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Thursday, February 4, 2016
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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
MATD closed -28% Wednesday on the announcement to 2.25p
Petro Matad Delays Survey And Drilling Plans At Mongolia Project
LONDON, February 3 (Alliance News) - Petro Matad Ltd shares fell on Wednesday after the company said it had suspended its seismic data acquisition at its project in Mongolia and said its drilling plans for the site have been pushed back.
Petro Matad said it has completed its seismic data acquisition for Block IV at the project, but will now postpone collecting data for Block V and will start again in May.
Due to that delay, it now plans to start drilling two exploration wells at the project in 2017, rather than in 2016, as had been previously planned.
Shares dropped 20% to 2.5 pence on the news, the worst performer in the AIM All-Share.
Petro Matad said it remained confident in the project and said drilling the two wells back-to-back in 2017 will result in operational efficiencies for the business. It also said the availability of drilling rigs, amid the slowdown in activity in the oil and gas industry following the oil price plunge, makes it likely it will be able to secure drilling rigs for the project at a lower cost than had previously been envisaged.
The company said the collapse in the oil price had not hit its operations overall, and it remains confident on the Mongolia project.
TER closed +16.7% to A$0.007
TerraCom: Significant Progress Towards Debt Restructuring
February 3 -- TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) (ASX: TER) is pleased to announce significant progress towards the restructuring of its balance sheet and the continued implementation of its previously communicated Strategic Plan.
Following extensive negotiations with its lenders over the past few weeks, TerraCom has successfully achieved the following:
· Reached agreement with its existing note holders (represented by OCP Asia) to invest in a new 5-year interest-only bond with no cash payments due until 23 December 2016 (the Bond) that will replace their existing notes. This will have a significant impact on the Company's free cash flow and will give it much greater operational headroom and flexibility compared to previous notes which were principal and interest.
· Secured a new loan of USD$5 million from its existing note holders, which will replace the previously envisaged AUD$7 million equity placement to SPG Investment Holdings Ltd (SPG). This not only provides the Company with important additional working capital, but also avoids the shareholder dilution that would have occurred had the placement to SPG gone ahead. The additional loan has been made available immediately on a short-term basis and will ultimately form part of the Bond described above.
· Received conversion notices from holders of 50% of its Convertible Notes (i.e. representing US$5 million) and issued corresponding shares to the converting parties on 29 January 2016. This reduces the Company's total debt by USD$5 million and demonstrates the support of the new shareholders for the Company at this stage in its development.
· Received confirmation from the holders of the remaining USD$5 million of Convertible Notes that the conversion date has been extended to 28 February 2016, before which time the Company understands these will be incorporated into the new Bond described above. This will not only extend the term of this debt, but will also eliminate the prospect of further shareholder dilution from the conversion of these instruments.
Potential Listing on Asian Stock Exchange (Dual or Sole)
AKM last traded A$0.008 on Tuesday
Aspire cuts mining cost estimates at Ovoot
February 3 (World Coal) Mining cost estimates for Aspire Mining's Ovoot metallurgical coal project in Mongolia have been cut by 22% following a high-level review of the project to take into account current market conditions.
"The Ovoot cost estimates were initially completed for the 2012 Revised Pre-Feasibility Study when all cost inputs were derived during boom conditions," the company said in its 4Q15 report."The review was conducted to reflect the current market costs, which, over the last three years have seen significant cost deflation as a result of a number of factors including foreign exchange movements, labour rates and other input costs."
The 22% decrease in mining costs confirms the expectation that Ovoot remains at the lower end of the global metallurgical coal cost curve on a FOR China basis, the company said.
The company also received the results of a geophysical survey conducted over the Ovoot tenements and surrounding areas by local Mongolian firm, AMO-Discover LLC. The survey identified two regions of interest that have been recommended for further surveying and drilling to the southwest and within existing exploration licenses.
"The results of the geophysical report are positive and confirm the substantial potential to increase the existing coal resources and reserves at Ovoot," the company said.
The survey also identified areas of limited further exploration potential and the company is now in the process of relinquishing 17 000 ha. of tenement area, reducing its tenement position to about 25 000 ha.
Aspire Mining is the largest coal tenement holder in the Orkhon-Selenge Coal Basin in northern Mongolia. In addition to the Ovoot project, it also owns the Jilchigbulag Coal Project and Myngan Exploration Licence, as well as a 50% stake in the Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture, which owns the Nuurstei and Erdenebulag Coal Projects.
Through its Northern Railways subsidiary, the company is also developing rail infrastructure to connect its mining project to Mongolia's existing rail network as part of a planned international trade corridor between Russia, Mongolia and China.
TRQ closed +4.55% Wednesday to US$2.07, -18.5% YTD
Turquoise Hill Resources Is Like A 100 Kilogram Baby
By David Desjardins
Once the underground development will be finalized, the Oyu Tolgoi mine could contribute to approximately 30% of the gross domestic product of Mongolia. Due to this factor, the geopolitical risk is pretty low at this point in my mind. This is a game-changer project for the Mongolian nation. The disputes with the government were finally resolved in May 2015. It is important to mention that the real value of the Oyu Tolgoi mine resides in its underground expansion. The current open pit operations are negligible versus the potential of the underground expansion. The Oyu Tolgoi mine is like a 100 kilograms baby. It is simply giant and outsized.
Why I'm Increasing My Position In Turquoise Hill Resources
By Gary Bourgeault
How to look at TRQ at this time
Mogi: no trade updates since Thursday. Shame. No one else is doing it
₮25 Billion 14.94% Discounted 52-Week T-Bills Sold with ₮34.8 Billion Bids
February 3 (BoM) Auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 25.0 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 25.0 billion /out of 34.8 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 14.94%.
₮15 Billion 3-Year GoM Bond Auction Receives No Bids
February 3 (BoM) Auction for 3 years maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 15 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.
Historic low ₮2,014.43/USD set February 3, 2016. Previous reds are rates that set a new low at the time
BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, February 3 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM issues ₮256.9 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding +12% to ₮432.8 billion
February 3 (BoM) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 256.9 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
World Bank: Global Economic Volatility Poses Challenges for Mongolia
World Bank Report Calls for Sound Economic Management
ULAANBAATAR, February 3, 2016 (World Bank)—Mongolia's economy faces growing headwinds from a continued slump in the minerals market and heightened global financial volatility, according to the World Bank's Mongolia Economic Brief for January.
"Slower global demand and weaker prices of major commodities are dampening growth and exports of mineral-rich economies including Mongolia," said World Bank Senior Economist Taehyun Lee. "A sharp rise in Mongolia's external borrowing costs in January reflects a tighter financing environment for emerging economies as well as elevated Mongolia-specific risks perceived by the international financial market."
The report noted that the second phase development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine would help support investment needed to reignite growth momentum against weakening external demand.
"Restoring sound macroeconomic management and attracting foreign investment remain essential for strengthening the resiliency of the economy in the face of global financial volatility," said James Anderson, the World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia.
The report welcomed a proposal to transfer the Bank of Mongolia's subsidized mortgage program to the government. According to the World Bank, the subsidized mortgage program now needs to be implemented through the government budget without further central bank financing, so that it competes with other spending priorities. The report also called for attention to the sustainability of the program considering its fiscal costs.
Mogi: ummmmm, how's this different from what the NSO does?
Prices for consumer staples increase
February 3 (UB Post) The Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) conducted a study on food prices for consumers, comparing current prices with prices from the same period in 2015, and announced that the prices of basic consumer goods have increased since last year.
Seven markets in five districts of Ulaanbaatar were involved in the study. The research results showed that average prices for 18 goods had increased, prices for 15 basic goods had decreased, while prices for six staple goods were stable. Prices for meat, potato, sugar, millet, milk, eggs, and vegetable oil had increased, while prices for carrots, cabbage, onions, turnips, rice, yogurt, bread, and flour decreased.
Prices for meat: In comparison with data from the same period in 2015, prices for bone-in beef increased by 23.9 percent, beef was up by 22.5 percent, bone-in mutton was up by 33.4 percent, mutton was up by 37 percent, bone-in horse meat was up by 18.8 percent, horse meat was up by 24.7 percent, while bone-in goat increased by 24.7 percent, and goat meat was up by 22.1 percent.
Prices for flour: As of January 2016, the price of Altan Taria's highest quality flour ranged from 1,500 to 1,600 MNT per kilogram. High quality flour was sold for 1,200 to 1,300 MNT per kilogram, and the lowest grade of flour ranged from 1,000 to 1,100 MNT per kilogram.
Prices for vegetables: Prices for potato increased by 4.3 percent, while prices for carrots decreased by 4.3 percent, cabbage was down by 17.3 percent, turnip was down by six percent, and onion was down by 5.5 percent.
Prices for rice and sugar: Prices for rice decreased by 1.2 percent compared to the same period in 2015, while the price of millet increased by 7.2 percent, and sugar was up by 5.1 percent.
Prices for milk, eggs, and vegetable oil: Prices for eggs increased by 11.9 percent, and the price of packaged milk was up by 14.6 percent. Vegetable oil prices went up by 5.3 percent compared to 2015, according to the MNCCI's research.
INS Article: Difficult Times - Positive Progress
By Cameron McRae, Founding President, Institute for National Strategy
February 3 (Institute for National Strategy of Mongolia) --
The prime minister survives
When the recent "no-‐confidence" petition was finally lodged, championed by a resource nationalist MP, it gave the Prime Minister the opportunity to face the parliament and stare down his challengers. Analysis of what was said in parliament indicates that this vote was much more about politics and much less about the subject matter of the petition.
The final vote largely went along party lines, and unity in the DP saw the no-‐confidence motion fail. The DP's ability to manage its factions appears to be improving.
The election for national parliament has been set for June 29th and the Saikhanbileg-‐led government now has 5 months to complete work on existing programs. The key focus has been on re-‐invigorating the economy by enabling-‐mega projects, and making Mongolia more attractive as an investment destination.
Will FDI return to Mongolia?
Over the past 5 years Mongolia has travelled a tumultuous path. Rapid GDP growth fuelled by OT's Phase 1 and optimism around other mega-‐projects led to some very poor politics and policy settings. Investors retreated from Mongolia -‐ largely due to the political actions -‐ as the global boom evaporated to compound Mongolia problems.
However Rio Tinto and TRQ are committed to Mongolia, via their huge initial investment in Oyu Tolgoi. The OT shareholders have given sufficient comfort to the international lending syndicate to win their commitment to a $4.4 billion financing package which will underpin development of the $6 billion Phase 2 underground development.
When one looks at the very low copper price and what is happening globally with greenfield and brownfield investments, winning the OT project finance package appears extraordinary. Yes, OT is a world class ore body but having a world class shareholder/manager with strong international credentials is essential to raise large sums of money.
But what about other potential large projects and interested investors? What is their appetite to invest? To fully appreciate this question we need to look at this from outside Mongolia first.
The reality for Mongolia is that the global economy is shaky. The collapse in the prices of oil, gas and mineral products has been fast, large and from all-‐time price highs. Chinese growth rates are not strong enough to overcome structural problems in certain mining sectors and the eventual recovery in commodity prices will not be quick or strong. Those countries and companies that enjoy large resource industries (oil, gas and minerals) are especially suffering – with balance sheets smashed and strong currencies weakened.
Consequently the global pools of capital (including sovereign wealth funds) are now far more cautious on future investments. Investors access risk and in Mongolia's case the political risk perception is critical.
Have lessons been learnt?
Is Mongolia repositioning properly to attract FDI?
What can be achieved in 5 months?
Despite Commodities Boom Years, Mongolia Still Faces Capacity Gap
Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries.
February 3 (World Politics Review) As a commodities-exporting country deeply linked to the Chinese market, Mongolia faces heightened risks from the current commodities slump and China's economic slowdown. In an email interview, Jonathan Berkshire Miller, director of the Council on International Policy, discusses the impact of the commodities slump on Mongolia.
WPR: How important are commodities for Mongolia's economy, and what effect have falling commodities prices had on public spending and, by consequence, political stability?
Jonathan Berkshire Miller: Commodities, and their prices, remain a critical valve for the Mongolian economy. After years of soaring economic growth, the Mongolian economy has precipitously cooled over the few past years with a sharp decline in GDP growth and a looming deficit of foreign direct investment (FDI). Indeed, Ulaanbaatar remains heavily dependent on the mining sector for its economic fortunes, which have been battered over the past three years due to the sinking price of coal as global supply outpaced demand. But while the demand for coal is once again slated to surpass supply in the coming years, Mongolia's FDI numbers remain low. The fall in prices has impacted public spending on critical infrastructure and filling crucial capacity gaps.
In addition to these issues, the government is also struggling, under the brunt of decreased revenue, to keep up a steady flow of fuel subsidies to offset the cost of energy. Energy costs have an effect more broadly, but it is especially acute toward businesses and large consumers of energy in Mongolia. That said, the last budget, approved in November 2015, for the most part did not touch fuel subsidies and social welfare benefits. Going forward, however, it will be difficult for Ulaanbataar to maintain this position if growth continues to be limited.
WPR: How effectively did Mongolia use the revenue windfalls of the commodities boom to develop infrastructure and address poverty and social welfare issues?
Miller: During its boom years, Mongolia did take significant efforts to develop its infrastructure, especially in the "key need" areas such as energy, water, transportation and telecommunications. The problem is that the need and capacity gap is so large that these efforts, spearheaded by both the private and public sector, remain insufficient. Infrastructure capacity remains poor in Mongolia, and while there have been improvements, universal access to water and especially electricity remains a distant goal. In addition to the lack of potable water supply, there are also major infrastructure issues with regard to access of adequate sewage collection and waste disposal. Ulaanbaatar similarly lacks the necessary infrastructure on railways and roads, critical for the transit of goods. The problem of transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed in order to facilitate commodity trade between Mongolia and its two neighbors, China and Russia.
On social welfare issues, the government has a well-established system, but it has underperformed due to a poor targeting strategy. According to the World Bank's most recent report, the poorest 20 percent of people in Mongolia received 34 percent of total social welfare transfers, while approximately 30 percent of the benefits were received by the richest two quintiles. This standard lags behind other countries in Central Asia and Europe.
WPR: What steps has Mongolia taken to diversify its economy, and how effective have they been?
Miller: Diversification of the Mongolian economy is desperately needed in order to reduce its exposure to commodity price shocks. While it will be impossible to eliminate this exposure, lessening the blow is achievable with more diversification. Right now, Mongolia remains highly vulnerable due to its export dependence. Mining continues to dominate the export sector and represents a large share of the Mongolian GDP. The government has been looking at diversifying and recognizes the need to skirt the "resource curse." Some targeted areas have been effective, especially in sectors such as agriculture and tourism, which account for a combined 25 percent of Mongolia's GDP. Ulaanbaatar should focus even more efforts on boosting tourism, especially as an eco-tourism location. On agriculture, there is a need for new capacity on biotechnology as well as for learning best practices from international companies. Diversification of its energy supply is another area of interest, with the question of potentially looking at nuclear power in the future.
Mongolia's Democrats Seek Absorption of Parties Ahead of Vote
By Michael Kohn
February 3 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's ruling Democratic Party is seeking to absorb two minority parties in Parliament, party chief Enkhbold Zandaakhuu said in an e-mail.
* Civil Will Green Party and Mongolian National Democratic Party have been invited to join the DP on condition both parties de-register
* "Reason for this is simple," Enkhbold says. "All democratic parties will become one party in order to not split our votes. The DP party ideology will remain the same."
* NOTE: Parliamentary elections set for June 29
₮16.5 billion to be spent organizing 2016 elections, same as 2012
February 3 (UB Post) The General Election Commission (GEC) has completed the operational plans for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The following is an interview with GEC Secretary Ts.Boldsaikhan, published on shuud.mn.
Did state financing for the organization of elections increase?
Parliament has approved the spending of 16.5 billion MNT from the 2016 state budget for the parliamentary elections. This amount is the same amount that was spent on the 2012 parliamentary and local elections. During the previous elections, we saved 7.8 billion MNT from the approved amount from the state budget.
Can you please give us some information on campaign policy?
Deputy PM denies forcing G.Shiilegdamba to resign from cabinet, party posts
February 3 (UB Post) While the state still hasn't found effective methods to curb hazardous levels of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, another foggy situation has risen in the political climate concerning G.Shiilegdamba.
G.Shiilegdamba, the former Secretary General of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and the former Minister of Health and Sports, addressed a letter to the public about the alleged truth behind his corruption case, on January 28, and a picture of the hand-written letter was posted online the next day. According to the MPRP's press secretary, B.Tulga, G.Shiilegdamba's secretary said that Shiilegdamba's writing in the letter didn't match his typical writing style.
G.Shiilegdamba was arrested on November 4, 2015, for allegedly accepting a bribe in his office at the Ministry of approximately 500 million MNT in foreign currency from a company owner. He was taken to the General Executive Agency of Court Decision's Detention Center No.461. Members of the MPRP E.Erdenejamiyan and Ts.Sharavdorj held a press conference on November 5, 2015, and said that Shiilegdamba was not a person who would accept bribes.
When G.Shiilegdamba was arrested on November 4, there were rumors that he was arrested for accepting a bribe with a mission to accumulate finances as instructed by the authorities of his party.
His time in custody was supposed to end on November 18, 2015, but the court decided to extend his detainment by two months at the request of the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC). He was then transferred to Tuv Province Detention Center. On December 4, 2015, he was transferred to the intensive care unit of the Third State Central Hospital due to poor health. After three days, he returned to the detention center. Since his preliminary hearing didn't take place within 60 days of his arrest, G.Shiilegdamba was released on bail on December 31, 2015.
The IAAC believed that G.Shiilegdamba accepted a bribe and transferred his case to the General Prosecutor's Office on January 13.
The Prosecutor's Office sent the case files to IAAC for further investigation after the release of G.Shiilegdamba's letter to the public, according to the T.Munkhtungalag, a spokesperson from the IAAC. The IAAC confiscated critical documents from the finance office of the MPRP on January, and detained their general accountant, Tsetsgee, to question her that evening. She was released later that night.
On January 29, N.Enkhbayar said during his appearance on The Badarchiin Jargalmaa Hour on Eagle TV that he thought G.Shiilegdamba's letter was fake. "G.Shiilegdamba's letter is probably fake. If it is his, he might be under lots of emotional stress. Some of the phrases in the letter are not things he would say… I didn't receive a penny from G.Shiilegdamba," N.Enkhbayar said.
G.Shiilegdamba made his first appearance for the media after he was arrested on February 1, appearing on Tsenzurgui Yaria (Uncensored Talks) hosted by L.Munkhbayasgalan on C1 TV.
Justice Coalition Caucus - Days Numbered?
February 3 (news.mn) It is being reported that the three MP's G.Uyanga, L.Tsog, and O.Baasankhuu, who planned to bring down the Saikhanbileg Government, are now about to cause the collapse of the Justice Union Group in Parliament, of which they are members. According to the law, for a group in Parliament to exist - it must have a working quorum of at least 8 members. If these three MP's leave the Justice Union Group there will not be a quorum and it will have to be disbanded. We, therefore, asked MP G.Uyanga to clarify this. Here is her response:
-The Justice Union Group, which combines the Mongolian People's Revolution Party (MPRP) and the Mongolian National Democratic Party (MNDP), has many mistakes. For example, our party has, on several occasions, made official demands, to Parliament, about Oyu-Tolgoi. But, the Justice Union Group has protected the Government. The Justice Union Group is not able to work fairly. Also, there is the current sensation about Minister G.Shiilegdamba who was arrested and is at present on bail.
However, the disintegration of the Justice Union Group is not our intention. Under any circumstances, leaving the group would be the easiest choice - I am not looking for easiest choices. We could choose to leave, if it is absolutely necessary. Being involved in the group is a strong subject. Unfortunately, the group is not working in the right direction.
DP caucus leader briefs media, says 5% mortgages possible by February
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Head of parliamentary faction of Democratic Party B.Garamgaibaatar made press briefing February 2 about the faction's meeting held on Monday. Directions were given to law initiators regarding an adopting of Law on Elections, he said.
The Speaker Z.Enkhbold and the PM Ch.Saikhanbileg had given some information to the faction, for example, the PM talked about good performances since the VAT payback, five percent mortgage loan, government bonds, loaning petroleum from Russia, customs and taxation systems' online modules, he said.
"As the PM said, the interest rate of mortgage loan for apartments can be reduced to five percent, and the interest rate of herders' loan--down by threefold within February," he went on.
When asked about the issue of "loaning petroleum", Garamgaibaatar explained that Mongolia's government and the Russian "Rosneft" company had reached an agreement on supply us with petroleum "without an advance payment". "The reason is that Mongolia's tax revenue is relatively lower in the first quarter of a year," he said.
Standing Committee on Petitions Works in City Districts
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Head of the parliamentary Standing committee on petitions J.Batzandan together with S.Byambatsogt and D.Sarangerel MPs worked Tuesday in the city's Bayanzurkh, Sukhbaatar and Khan-Uul districts.
After having heard the districts people's opinions they said their Standing committee started receiving views and proposals from people through so-called suggestion-boxes and gave such boxes to relevant officials.
Mr Batzandan also added that the proposals and requests may be passed online and as personal delivery as well. "The suggestion-boxes appeared in 2015 at the Civil Halls of all provinces and the city's districts".
The MPs said they want the people's opinions be more related to issues of refining parliamentary decisions, monitoring an implementation of parliamentary decisions, and other legal documents.
In Bayanzurkh district, a secretary of the Citizens' Representative Khural (council) Ch.Mendsaikhan said this district deployed suggestion-boxes in all 15 khoroos (smallest administrative unit in the capital city), and added that proposals from people say about accelerating of the laws' realization. D.Sarangerel MP underlined a significance of the civil participation in prompt implementation of parliamentary decisions.
Parliament Subcommittee on Reducing Air Pollution Holds First Meeting
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Ts.Oyungerel MP called the first meeting of the Sub-committee on Reducing Air Pollution on February 3, soon after she was elected the head. The meeting focused on issues of eliminating air pollution in the ger areas of Ulaanbaatar.
Finally, the sub-committee issued a direction for the cabinet on formulating a five-year plan of converting ger-area heating to fully coal-free technology. The plan needs to be submitted to parliament within this March.
The direction also says that the plan needs to reflect ger-areas as "an integrated part of permanently sedentary Ulaanbaatar city".
The sub-committee highlighted that air pollution in the ger areas must be taken into immediate attention, as it does seriously harm children's health.
FM submits draft new wording of law on diplomatic service
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren Wednesday submitted to the Speaker a draft new version of the law on diplomatic service.
Having been worked out by a 2014 resolution of the parliamentary Standing committee on security and foreign policy, this draft has included clauses on expanding functions of the Mongolian diplomatic missions and consulates abroad in accordance with the foreign policy and national security concepts, on making clearer the regulations related to opening and closing of the diplomatic missions, on creating a translation service within the MFA structure in accordance with international standards, and on banning representative offices of state and local administrative bodies.
Other new clauses are about criteria for diplomatic services, salaries system for diplomats, and supporting employment abroad for family members of the diplomats, Purevsuren said.
Mongolia to promote its history, culture and arts through soft power policy
February 3 (UB Post) Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren has recently initiated a program to globally promote Mongolia through a soft power policy, which aims to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. The minister spoke about the Program on Promoting Mongolia Abroad in the interview below.
The Mongolian Night event has spurred various talks. What was the message intended to be delivered through this event?
The Mongolian Night event is highly significant. Without government funding, the Trade and Development Banks has organized this event in the last three years to promote Mongolia. Representatives and important figures of many countries, as well as businessmen, came to participate in this event. Mongolia's folk art was promoted in previous years. This year, we promoted contemporary arts, aside from Mongolian folk art. If we had opera singers perform last year, we had up and coming bands and singers perform this year. Famous singers such as S.Naran participated in this year's Mongolian Night event. The Mongolian Night event, held on Fridays, has become a national brand. The event was co-organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism. We will continue to combine traditional and contemporary arts to promote Mongolia. The government recently approved a program for this.
Mongolia has started to gain global attention. The time has come for promoting Mongolia's development in the correct way and update on Mongolia's outdated nomadic image. The Program on Promoting Mongolia Abroad, which you initiated, aims to create a new image of Mongolia. Can you tell us about it?
I've been working as an advisor to the President on foreign policy for five years before becoming a minister. I thought about many things while working as an advisor and realized that a soft power policy was necessary. Global practices show that delivering positive messages about a nation is important. It's important to establish a positive attitude among not only politicians but also ordinary people. This isn't something thought of on the spur of moment. It's actually a strategy that has been forgotten in the last few years.
The Resolution on the State Bureau was approved in 1954 to use culture and arts to promote Mongolia abroad. A similar policy directed towards non-socialist countries was passed in 1956. We had a foreign promotion council, led by the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, in 2000. But the council was dispersed three years ago. After receiving recommendations from researchers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to take on promotion of Mongolia as its main objective.
Soft power policy is becoming more and more important as countries globalize. Creating a positive image of Mongolia through political measures has become difficult. Arts, cultural and sports achievements appeal and attract the public more. This is what soft power policy is. Influential countries spend tons of money on it. I've had many researchers study about soft power policy before drafting and having the Program on Promoting Mongolia Abroad approved. Aside from promoting, all activities directed towards other countries will be determined through a certain strategy. The program aims to not only improve export but also eliminate things that distort history. The main purpose is to create a large national brand. We will show that Mongolia is rapidly developing and taking on modern trends while preserving its ancient culture, traditions and rich history. News about unstable political situation is one of the negative information about Mongolia that has spread abroad. Nations face this issue when their government changes. But Mongolia lost its image of being able to pass reasonable and sustainable decisions. I'm sure the government will pay attention to this issue. It's become crucial for the government to display that it has learned from previous mistakes and that it has made more concrete policies.
Ambassadors play an important role for implementing programs abroad. What kind of policy are you upholding to improve the skills of those who work at Mongolian embassies?
I gave special tasks to all Mongolian ambassadors when I was appointed as the foreign affairs minister. I ordered them to pay extra attention on promoting our nation through correct and accurate information and preventing any misunderstandings, on top of its principle role as a representative of the Mongolian state that protects the rights of our people. Mongolian embassies have been told to work together with Mongolian committees in their respective country. This task will be used to evaluate ambassadors' performance.
A radical reform was made within the past year. People are coming up with many new ideas. Even with the state budget in dire situation, Mongolians living abroad contribute greatly on completing many projects with small funds. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborated with the organizing committee for the Naadam Festival to hold My Mongolian Naadam competition last year. Mongolians living abroad had to organize Naadam festivals in their local area, and people in San Francisco were able to hold the best festival and promote their national culture and traditions. Second place went to Mongolians residing in Sweden. The ministry also started a special program called World Mongolians with Mongolian committees abroad. We will bolster Mongolian committees around the globe. A total of 140,000 Mongolians study, work and live abroad according to latest statistics. People who moved abroad in 1990s now have grandchildren, who can be considered as the third generation of Mongolians living abroad. We've started World Mongolians Program to preserve Mongolian language and traditions.
As Mongolians move to live away from their country, it's only a matter of time until they forget their mother tongue. Does the World Mongolians Program work to prevent the extinction of the Mongolian language?
Yes. Large number of people spread to different parts of the world after the government enabled people to travel abroad freely in 1990. Grandchildren of Mongolians who left Mongolia in 1990s are now studying in schools. The population of Mongolia is small. The foremost important thing to do is to preserve our history, culture, tradition and language. I studied ways to preserve our mother tongue while I was at the National Security Council. I found an interesting fact while researching. The Jewish people hadn't forgotten their mother tongue when they returned to their homeland 1,000 years later. During this period, the Jewish people used to gather every Friday and speak in their mother tongue. This is how they were able to preserve their language even after a millennium. Isn't this an amazing idea? So we initiated to meet on Sundays. Many Mongolian children gather at different places on weekends to play football. While children play, parents speak in Mongolian only.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has introduced online lessons and story time, which are provided in Mongolian language. An extra curriculum on Mongolian language is taught on the last day of the week to Mongolian children residing in the USA, Germany, Sweden and other countries. The respective ministry sends textbooks. Mongolian language textbooks have already been sent to California, England and Hawaii this year. More textbooks will be supplied to other nations. The President of Mongolia met with the Mayor of Seoul and discussed about opening a Mongolian school near Dongdaemun Market during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The South Korean side will provide a school building and license to teachers.
Protecting the national language must be part of the state policy. I'm working on a draft amendment for the Law on Citizenship. It's about providing privileges to Mongolians. Just like how the USA provides green cards, Mongolia provides Soyombo cards. Mongolians who have become a citizen of another country have to get visas to return to their homeland because Mongolia doesn't allow dual citizenship. They have to get registered if they stay a little longer. They are almost arrested if they exceed their stay. This can hurt their pride as a Mongolian. The Soyombo card will enable children born from Mongolians living abroad to visit Mongolia without a visa, stay and study in Mongolia without the requirement for registration. Only their right to participate in elections will be restricted. It's possible for them to become a Mongolian citizen if they wish to do so. Mongolians are very proud, and are quite arrogant sometimes. I'm always proud to be a Mongolian. But I would be greatly discouraged and upset if I had to get a visa to visit my homeland.
Mongolian actors, such as G.Ariunbaatar, E.Amartuvshin and N.Tuvshinbayar, are entering the international film industry. What kind of measures is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taking to support Mongolian artists with good potential?
This is exactly what the soft power policy is designed for. Opera singer G.Ariunbaatar gained international recognation recently. He even dined with the Queen of England and was invited for another dinner. I have appointed G.Ariunbaatar as a cultural ambassador. We used to have cultural ambassadors but only foreign people were appointed as one. I changed that policy after becoming a minister, allowing Mongolians to take this role. No one knows the history and culture of Mongolia better than Mongolians themselves. The first cultural ambassador was Yokozuna Hakuho M.Davaajargal, and then, Beijing Olympics champion N.Tuvshinbayar. Subsequently, I appointed principle dancer of the Boston Ballet D.Altankhuyag and opera singer G.Ariunbaatar as cultural ambassadors. They all said that they would gladly accept their role to promote the culture, arts and sports of their home country.
D.Altankhuyag has successfully organized a ballet night in Japan. Mongolian sumo champions are mentioning their home country every time they wrestle. So is our Olympic champion. There is certainly no better promotion than this. The ministry is currently meeting with major foreign football teams as they have proposed to scout Mongolian children to their club.
PM witnesses renovation in UB railway passenger service center
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Within the "Hour for solutions" weekly meeting on Wednesday, the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg addressed an opening of the renovated central station of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Mongolia-Russia joint venture.
The renovation started August of 2015 under 245 million Togrog financing. Now the station has fine art gallery, a duty-free shop, a reading hall, business conference hall, a pharmacy, and currency exchange.
The Premier said this work is a part of the preparation for the ASEM Summit that will run this July in Ulaanbaatar, "moreover, a new transit hall and extra parking area for airplanes have been commissioned at the Chingis Khaan international airport".
In order to ensure a convenience for passengers, main lobby areas at the central railway station have been expanded.
The Premier thanked the UB Railway for performing the work.
Mongolia government to offer more housing products
February 3 (UB Post) The government has begun to discuss commercial property mortgages and rent-to-own apartments. The mortgage market can't be limited to merely the housing loan with eight percent interest rate because rental apartments are also considered a mortgage product (Mogi: ummmm, nope, it is not).
As the economy of Mongolia expands, new services that are already established in developed countries are being introduced in Mongolia. One of them is mortgage. Highly developed countries offer 14 types of mortgage products. Currently, Mongolia offers just one of these products and that is the housing mortgage, with which people can purchase an apartment either under long or short term conditions.
Mortgage loans are provided with assistance and involvement of the state. This is because most governments in the world pay a great deal of attention on supporting the development of the mortgage market through policy and government funding.
This time, the Mongolian government is trying to introduce more mortgage products, namely a commercial property mortgage and rent-to-own arrangements, also known as lease-to-own house. The rent-to-own allows renters to pay a monthly fee to live in a house or apartment they have the option to buy. In this type of arrangement, the rent becomes a down payment to eventually purchase the home.
The new mortgage goods are projected to go on sale very soon. There is no doubt that the government will become the vanguard for the introduction, promotion, development and sales of the new products.
GOVERNMENT TO SET STANDARD ON RENTAL PROPERTY
The Minister of Construction and Urban Development Z.Bayanselenge is expected to issue a decree and pass a regulation for the application of rental home.
The Head of the Strategy and Policy Development Department of the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, Kh.Batbold, confirmed that the regulation will be approved shortly.
Passing the regulation will create a legal environment for enterprises to engage in rental apartment businesses. The State Housing Corporation of Mongolia (SHC) is preparing to launch and offer this type of mortgage products to the public. It was decided at a recent government meeting that the SHC will make 929 apartments, worth up to 52 billion MNT, available for rent. These apartments include 350 apartments in the capital and 579 apartments in rural settlements between 30 to 50 square meters in size. Depending on the size, the monthly rent in rural settlements will range from 140,000 to 230,000 MNT, whereas the rent in Ulaanbaatar will vary from 200,000 to 280,000 MNT.
The SHC estimated that each household can afford to spend 25 percent of its income on rent a month and set suitable rental amounts, according to Kh.Batbold.
He also stated, "In the past, the government passed a program specifying to lease 1,000 apartments every year from 2013 to 2016, and 2,000 apartments every year from 2017 to 2020. This project [to make 929 apartments available for rent] is part of this program".
Currently, a 50-square-meter apartment is rented for 500,000 to 600,000 MNT in Ulaanbaatar, according to a study by the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development. The ministry noted that the SHC will offer half the rate of the current market and that this will burst the economic housing bubble.
The private sector will be open to enter the rental apartment market. The SHC says that one of its objectives is to set a business standard for rental homes.
CIVIL SERVANTS TO BE HOUSED THROUGH RENT-TO-OWN
Head of the Strategy and Policy Development Department Kh.Batbold mentioned that the department is currently doing necessary studies before the rent-to-own arrangement is made available. The rent-to-own enables renters to pay a down payment and apply for a mortgage loan while renting a home.
Let's calculate the details of this deal. Let's say that a 39-square-meter apartment of Buyant Ukhaa-2, owned by the SHC, is rented for 250,000 MNT a month. The arrangement specifies that the renter will be able to purchase the apartment after paying 30 percent of the total price of the apartment through rent, in other words the down payment for a housing mortgage. The down payment is collected for a set period through a portion of the rent. If a person signs a contract to rent a 39-square-meter apartment for five years, he or she will have to pay a total of 15 million MNT for rent during this period. The apartment costs 1.35 million MNT per square meter according to the current market price. This means that the total price of a 39-square-meter apartment is 52.65 million MNT. 15 million MNT is a little lower than the 30 percent of the apartment price but it will be considered sufficient for the purchase. In this case, a 25-year-old will be able to apply for a mortgage loan for the purchase of his rental home when he reaches 30.
There are international practices which have introduced this form of mortgage for young families. Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul has proposed to house civil servants who work in the capital through this method.
OPPORTUNITY TO STRENGTHEN BUSINESSES
Another new mortgage product that is expected to launch is the commercial mortgage, which will give opportunities for enterprises to own a real estate and purchase its own building.
Businesses will be able to get its own building by paying down payment through rent and taking a loan for a period of 10 to 20 years. The same principle as the rent-to-own will apply for commercial mortgages. The government and Mongol Bank are conducting related research.
Countless small and medium sized businesses in Mongolia can't afford to buy a premise as they usually have low financial turnover and spend most of their income on rent. The commercial mortgage is a good opportunity for enterprises that earn low profit to attain an office while paying the same amount of rent as their current amount. Owning its own building and office will significantly reduce operation costs as businesses will not have to pay rent. This will help businesses expand operations.
According to a state official, the commercial mortgage is likely to launch with the new housing mortgage loan with five percent interest rate, which Speaker of Parliament and Head of the Democratic Party Z.Enkhbold is resolute about.
In any case, the new mortgage products present a wider range of opportunities for businesses and those wishing to buy a home, and the public is eager for it to become reality.
UBDC: CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST AND PROJECT PROPOSALS
February 3 -- UB Development Corporation (UBDC) is a city owned joint stock company with an intention to implement projects and programs within a Public-Private Partnership framework under UB City Master Plan 2030 adopted by Parliamentary Resolution No.23, passed in 2013, and the Economic Development Strategy of UB City which was passed by UB City Council' Resolution No. 26/08 in 2015.
We are inviting private companies and individuals willing to cooperate with us in implementing economically viable projects via Expression of Interest and/or Project Proposals.
The following criteria will be considered in selection of partners to implement projects:
- to be in line with UB City Master Plan 2030 and Economic Development Strategy of UB City;
- financial capability to invest into the project wholly or partially is preferred;
- must have financial models, cost-benefit analysis and feasibility studies;
- projects should be oriented for public good and social aspects;
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS IS 5 PM, FEB 28TH, 2016.
Address: Blue Sky Tower, Suite 409, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Telephone: (+976) 88093423, (+976) 89980468
UB Development Corporation JSC
UBDC aims to implement projects and programs under the Public-Private Partnerships, and ensuring the sustainable development of UB City.
Ulaanbaatar City Council Delegation Visits Sister City Bangkok
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) A delegation led by D.Battulga, a head of the Citizens' Representative Khural (Council) of Ulaanbaatar city, is paying a visit to Bangkok of Thailand.
On February 2, the delegation met with Mr Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the governor of Bangkok, and General Kanintorn Wongsarojana, First Vice Chairman of Bangkok Metropolitan Council, to consider ways of cooperation between the two sister cities.
Such ties were established in 1999, while direct contacts and cooperation have been markedly intensified, especially in recent years.
In the course of the talks, the sides noted that over the past period Ulaanbaatar and Bangkok councils exchanged delegations on a regular basis, "and this enabled us to share experiences in urban development". The sides also expressed a mutual satisfaction with a successful implementation of memorandums of understanding on Youth Exchange Programs and Cooperation in Health Sector concluded between the two city councils in 2014, and agreed to strengthen their collaboration in these areas.
Why Did Russia Just Write Off 97% of Mongolian Debt?
Vladimir Putin signed into law an agreement between the two countries settling outstanding debt obligations.
February 3 (The Diplomat) Last week, the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's bicameral parliament, ratified a government-to-government agreement between Russia and Mongolia that would result in a settlement of the vast majority of Mongolia's outstanding debt to Russia. On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified the legislation to put the debt forgiveness into effect.
According to Russia's state-run Tass news agency, Mongolia's unsettled debt with Russia came to a total of $174.2 million. The Russian law forgives 97 percent of Mongolia's outstanding debt to Russia. "It should be noted that the sum involves the debt denominated in the non-existing currency. Actually, the debtor always has a possibility to formulate the issue like this: no currency, no obligations. In this case, we agreed on recalculating the amount into the really existing monetary unit," remarked Russia's deputy finance minister, Sergei Storchak, referring to the difficulties of negotiating a debt agreement after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the conversion of the rouble in 2006.
The debt forgiveness has been a long time coming and has roots in the bilateral relationship between the two neighbors dating back to the early 1990s. Mongolia had borrowed heavily from the Soviet Union. In the early 2000s, its debt burden stood at around $10 billion, as estimated by Standard and Poor's. In 2004, Russia and Mongolia had worked out a deal that would allow Ulanbataar to pay off 11.4 billion in convertible rubles of debt from the Soviet era for a payment of "less than $300 million."
A bilateral agreement in July 2010 offered a simple tit-for-tat where a one-time payment for $3.8 million from Mongolia to Russia would resolve all outstanding debt issues and lead to Russian investment inflows. "As a result of bilateral negotiations held in July 2010, the sides managed to reach an agreement, under which Mongolia undertook to repay financial obligations worth 163.7 million convertible rubles and 10.5 million clearing US dollars with a lump sum payment of $3.8 million," an explanatory note, cited by Tass, explains.
The settlement of Soviet-era debt has been a major issue for the Russian Federation over the past two years. Russia has addressed similar issues concerning outstanding debts with several Cold War-era client states and partners, including Syria, Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and Afghanistan. The resolution of the debt issue now with Mongolia is particularly significant given growing strategic and commercial ties between the two neighbors. Mongolia, sandwiched geographically between Russia and China, attaches great importance to commercial ties with Russia.
Bilateral ties between Moscow and Ulanbataar had been steadily improving and the implementation of the debt forgiveness deal, which was agreed to over half-a-decade ago, should accelerate additional convergence. Notably, Russia had agreed to the debt forgiveness arrangement with Mongolia at a time of higher global oil prices and less pressure on its own budget. With sagging, negative quarterly growth rates and a stressed budget throughout 2015 and likely throughout 2016, the debt forgiveness arrangement may look less favorable from Moscow's perspective in retrospect.
The debt write-off does open interesting opportunities for Moscow as well. Mongolia is a major importer of refined petroleum, which comprises 22 percent of its overall imports as of 2013. 76 percent of Mongolia's imported petroleum comes from Russia. Additionally, Mongolia runs a negative trade balance with Russia, exporting just $56.2 million in goods in 2013 while importing $1.54 billion. For Russian state and private firms, Mongolia will continue to be seen as an opportunity.
ASEM Preparation Workshop Held by Konrad Adenauer Foundation
February 3 (ASEM Mongolia) On February 2, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) co-organized an ASEM analysis workshop for select ASEM Office Staff and country liaison officers. Dr. Professor Sebastian Bersick, a professor at Ruhr University Bochum, presented research on ASEM's relevance and vision, as well as findings on ASEM's current position analysis.
"Organizing ASEM successfully is not just about showcasing professionalism in logistical organization, but also about driving appropriate discussion content," said H.E. Orgil Luvsantseren, Deputy Head of ASEM Office of Mongolia and Senior Official in ASEM, as he opened the session for 50 participants who had convened in the Consensus Hall of MFA on Wednesday morning.
The workshop consisted of four sessions: "Assessment of ASEM", "ASEM's Institutional Set-up", "Perception, Awareness and Visibility of ASEM", and "ASEM's Potential and Future". After each session, participants exchanged views on how Mongolia can maximize the benefits of hosting ASEM. Key recommendations included focusing on increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and marketing Mongolian culture while hosting the Summit.
"We are living in an era of Trans-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific cooperation, and with ASEM, there could be a Eurasian political project, from which Mongolia could greatly benefit," said Prof. Dr. Bersick. He also presented the media analysis of 'How Asia is seen by Europe', conducted by Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), KAS and academia partners.
Mongolian Ambassador delivers ASEP9 invitation Japan Diet upper house president
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary S.Khurelbaatar paid courtesy call on the President of the House of Councillors of Japanese parliament Mr Masaaki Yamazaki February 3 to deliver an invitation to the Ninth Asia Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP9), which will run in Ulaanbaatar this April 21-22.
The President of the House of Councillors expressed a satisfaction with the ever-growing strategic ties of Mongolia and Japan, and pledged to put more efforts on activating inter-parliamentary exchange.
The Ambassador Mr Khurelbaatar said Mongolia and Japan have been efficiently collaborating in bilateral, regional and international levels, and added that ASEP9 expects extended delegation of high-rank officials from Japan.
Austria to deport illegal Mongolian migrants
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Austrian government declared last Saturday that it decided to deport migrants who come from Mongolia, Morocco, Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia and Georgia. The government plans to make 50 thousand deportations in the course of the next three years. These six are the safe countries that have no ongoing chaos and political instability.
Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that the Mongolian side has not any authority over this situation, as the issue of returning migrants is within full powers of a country's government.
The Austrian government will give 500 EUR to each of migrants who leave the country within ten days, if the recalled migrants exceed this period, they will be deported.
As of today, approximately 125 thousand Mongolian citizens are living in 58 countries.
Mongolian Flag presented to Budapest Museum
February 3 (news.mn) On 1st February, the Ambassador to Hungary, T.Gandi presented the Mongolian national flag and a certificate to Mr. Balogh Laszlo, the director of Budapest Flag Museum. Ambassador Gandi said: "This flag has been used at the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – so the it is a part of the history of the Ministry."
Director Balogh Laszlo expressed his appreciation for the gift of the flag and requested that the gratitude of the museum be conveyed to Mongolian Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren.
Mr Lazlo noted that they organize an exhibition annually in co-operation with the foreign embassies in Budapest. This year it will be held in November 2016 and will feature a section introducing Mongolia.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Our state flag goes to Budapest's Museum of Flags – Montsame, February 3
Malaysian media wrongly accuses Mongolians of involvement in drug crimes
February 3 (news.mn) Various websites have provided information saying that some Mongolians, living in Malaysia have been accused of drug related offences. Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that this information is incorrect. The last drug related case involving Mongolian citizens in Malaysia occurred in 2013. That case took place in January 2013 and involved three Mongolian, two of whom were released after being proved innocent; the third is still in Malaysia under investigation.
Mongolia receives World Heritage certificate for Burkhan Khaldun Mountain
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) President Ts.Elbegdorj Wednesday handed to related authorities the certificates from the UNESCO, certifying that the Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and surrounding it sacred lands have been registered as a World Heritage.
The certificates were received by Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO L.Purevsuren, Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences L.Gantomor, Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg, Governor of Khentii aimag J.Oyunbaatar, and Governor of Tov aimag D.Bayarbat.
President said that he has received the certificates during his recent stay in Paris.
Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and surrounding it area, residing across Khentii and Tov (central) aimags, were registered as a World Heritage by UNESCO July 8 of 2015. Out of ten main criteria for selecting a potential world heritage, the Burkhan Khaldun satisfied the following: being a historic landmark representing an important stage of history of humanity; having its name mentioned and described in history booksl and having enormous imprints on the people's traditions, their fundamental ideology, beliefs, arts and literature, said the President.
Mongolia has four World Heritages so far: banks of Uvs Lake as a natural heritage, Orkhon valley as a cultural landmark, petroglyphic complexes of the Mongolian Altai, and the Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and surrounding it sacred areas as cultural heritage.
Mongolian intangible heritages such as Morin khuur (horse-head fiddle, the national musical instrument), long song, Mongolian Naadam festival, eagle hunting, Mongolian Ger (national dwelling), and knuckle bone shooting game had been listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages.
The list of cultural heritages in immediate need of protection includes Mongolian epic poem, folklore dance, khoomii (throat singing), bagpipe folklore art and Mongolian calligraphy.
How much do we need to celebrate Tsagaan Sar?
February 3 (gogo.mn) Mongolian Tsagaan Sar /Lunar New Year/ is fast approaching and there are left few days before the festivities.
Mongolians have tradition to greet the new year with big feast table symbolizing prosperity and success in the coming year. But this tradition is hitting hard financially and for the most households burdens their pockets much.
Last year, we tried to calculate the Tsagaan Sar expenditure of a household with the average income.
Thus, we deliver you the prices for products used widely during the festivities.
Uuts /lamb loin/. Price for Uuts is ranging between MNT 80,000 - 220,000 at the markets. Uvchuu or lamb sternum is at MNT 6500-7000 for per kg.
An average kg for uvchuu amounted to 16-17kg. Besides, boiling the uuts at restaurants is at MNT 60,000 and individuals is at MNT 25,000-30,000
Additional minor costs are associated with gifts for every visitors and totals the gifts budget to MNT 600,000. The above costs total to MNT 1.232.000 on average. Last year, our estimated total cost for Tsagaan Sar was MNT 1 324 000.
The number is not universal for all the households nationwide and it may differ per household. We tried to calculate the average spending for the household with average income.
How does the new 10-point traffic violation system work?
February 3 (gogo.mn) From February 1st, 2016, every driver received 10 points which are removed in case of committing traffic violations. According to the violation point system, except 1-5 points are to be removed, fines are to be imposed depending on level of violation.
A driver is not allowed to drive a vehicle if all 10 points are diminished. If so, the driver must attend in driving course and will be again awarded 10 points after passing exam according to related regulations. Also, points awarded for a driver currently forfeited of driving are not effective according to the law.
Adoption of violation point system aims to prevent traffic accident and violations, reduce volume of damage, improve drivers' responsibility and encourage them to drive in civil manner.
Obviously, if you comply with the law and do not violate regulations, you still keep your 10 points. Please see from following list which incidents diminish 10 points on driving record.
INCIDENTS TO DIMINISH ONE POINT AND PENALTY
1. If driver allows someone without driving license to ride a vehicle - MNT 192,000
2. If riding a vehicle when physically tired not to drive safely or sick or allows someone who is in same condition - MNT 48,000 and MNT 19,200
3. If driver not using seat belt – MNT 9,600
4. If driver transporting passengers not using seat belt – MNT 9,600
5. If breaking traffic light rules or gesture order by traffic police – MNT 19,200
6. If breaking rules of one way road – MNT 19,200
7. If breaking rules of transporting passenger or freight – MNT 96,000, 192,000
INCIDENTS DIMINISH TWO POINTS AND PENALTY
8. If found driving different category of vehicle without proper license: exception doing driving practice – MNT 192,000
9. If allowing someone drunk or on intoxicating drug to ride a vehicle –MNT 96,000
10. If riding a vehicle without official number or hides its number on intention –MNT 96,000
11. If not fulfilling his duties after committing traffic accidents – MNT 96,000
12. If overtaking other vehicles or attempting to do in restricted area–MNT 19,200
13. If breaking speed limit – MNT 19,200
14. If not allowing person to pass pedestrian crossing– MNT 9,600 төгрөг
15. If riding a vehicle with break system and steering wheel function problems, damaged trailer wiring or damaged front lights in limited view or night time–MNT 48,000
INCIDENTS TO DIMINISH THREE POINTS AND PENALTY
16. If breaking rules of passing through railroad crossing – MNT 48,000
17. If violating regulations related to traffic light and siren – MNT 96,000
INCIDENTS TO DIMINISH FIVE POINTS AND PENALTY
18. If committing traffic accident by violating traffic safety law
Podcast: Why Sky Burials Are Vanishing in Mongolia
In this episode of Generation Anthropocene, urbanization and environmental decline put a sacred ritual for the dead at risk
February 3 (Smithsonian Magazine) In this episode of Generation Anthropocene, student reporter Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which the bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns on her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual.
Link to article (and audio)
Minister Battsereg and ADB Representative Discuss Tuul River Rehabilitation Project
Ulaanbaatar, February 3 (MONTSAME) Mongolia's Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Batttsereg Wednesday met Mr Robert Schoellhammer, the Country-Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Mongolia.
They discussed feasibility for a project on rehabilitating the Tuul River, a technical and economic assistance to this project, and a working out of a draft of soft loan.
The Tuul river occupies its important place in economy and eco-system. Within the project, feasibility of which launched in 2014, works are supposed such as studying the administrative structure located in the river's basin, increasing the administrative potential, performing a monitoring over levels of underground and surface waters and their quality near the river, boosting green development of the UB city, furnishing and protecting the areas on the river bank. Measures will also be taken for determining causes of the river pollution as well.
At the meeting, the Minister expressed a satisfaction with an expansion of the Mongolia-ADB cooperation. He also noted that any projects and programmes must be followed by an improvement of the national potential.
UB announces full tourist program for 2016
February 3 (news.mn) In the framework of the "Ulaanbaatar Welcomes You" program, which is run by the City Administration, many cultural and traditional events have been held. One of them was the "Danshig Naadam- Khuree Tsam" religious and cultural event, which was held in August 2015 in Khui Doloo Khudag. Yesterday, the organizers of the "Danshig Naadam-Khuree Tsam" provided information about the event planned for 2016.
This year, the "Danshig Naadam-Khuree Tsam" will take place 0n 6th-7th August. In the framework of the event, 500 monks will undertake a religious ceremony and 300 artists will perform a contortion festival entitled "Legend of Mountain and Water". There will also be ethnic musical with traditional and modern instruments on Chinggis Square. In accordance with tradition, the national wrestling, horse racing, and archery competition will be held in Khui Doloon Khudag. The organizers noted that, the number of tourists coming to UB has increased by 3%-6%, as the result of the "Ulaanbaatar Welcomes You" program.
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