out from behind a bush, slowly twitching. It was Tenger, guarding the dead sheep and waiting for nightfall when she'd eat.
Twilight bled to dusk, and the WWF researchers arrived. Tenger retreated up the hill, and the team set about laying more cable traps.
The following morning we returned to the carcass. Crouching next to her kill was Tenger, a cable-snare looped around her front right paw. The team quickly tranquilized her and, after a gentle prod with a stick to make sure she was asleep, took vital measurements, such as her weight, and swapped the old tracking collar for a new one.
"I'm very pleased that we caught the same snow leopard," Munkhtogyokh said, kneeling over the motionless Tenger. "It's much better than catching a different one." That's because the cache of information stored in her original collar and the promise of all the fresh data they'll get from the new one will go a long way toward helping them map out a protected snow leopard area.
The mission is urgent. A further 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) of warming is predicted in Mongolia by the end of the century, according to Tuya Tserenbataa, a climate change expert with the Mongolian government.
"There's an old proverb," Tserenbataa said. If you talk about bad things, then they will happen. But if we don't do anything now, life will become very difficult."
If the predicted warming comes to pass, life will become even harder for Maamkhuu and other herders in Mongolia—and no less hard for the dwindling numbers of snow leopards.
The information from Tenger, Munkhtogyokh said, is "very significant both scientifically and practically. Very significant."
Photos: New National Basketball Super League Season Starts
December 2 (news.mn) The new season of the "National Super League", hosted by the Mongolian National Basketball Federation started on 28th November at the "Khandgait Sport Palace".
Mountaineer B.Gangaamaa to tackle South America's highest peak
December 2 (news.mn) A woman climber, B.Gangaamaa, who holds the title of Honorary Mountaineer of Mongolia, is planning to conquer Aconcagua, South America highest mountain next month. This is her second attempt to climb the 6962 meters high mountain. If she can reach the peak, she will become the 8th Mongolian, and the 4th Mongolian female mountaineer, who has done so.
In 2013, B.Gangaamaa and others tried to climb Aconcagua, but for various reasons had to return. One member of their team, D.Erdenetogtokh, however, continued and became the first Mongolian mountaineer to reach the summit.
This time, B.Gangaamaa will climb with a Hong-Kong mountaineer who represents the "North Face" clothing brand. They will ascend using the so-called "Polish Glacier Route", which was discoveried in 1934 by Poland mountaineers.
Aconcagua is one of the world's "Seven" highest peaks and is the highest mountain outside Asia. It is situated in the Andes in Argentina.
B.Gangaamaa to conquer Mt. Aconcagua – Montsame, December 2
Pan-Mongol Boxing Tournament to Be Held in Ulaanbaatar, December 12-14
Ulaanbaatar, December 2 (MONTSAME) An international boxing tournament of World Mongolians will take place this December 12-14 in Ulaanbaatar initiated by the World Mongolians Global Association.
To be held in six weight divisions and 18-40 years old age categories, the competition is expected to attract boxers of Mongolia, Chinese Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Russian Kalmykia, Tuva and Buryatia.
As hosting the tournament, Mongolia will be represented by up to four boxers in each weight category. Our boxers will be qualified according to the latest national ranks, the association says.
A gold medal winner of each bout will receive a golden Gerege of 750 k (paiza) and cash prize of USD 1,500, a runner-up--cash prize of USD 1,000, and bronze medalist--USD 500.
Singer Dashdondog: People wouldn't buy albums when they can't even buy bread
December 2 (UB Post) State Honored actor and singer B.Dashdondog has announced that he is working on a new album. He said he hasn't released an album for several years as he was busy producing songs for other artists. B.Dashdondog is planning to release five new albums next year. The following is an interview with B.Dashdondog about his new albums and his career as a singer.
Can you tell us about your new albums?
Actually, the first album has been completed already. The economic difficulty is impacting heavily on artists as well. People wouldn't buy albums when they can't even buy bread. That's why, I'm delaying the album release.
Why did you decide to release five albums at once?
I haven't released any albums since "White Album", a joint album with singer N.Khaliun. My original plan was to release five albums simultaneously, but people in the music industry are telling me not to.
One album will have only duets. I collaborated with many female artists. I will release another album with songs I've sung before, such as "Taichigch Khuvguud ba Saaral Gudamj". I'm also combining songs I've sung as a member of Khukh Tenger (Blue Sky) band. There are videos of the songs I sang then, but their quality has become very poor. These songs will be included in the third album. I didn't make any changes to the songs' arrangements and only renewed the production quality.
The other two albums will contain brand new pop and jazz songs. I've been saving these songs for so long. Now it's time to release them. These songs have been kept for a long time, but they've aged like fine wine.
The 25th anniversary of Blue Sky band was held this year. Was one of the albums dedicated to the anniversary?
Annual Great Gobi Camel Festival Attracts 400 Camels from Four Aimags
December 2 (gogo.mn) Great Gobi Camel Festival 2015 was held in Altai city, Gobi-Altai province. The event is organized with the goal to improve camel breed, to increase number of camels, to exchange views on camel herding and to promote camel culture to the public. Over 400 camel riders from Gobi-Altai, Khovd, Umnugobi, and Bayankhongor attended the festival.
Camel herders J.Tumurbat, B.Zandankhuu, D.Batchuluun, Yu.Togtokh and V.Khadbaatar were honored by Ministry of Agriculture for their contributions to increasing the number of camel.
The festival has been organized annually since 2005.
10 of the World's Most Mind-Blowing & Remote Hotels: #1 Jalma Meadows Wildnerness Camp, Mongolia
November 30 (D'Marge) There's off the beaten path, and then there's this. When the hustle and bustle of city life becomes too much to bear, in-the-know travellers escape to destinations so remote there may not be a path at all (beaten or otherwise).
The world's most isolated resorts are accessed by 4×4, seaplane and boat. They are nestled deep within deserts, perched high atop mountains and cloistered on private islands. For those willing to venture to the ends of the Earth, 5-star retreats await in unexpected places.
When you need to get away from it all – really, really away – you can't be these ultra under-the-radar accommodations.
#1 Jalman Meadows Wilderness Camp | Mongolia
Four solid walls and a roof seem like basic requirements for luxury, until you see these glamourous tents in central Mongolia. The yurts – or gers, as they're called locally – of Jalman Meadows Wilderness Camp offer a 5-star experience and stunning 360-degree views in an eco-friendly, fully collapsible package. The camp, which is located about four hours outside of Ulaanbaatar, is freshly constructed each summer. No trace of it can be found during the fiercely cold winters.
Suite 702, Level 7, Express Tower
4 Peace Avenue, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15160, Mongolia
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