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Thursday, March 24, 2016

[Yet another low for MNT; SMI worser but slower; is VAT law too harsh for small biz?; Indonesia exempts visas; and Mongolian Saturday pulls out]

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Wednesday, March 24, 2016

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

ASEM 11

110 delegates confirmed attendance at ASEP9

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) The working group--in charge of the Ninth Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership meeting's (ASEP9) organization in Ulaanbaatar this April 21-23--met Wednesday to discuss a preparation progress.

More than 110 delegates from 30 countries and the European Parliament have confirmed their attendance at the ASEP9, said B.Boldbaatar, secretary-general of the State Great Khural Secretariat.

The group had sent official invitations to the Chairpersons of 51 parliaments and two international organizations.

Link to article

 

ASEM cars are here

March 23 (news.mn) The preparation for ASEM is now well underway – it is reported that the 52 Toyota Prius-30 cars are currently being delivered. These are considered as combining energy efficiency with style….and of course value-for-money. As we reported, these vehicles are being exempt from normal tax requirements (customs, VAT etc). These cars will be used by the police in motorcades.

During the initial government discussions, there was debate about procuring luxury cars for ASEM – this, however, would have been very expensive. The Toyota Prius-30 was considered as a suitable compromise. Following the ASEM Summit these vehicles will be sold or transferred to local police stations.

Link to article

 

Int'l Market

Mongolian Mining Loan Nonpayment Triggers Cross-Default on Bonds

By David Yong

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian Mining Corp. didn't make principal and interest payments on a $200 million loan facility and wasn't able to get a temporary waiver from banks, triggering a cross-default on its bonds.

The miner failed to make the payments on the loan facility taken from BNP Paribas SA and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. in March 2014, and didn't get a waiver from the lenders, according to a stock exchange filing. The situation constitutes a cross-default event in the terms of other indebtedness including its $600 million of 8.875 percent notes, it said.

Miners worldwide are facing a cash crunch amid a slump in commodity prices to the lowest since 1999, with coal having lost 60 percent in value in the past five years. Asian peers including PT Berau Coal Energy, Winsway Enterprises Holdings Ltd. and Hidili Industry International Development Ltd. Have reneged on their dollar bonds as China's slowdown crimped demand for the fuel used in firing up steel plants.

"The development is not surprising given the distressed state of the company," said Trung Nguyen, a credit analyst in Singapore at Lucror Analytics Pte. "It has been burning cash rather fast when coal prices keep declining. We expect bondholders to take a big haircut when the company restructures its debt."

Proposed Forbearance

A call to the main line of Mongolian Mining went unanswered.

The 8.875 percent March 2017 notes traded at 18.3 cents on the dollar to yield 302 percent as of 9:50 a.m. in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg-compiled prices. The securities have lost about 14 cents this year, having already crashed by 75 cents in the preceding three years. They were sold at par, or 100 cents, in 2012.

Mongolian Mining said it hasn't received any notice from the lenders or bondholders demanding immediate repayment, according to the filing. The company, which took the loan facility to repay another debt, has proposed forbearance agreements with the banks, and will discuss the matter with the steering committee of the note holders and their advisers, it said.

"Lenders will find it increasingly difficult to keep extending the term of the existing facilities, while there is little hope of turning the company around under the heavy debt load," said Nguyen of Lucror Analytics. "Perhaps by not extending the facilities, and forcing a debt restructuring, the company can emerge with a healthier balance sheet and can start to focus on its operation."

(BN)

 

TRQ dropped 8.66% Wednesday to US$2.53, 6.93% to C$3.36

Turquoise Hill Sector Outperform Rating Reaffirmed by Scotiabank, Target Price C$5.25

March 23 (MarketBeat) Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TSE:TRQ)'s stock had its "sector perform" rating restated by equities research analysts at Scotiabank in a research report issued on Monday, Market Beat reports. They presently have a C$5.25 price objective on the stock. Scotiabank's target price would suggest a potential upside of 45.43% from the stock's previous close.

Link to article

 

Turquoise Hill Sells 0.15% SouthGobi Stake at HK$1.548 a Share, 17.8% Left

March 23 –

Link to disclosure

 

Entrée Gold Announces Appointment of Stephen Scott as President and Chief Executive Officer

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - March 22, 2016) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX: ETG) (NYSE MKT: EGI) (FRANKFURT: EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") announces that Stephen Scott has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company effective April 1, 2016. Mr. Scott has been acting as the interim Chief Executive Officer since November 16, 2015. Concurrently with the appointment, Mr. Scott will be appointed to the Company's Board of Directors.

Entrée's Chairman, Lord Howard, stated: "We are very pleased that Stephen has assumed this leadership role on a permanent basis. Stephen brings with him over twenty five years of global experience in all mining industry sectors. Stephen's project management and execution experience will be an important asset in creating shareholder value as the Company positions itself for future growth."

Prior to joining Entrée, Mr. Scott was the President of Minenet Advisors, a capital markets and management advisory consultancy providing a broad range of advice and services to clients relating to planning and execution of capital markets transactions, strategic planning, generation and acquisition of projects, and business restructuring. Between 2000 and 2014, he held various global executive positions with Rio Tinto and currently serves on the board of directors of a number of public and private mining companies.

Link to release

 

XAM closed +14.3% Wednesday to A$0.16

Proactive Spotlight CEO Sessions in April brings Xanadu Mines Ltd, Elk Petroleum Ltd, Neometals Ltd, Genex Power Ltd

March 23 (Proactive Investors) Proactive Investors is delighted to invite you to attend Proactive's Spotlight CEO Investor Sessions in Melbourne and Sydney in April.

Registrations are already filling up, so you better be quick.

Melbourne Investor Sessions, Tuesday, 12th April

Sydney Investor Sessions, Wednesday, 13th April

Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX:XAM) is actively exploring in the fourth most endowed copper province globally, in the world-class south Gobi, Mongolia. Add to this a streak of bonanza grade gold hits in the Dornogovi Province. Exploration news flow will remain strong in coming months.

Link to release

 

Insider Selling: Khan Resources Director Sells C$62,780 in Stock

March 23 (MarketBeat) Khan Resources Inc. (TSE:KRI) Director Marc Charles Henderson sold 50,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, March 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of C$0.77, for a total value of C$38,500.00.

Marc Charles Henderson also recently made the following trade(s):

·         On Thursday, March 17th, Marc Charles Henderson sold 31,000 shares of Khan Resources stock. The shares were sold at an average price of C$0.78, for a total value of C$24,180.00.

Link to article

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 +0.26%, ALL +0.11%, Turnover 5.4 Million Shares

March 23 (MSE) --

Link to report

 

Major Shareholders Launch Tender Offer for Remaining 8% Stake in Mashin Mekhanizm JSC

March 23 -- Accordance with the Clause No.: 57.1 of Company Law of Mongolia, the Clause No.:22.1 of Securities Law of Mongolia and the Clause No.:3.1 of the "Regulation of making offer to buy company's shares", joint interest party including Dariijav.P, Jargalsaikhan.J, Ulziisaikhan.J and Delgersaikhan.J which holds 92 percent or 53,094 shares of "Mashin Mekhanizm" JSC is offering tender to buy 4,914 shares from small shareholders with MNT150.00 per share.

Contact information:

E-mail: jamsdelger@gmail.com

Tel: 91914616

Brokerage Company: "Monsec" Securities Company, tel - 70153090

Link to release

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Economy

Historic low 2,048.62/USD set March 22, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, March 23 Close

3/23

3/22

3/21

3/18

3/17

3/16

3/15

3/14

3/11

3/10

3/9

3/7

3/4

3/3

3/2

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/611b76b6-2b0b-4a23-a444-02f9cb3dd75f.png

USD

2,049.36

2,048.62

2,048.21

2,047.66

2,046.21

2,041.62

2,044.82

2,046.52

2,047.92

2,048.18

2,047.00

2,045.88

2,042.34

2,040.97

2,037.59

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d90344bf-7731-47f3-bffe-93a4596232a2.png

EUR

2,293.13

2,303.16

2,304.75

2,310.37

2,303.11

2,263.65

2,273.23

2,275.22

2,282.41

2,245.62

2,244.13

2,244.13

2,235.85

2,218.13

2,215.06

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/db4fa868-a5a2-4a14-9cd9-ef3b0081caa7.png

JPY

18.23

18.34

18.38

18.39

18.31

17.97

18.09

17.99

18.01

18.04

18.20

17.99

17.93

17.88

17.83

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/663d9297-6b7b-421b-a2c7-022882ec5691.png

GBP

2,903.33

2,938.85

2,946.45

2,959.38

2,916.87

2,878.99

2,916.22

2,937.47

2,921.87

2,906.16

2,904.28

2,901.16

2,892.77

2,877.05

2,844.07

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RUB

30.27

30.26

29.79

29.90

29.80

28.73

28.95

29.27

29.14

28.82

28.24

28.33

27.85

27.55

27.61

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ceaa3227-2aea-4575-9f0f-9374539b6e52.png

CNY

315.48

315.75

315.81

316.50

314.98

313.08

314.16

315.10

315.31

314.34

314.17

314.03

313.08

311.90

311.01

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KRW

1.77

1.77

1.76

1.76

1.75

1.71

1.72

1.72

1.72

1.70

1.69

1.70

1.69

1.68

1.66

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/020a3b13-d459-4bf3-b596-f93ff6442059.png

SGD

1,499.39

1,505.51

1,505.65

1,509.13

1,501.09

1,477.51

1,483.04

1,487.46

1,488.85

1,483.01

1,478.03

1,480.70

1,476.43

1,464.69

1,452.62

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,564.28

1,565.92

1,565.73

1,573.91

1,568.46

1,526.05

1,531.70

1,542.39

1,544.43

1,543.23

1,526.19

1,532.84

1,522.09

1,519.94

1,514.43

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AUD

1,555.77

1,556.03

1,554.08

1,562.47

1,560.44

1,521.11

1,526.36

1,539.70

1,536.14

1,528.66

1,524.50

1,515.18

1,505.10

1,493.89

1,471.04

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ce22f7ae-6e61-4961-b249-a66ee1a47c1a.png

HKD

264.19

264.21

264.14

263.99

263.75

263.03

263.51

263.75

263.83

263.76

263.61

263.35

262.90

262.51

262.09

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9775661f-ece0-420b-843d-58b1b4b23546.png

CHF

2,100.72

2,111.33

2,108.95

2,114.81

2,097.92

2,064.75

2,074.80

2,073.90

2,076.79

2,052.80

2,049.05

2,053.17

2,057.26

2,045.16

2,040.75

Bank USD rates at time of sending: TDB (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,050), Khan (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,050), Golomt (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,050), XacBank (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,050), State Bank (Buy ₮2,043 Sell ₮2,050)

MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

BoM issues ₮139 billion 1-week bills at 12%, total outstanding +17.5% to ₮516.25 billion

March 23 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 139 billion at a weighted interest rate of 12.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

BoM FX auction: US$10.2m sold at 2,049.11, CNY21m at 315.2, accepts $3.5m MNT swap offers

March 22 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on March 22th, 2016, the BOM has received buying bid offers of USD and CNY. The BOM sold CNY 21.0 million in a closing rate of MNT 315.20 and USD 10.2 million in a closing rate of MNT 2049.11.

The BOM accepted the MNT swap agreement buying bid offers of USD 3.5 million and did not accept the USD swap agreement selling bid offers of USD 20.0 million.

Link to release

 

Embargoed till 25 March

Mongolia SMI signals slower but marked deterioration in business conditions in March

      Employment levels continued to drop at a fast rate

      Weaker but rapid declines in sales and market growth

      Deflationary pressures ease but remain substantial

March 23 (World Economics) Up to 33.4 in March from 31.8 in February, the World Economics Headline Sales Managers' Index (SMI) for Mongolia pointed to a slower, although still marked deterioration in overall business conditions across the country. That said, the average for the first quarter as a whole (32.4) was the steepest seen in the three years of survey history. The SMI provides the most up-to-date monthly assessment of economic activity in the country. It is derived from an average of the business confidence, market growth, product sales, prices charged and staffing indicators. An index above 50 indicates growth, while an index below 50 indicates contraction.

Despite easing for the third consecutive month, sentiment regarding the short-term outlook for activity remained negative in March. The Business Confidence Index posted below the 50.0 no-change mark for the thirtieth month in a row, with panellists citing lower raw material prices, weaker demand conditions and rising unemployment as key factors behind the negative outlook.

March data also saw slower contractions in both product sales and market growth. However, the latest figures continued to indicate poor overall demand conditions. The Product Sales Index registered the weakest decline since last October while the Market Growth Index decreased at the slowest pace since December.

On the price front, the Prices Charged Index declined at a slightly softer rate compared to its value in February. The rate of decline in prices charged was still solid overall with sales managers commenting on weak client demand and lower raw material costs.

By contrast, employment continued to decline at the end of the first quarter, with the Staffing Index falling at the quickest pace since the panel started in March 2013. Cost-reduction attempts were mentioned by surveyed companies signalling lower staffing levels.

Summary

World Economics Chief Executive Ed Jones commented:

"The latest SMI survey for Mongolia indicated that business conditions across the economy continued to deteriorate sharply. However, March figures showed a general slowdown in the contraction of economic activity, with business confidence, market growth and product sales all falling at weaker rates. Prices charged also dropped at a slightly slower pace. Meanwhile, employment levels declined at the quickest pace since the records began in March 2013."

Link to World Economics site

 

2016 Mongolia Economic Forum Timeline

March 23 (gogo.mn) We bring you information on the previous forums in case you missed it.

1st ECONOMIC FORUM: FEBRUARY 8-9, 2010

Slogan: "We can do together"

Sessions:

2nd ECONOMIC FORUM MARCH 3-4, 2011

Slogan: "Together towards development"

Sessions:

3rd ECONOMIC FORUM MARCH 24-25, 2012

Slogan: "Together towards development"

Sessions:

4th ECONOMIC FORUM MARCH 4-5, 2013

Slogan: Mongolian Brand

Sessions:

5th ECONOMIC FORUM MARCH 24-25, 2014

Slogan: Made in Mongolia

Sessions:

6th ECONOMIC FORUM: APRIL 2-3, 2015

Slogan: Building credibility

For more detailed information on Mongolia Economic Forum 2015 please visit HERE.

7th ECONOMIC FORUM: MARCH 30 - 31, 2016

Slogan: Lessons Learned, Facing Challenges, Solutions Pending

GoGo Mongolia will bring you 2 days coverage from State Palace in March 30, 31.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

State Rental Apartments: Registration begins for elderly and newly-weds

March 23 (news.mn) The registration of the State Rental Apartments in Ulaanbaatar started on Monday 21st March. On that day, 471 elderly people queued, outside the State Apartment Corporation (SAC) in order to submit their applications; some of them had spent the previous night waiting outside the building in cars. The SAC has received the applications of 420 elderly people; however, only 183 of them were considered to have met the requirements. The remaining 237 forms were returned in order for the applicants to re-do them. The registration of elderly people was due to conclude on Tuesday 22nd.

From today, the registration of young couples, who married before 1st January 2016, and who are younger than 35 years old will start. Those people who could not register on the day scheduled or who have not had the possibility to collect all the necessary documents will have a second possibility to register on 31stMarch-1st April.

Link to article

 

Speaker continues 5 aimag tour with Arkhangai

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Within his local tour, the Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Tuesday worked in Arkhangai aimag, getting familiarized with a branch of the State Bank of Mongolia (SBM) and an implementation of the "Good herder" national progamme. He also legged the administration office of the aimag.

Rendering all kinds of banking services, the SBM's branch in this province bears 19 centers and 20 units employing 99 workers, said B.Soyolmaa, the branch director. The branch's total credit package is 25.4 billion Togrog, while a size of accumulated capital is MNT 17 billion, she added.

"As of today, the branch has given loans of 204.7 million Togrog to 60 consumers. Now we are studying a chance of giving loans to 30 herders, MNT 80 million each," she said, and then talked about the mortgage loan service and reducing of the interest to five percent.

At the administration office, the Speaker heard information about present situation in the aimag and received a request from the aimag's authorities to give its Erdenebulgan soum a status of a city.

After this, the Speaker got acquainted with the "Tamir" apartment town in Erdenebulgan soum. With 356 flats, this town is fully connected to engineering pipelines and water sources.

During the tour, Z.Enkhbold was accompanied by L.Erdenechimeg MP, a head of the Standing committee on environment, food and agriculture; N.Batbayar, Ya.Sanjmyatav MPs; authorities of aimags and other officials.

Before Arkhangai, the Speaker had worked in Ovorkhangai, Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai and Zavkhan aimags.

Link to article

 

Inspired by Zaya - S.Borgil, National Labour Party

March 23 (gogo.mn) "Future of Mongolia is not just mining. Instead I believe our future is dependent on educated, intelligent and multifaceted youth". I want to proudly introduce those talented and educated young professionals to others.

Editor E.Ariunzaya

We are delivering the next episode of the Inspired by Zaya talk show hosted entirely in English language, encouraging and inspiring the future of Mongolia to commit to learning English language and enhance possibilities in life. I meet and interview with many nice people.

This episode features S.Borgil, Deputy Head of National Labour Party. He is a warrior and he has big purpose. His passion to develop his country is strong. 

He had earned rich life experience in USA. In scope of social responsibility, I aimed at promoting their good deeds. S.Borgil is definitely one of the young representatives Mongolia should be proud of. 

For the full episode please click here.

Link to article

 

The value of human life in Nalaikh

By Allyson Seaborn (@allysonseaborn)

This article was originally published by The Mongolian Observer Magazine.

March 23 (UB Post) Exposure to fear and hardship increases your resilience, but it doesn't increase your chances of survival when the walls of a mine shaft are crumbling around you. Resilience means nothing when you cannot breathe and are slowly suffocating dozens of meters below the surface of the Earth.

I have thought a lot about fear and what dying must be like since my visit to an illegal coal mine at Nalaikh. I have pondered over what it would be like to perish under mountains of rubble – perhaps slowly, perhaps quickly depending on the sheer force of the material burying you. It would be pitch black and nobody would be able to hear your final scream.

Before cramming myself into the rusty vessel which resembled a giant English bathtub from the 19th century, I glance at the dodgy steel cable which will soon guide me downwards. It's attached to an archaic looking winch. Soon, a man will press a lever and we'll descend down the precipitous mine shaft. It's such a small, but ominous opening into the Earth, to where the coal lies. The impulsive part of me orders me not to think about it too much and tells me to just squeeze my eyes tight. I'm freezing cold as I wait for the miner who has volunteered to accompany me on this frightful journey. I'm relieved when I feel him jump in behind me, his boots pressing at my back.

It's just at the start of the descent, perhaps only two meters in, when I start to panic as the tunnel closes in on me. I can barely hear myself shouting, "STOP!" and I realize my companion cannot hear me. Even if he could, I don't know if it would have been possible for him to halt our descent. If we stopped, what next? Sit crying in a dark tunnel? There is no stopping. This is not a game or a joy ride, and I deeply regret my decision. Upon reflection, this has been the most frightening experience of my life. I am a mouse in a deadly, bleak hole. I feel the thundering grind of the earth underneath the steel bottom of the tub I sit in and hope the winch is strong. I curse profanely and am paralyzed by fear – fear at its pinnacle. This is fear I will never be able to shake. Further and further, my eyes now closed tightly, just waiting. Then, slowing down and finally halting with a dull thud.

I know we've reached the bottom because my head jolts sharply, the tub is facing down a near vertical slope and I peer into a dimly lit cavern. I feel a pat on my shoulder from behind, a touch that signals I'm going to be ok and can get out now.

"Let's go. Keep it together, Allyson," I mutter to myself and tear my coat open on a sharp bit of steel. My legs are shaking as I stagger to my feet. Someone is helping me and guiding me. The intense panic has subsided somewhat as I step onto the coal platform 40 meters below to gaze at three men who are holding picks and shovels. They adjust their lanterns and look bewildered by my presence, and then I hear their warm Mongolian greetings and look into their surprised, wide eyes.

I touch the jet black walls speckled with brown and grey dirt, where jagged bits of coal beg to be hacked away and unearthed.  Everything around me looks shiny and wet against the glow of the faint light, and I run my fingers over the coal face. The cavern is about 25 square meters in area, with varying heights and nooks all around. A toothpick-like beam supports the ceiling in the highest part above us, three old logs and a bit of wire. There isn't a hope in hell of this beam holding anything up in the event of a collapse. I'm no mining safety expert, but realize the futility of the ridiculous support mechanism above me.

The miners with me do not complain. They explain. They have jobs. They're grateful. They know it's a dangerous occupation, but what choice do they have? And this is how it works: you chip away at the walls of coal and fill up the tub, and then send the tub full of coal back to the surface. Repeat day in and day out, and each morning pray it's not your day to die.

On average, about 15 people perish out here every year. The majority of these victims are young miners between the ages of 15 and 35, most with families, hence, the number of widows and fatherless children in Nalaikh. They either suffocate or are buried alive. Many of the shafts are nearly 100 meters deep and accidents occur frequently in the death traps like the one I am in today.

Only a handful of the of 200 mine shafts active in Nalaikh are legally authorized, yet mining remains a major source of income for the local economy, and ironically, Nalaikh coal heats half of Ulaanbaatar in the bitterly cold winter months.  Despite the vehement opposition of residents, it became illegal to mine in the Nalaikh mines in mid 2013 due to the increase in casualties. You cannot, however, support your family if you abide by the law. It's a truly bizarre situation intertwined with politics, greed, and corruption. I'm filled with admiration and compassion for the coal miners of Nalaikh.

Logistically, yet unofficially, it works like this. Authorities have granted leases over the Nalaikh mines to locals. These locals, in turn, rent the shafts out to the coal miners who dig out the coal, pay their rent, and survive on whatever is left in terms of profit. There are between five to ten men at each hole – drivers, winch operators, and men armed with picks and shovels. No government has ever attempted to enforce the ban on illegal mining here, nor have they tried to provide advice or assisted with even the most minimal of safety standards. Nothing has been done to protect the lives of these miners, not by the Mongolian government, and certainly not by individuals who hold the leases on these death holes. Timber supports within the mines are considered to be an unnecessary cost, and each year the tunnels go deeper and deeper. Nobody seems to care. Life is cheap in Nalaikh it seems.

I am gasping for breath now. The blackened, haggard faces of the four men below with me appear concerned, but their smiles and cheery banter put me at ease. When I later think of it, I realize that perhaps they have acclimatized to the lack of oxygen. They could speak fluidly, even chuckle and joke as they worked. Beside me, a flimsy ventilation tube flaps endlessly as air is pumped down the shaft by a small fan positioned on the surface. It resembles one of those cheap pumps used to fill jumping castles at birthday parties and provides little air. When I hunch over to try and take a deeper breath, one of the miners puts the end of the tube to my face. I inhale and imagine this is the feeling a person with emphysema or a chronic lung condition has. It's the desperate feeling of wanting to fill your chest with oxygen, but not quite being able to do so. I guess this is what slowly suffocating to death feels like.

I've heard rumors that children also work in these mines. I don't see any kids when I'm down here today, but I did witness two young boys hauling sacks of coal on their shoulders earlier in the day. They were trudging along, only meters away from one of the pits closer to the main center of town. A friend tells me the children down the holes are called "sparrows" because their little voices sound like birds chirping.

I tumble onto my knees and one of the miners grabs my arm and helps me to my feet. I wonder how many children he has. Although his clothes are torn, his hands coarse and dry, and hair matted with black cake, I can still see the Mongolian twinkle in his eye and his perfect white teeth gleaming in the darkness. There is no fear in these eyes. He watches me curiously. Maybe he is glad for the break in his day. He's extremely gentle and kind and again tries to help me breathe by grabbing the ventilation tube for me. Part of the wall on the other side of the cave randomly begins to crumble. Perhaps these walls always crumble. The miners do not seem too alarmed, but I want to get the hell out of here now. It's been only ten minutes, but I feel the panic and claustrophobia setting in again.

The difference between the have and the have nots in Mongolia has never been so blindingly apparent to me. I've seen poverty, hardship, and desperation in this country, but working in conditions where life and death exist side by side is something I've not previously witnessed firsthand.

The coal miners help hoist me back into the giant tub – a tub that has no coal in it on this return journey.  All five of us ascend, and it's a lot less frightful going up than down. We travel upwards further and further and eventually I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Companionship must make this job easier, I realize. I feel so glad these brave, hardworking men surround me. In my eyes they are heroic.

For a reason which eludes me, I cannot help but embrace each of these miners when we reach the surface. This is not because we're good friends, but because I want them to know I am so very thankful that they watched over me. I wish they would throw down their picks and shovels and seal the death trap up behind them, but I know they cannot. They aren't sad or angry about their working conditions, and so I will be sad and angry on their behalf.  Nobody is looking after their safety, but this isn't of concern to them. They have no choice. They have no say in the matter. The men I met this day are just glad to be able to be making a living in a very tough situation. It's what they do. This is what the men, women, and children of Nalaikh have done for years and years. This is the reality.

I hope these coal miners of Nalaikh are all still alive and well when I return one day to see them again.

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Business

VAT Law is strangling small businesses, says NGOs

March 23 (UB Post) A conference titled "VAT Law Enforcement and Problems Faced by Entrepreneurs" was held last week by the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), entrepreneurs and NGOs.

The Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association and Mongolian Food Producers' Association attended the conference.

During the conference, representatives from NGOs stressed that the new VAT Law was "strangling" businesses and that it's causing them to close down. In response, MPP members said that they would discuss  it with their party and find a solution.

The revised VAT Law created a new reward system that gives taxpayers the opportunity to win money from a monthly lottery. Entrepreneurs claim that the new reward system is causing losses to businesses as people now choose to purchase products and receive services from businesses that give receipts.

What is VAT?

VAT, value-added tax, is a tax levied on final consumption. In other words, people pay taxes for using and purchasing a product. Commerce  and service businesses, on the other hand, are obliged to collect people's taxes and centralize it to the state budget. Any business with an annual turnover of 50 million MNT or more are registered as a VAT payer in accordance with the law.

Let's take a look at how VAT is collected using stages: flour factories, bakeries, stores and consumer.

A factory sets a price of 1,000 MNT per kg of flour, but sells it to a bakery for 1,100 MT after adding 100 MNT as VAT. It costs 1,400 MNT for the bakery to make a bread with the flour. The bakery adds 10 percent of the cost as VAT and supplies it to stores for 1,540 MNT. Finally, stores sell bread to consumers for 1,870 MNT. The total VAT paid to the state budget  from bread amounts to 170 MNT: 100 MNT paid by the factory, 40 MNT paid by the bakery, and 30 MNT by the store. You might be wondering why the bakery paid only 40 MNT in VAT. This is because the 100 MNT tax imposed when purchasing the flour for 1,100 MNT is deducted, leaving 40 MNT to go straight to the state.

The flour factory, bakery and store don't pay the bread's 170 MNT VAT. Instead, the customer pays all of it when they buy bread. In this case, VAT burdens residents rather than entrepreneurs.

How is VAT Law strangling businesses?

The VAT Law isn't something new that became effective this year. Mongolia already enacted this law and its revised version became effective from the beginning of 2016.

The main change in the VAT Law is the new reward system for taxpayers besides income registration of entities, as pointed out by the General Customs and Taxation Office. Unlike the old system, the new reward system enables taxpayers to cash back 20 percent of the tax they paid at the end of each year. This is viewed as a support to the public rather than a burden during the current economic difficulty. It can be said that the amount of VAT charged has actually dropped from 10 percent to eight percent.

Some people were against the new VAT Law when it was first proposed because they believed that the state was trying to record the public's income. State Inspector of the General Customs and Taxation Office S.Munkhtuul commented on this.

"We're not recording people's income. The law doesn't specify each person to register only their own receipts. They can register receipts of purchases made by their family or relatives from a single account. People's data will be used for statistical purposes only," she says.

President of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry B.Lkhagvajav spoke about the new reward system during a press conference.

"The public will get the opportunity to get prizes with the launching of the new VAT Law. Businesses need to meet technological conditions, or they will drop in their overall competitiveness in the market," said B.Lkhagvajav.

NGOs and entrepreneurs at the "VAT Law Implement and Problems Faced by Entrepreneurs" conference stated that the public now prefer stores and businesses that give receipts for their purchase. As explained, customers can get back 20 percent of the VAT they paid as well as get a chance to win a prize from the monthly lottery with the code on receipts. Entrepreneurs were certain that revenue of entities that don't hand out receipts will decrease and blamed it on the VAT Law.

However, the Law on Taxes states that it is mandatory for any individual or company running a business to have a standard cash register. Businesses can expand operations if they follow the law and enable customers to get their rightful benefits.

The government projected that the state budget revenue will increase by 140 billion MNT by implementing the revised VAT Law. This doesn't mean that extra tax will be imposed on the public and businesses. Instead, more tax revenue will be centralized to the state budget because the tax collection process will become more transparent and there will not be any loopholes allowing businesses to embezzle or launder taxpayers' money. Receipts have become a way to record the amount of tax paid by the public and guarantees that the money has gone to the state.

Financial statements and reports of January and February 2016 show that incomes of businesses are higher than last year's income. Reportedly, the amount of VAT paid to the state budget has increased since the revised VAT Law became effective. Experts explain that more transparency in the taxation system led to the increase. This implies that businesses used to embezzle VAT in the past.

Overall, analysts believe that the new VAT Law isn't strangling businesses. Entrepreneurs only need to follow the law and purchase a cash register. That way, they will not lose customers and might even help a customer win a lottery prize.

Source: Unuudur

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Borrowers call for transferring USD loans into MNT

March 23 (UB Post) On Monday, citizens T.Bayarkhuu, Ts.Shinebayar and G.Ganbat announced that they have initiated the 218.1 Movement to address the concerns of people and entities that took out loans in USD and are now seeing great losses due to drastic increases to the USD exchange rate.

Provision No. 218.1 of the Civil Law states that if currency rates appreciate or depreciate before a payment is due, the payment shall be adjusted to the currency rate set when the loan agreement was signed. The 218.1 Movement believes that because this provision is not being implemented, people and entities that took out loans in USD are seeing significant losses.

Citizen T.Bayarkhuu said, "Several years ago, the USD exchange rate stood at around 1,400 MNT. Even though a person took out a 20,000 USD (28 million MNT) loan a few years ago, and is still consistently repaying their debt, it is now an approximately 40 million MNT debt due to exchange rate discrepancies. This is directly impacted by the USD exchange rate increase, because the USD exchange rate equals over 2,050 MNT now. The provision of the Civil Law is not being implemented."

The movement's initiators have submitted a letter to President Ts.Elbegdorj, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold, and Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg calling for implementation of the provision and transferring the USD loans to MNT.

Their demand letter calls for the following actions:

-»Creating a working group from Mongol Bank, the Financial Regulatory Commission, Mongolian Bankers Association, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mongolian Employers Association, and representatives responsible for resolving the issue of transferring the USD loans to MNT loans in accordance with provision No. 218.1.

-»Mongol Bank and Mongolian Bankers Association should determine and approve the currency rate for transferring the USD loans to MNT loans at the rate that existed when the banks issued loans to borrowers.

-»Revising and renewing borrowers' agreements with banks after transferring loans from USD to MNT according to the exchange rate approved by the working group.

The 218.7 Movement noted that the USD exchange rate shouldn't exceed 1,470 MNT, which was the rate approved in 2015 following the amendments to the Law on Excise Tax. They also demanded that the working group monitor implementation of the changes and issue a public report on their progress every week.

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Annual Mongolian Geology and Exploration Conference on Mar 24-25

March 23 (gogo.mn) "Mongolian geology and exploration-2016" conference will be held on Mar 24-25 at Corporate Hotel and Convention Center. The conference was initiated in 2009 by the Mongolian Industrial Geologists Association. 

8th Mongolian geology and exploration conference is being organized by the Ministry of Mining, Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia, Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, Professional Inspection Agency, National University of Mongolia as well as University of Science and Technology.  

During the conference meetings provided with presentations covering topics on state policies in geology and mineral sector, ongoing research on geology and exploration sector, results of researches will be organized. Also in regards of started issuing exploration licenses, which had been stopped since 2010, specific discussion on difficulties facing by the state and the private sectors will be held. 

In scope of the conference, unique exhibits of the Museum of Mineral Resources and collector`s collections to be displayed to the public. 

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Premier visits "House Construction Factory-1"

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Within the "Hour for solutions" weekly meeting, on Wednesday, the Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg witnessed assembling works at the "House construction factory-1", which is being renewed in a scope of the "New great construction" program.

The renovation has taken investments of 23 million US dollars from a reserve of the "Chingis" bonds in the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) and a financing from the Russian Federation. Some 20 million Euros have been given from Germany's Commerzbank for purchasing equipment, said N.Monkhbat, DBM CEO. He added that experts of Germany's "Ebawe" are assembling the factory's equipment, this work is going with 90% so far.

"When the factory is commissioned, it will supply the national market with all kinds of construction materials, metal and concrete facilities. It will be also possible to produce slabs for 5,000 flats a year. But the project needs extra financing for the assembling. If the DBM gives USD 6.2 million, we are ready to make the factory in use," said B.Erdenebat, a manager of the "House construction factory-1" project.

After the reports, the Premier obliged the DBM CEO N.Monkhbat to calculate all financing given to the project and to show to the government. After determining the money for the project, the extra financing matter will be resolved.

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OT, ETT and Erdenet to present their procurement policy at Miner & Supplier Forum

March 23 (gogo.mn) Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Erdenet companies will present their procurement policy and procedures during Miner & Supplier Forum 2016.

Although Mongolia is in economic slump, $4.4 billion finance for Oyu Tolgoi's underground project was secured. And government's decision to use Gatsuurt deposit for economic purpose created positive expectations for supplier companies.

Mineral Resources and Mining Exchange is organizing "Miner & Supplier Forum 2016" on Friday, March 25th at 10:00 at "Chinggis Khaan" Hotel.

This forum is co-organized with Erdenes Mongol LLC and companies such as Oyu Tolgoi, Erdenes Tavantolgoi, Erdenet mining corporation, Baganuur, Shivee Ovoo will present their procurement policy, procedures to suppliers.

In Mongolia, there are some 2000 registered companies in mining sectors but only some 200 of them operate.

The forum is open and free-of-charge to suppliers.

For more information, please contact 77076999; 91911383 or visit minerandsupplier.infomine.mn

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U.S. to cooperate in supporting employment for people living with disabilities

March 23 (UB Post) Member of Parliament and Labor Minister of Mongolia G.Bayarsaikhan conducted a working visit to the United States on March 8 to 10 to initiate talks on cooperation with the U.S. in supporting the employment of people living with disabilities.

Delegates of the Labor Ministry of Mongolia met with Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith Heumann; Jennifer Sheehy, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor; Sue Swenson, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education; and other officials.

During their two-hour meeting, the parties introduced and discussed work that is being carried out to protect the rights of people living with disabilities and to support their employment.

Beginning the meeting, Minister G.Bayarsaikhan mentioned that 3.3 percent of Mongolia's population (99,500 people) are living with disabilities. The Minister spoke about work that the Government of Mongolia is implementing to create opportunities for these individuals to gain access to education and employment.

He noted that the Labor Ministry is doing a lot to improve the legal environment to implement the nation's policy to support employment, and added that the policy pays special attention to maintaining the implementation of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities and 1983's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Convention.

Minister G.Bayarsaikhan said, "Mongolia's current economic situation, affected by foreign factors and a drop in raw material prices in the global market, is causing difficulty in carrying out some programs and projects to support the employment of disabled persons. However, the Government of Mongolia did not deduct from the budget devoted to disabled persons, blaming economic deterioration."

Minister G.Bayarsaikhan stated Mongolia's interest in collaborating with the U.S. in several areas. In particular, he noted that Mongolia wants to work with the U.S. on establishing a joint information and survey center for people living with disabilities, to build a training and manufacturing center for their employment and skill development, and to cooperate on training and developing educators properly trained to work for these vocational pursuits. Stressing that vocational training centers must have specific training resources for students who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or physically disabled.

Minister L.Bayarsaikhan noted that 81 vocational training centers currently operate in Mongolia, training over 42,000 trainees in 193 professions, and 501 students are people living with disabilities. He mentioned that there is a lot to learn from the U.S. on offering specialized training, noting that the U.S. has rich experience in providing people living with disabilities with modified manuals, special tools, and equipment.

U.S. officials said that the unemployment rate of disabled persons living in the U.S. is twice as high as the unemployment rate of able-bodied  citizens. Judith Heumann added that the population of the U.S. is 310 million, and 54 million people are living with disabilities.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the U.S. and Mongolian representatives decided to establish a cooperation memorandum to support the employment of Mongolian people living with disabilities.

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Report: Mongolia's Vast Renewable Energy Resources Can Power Green Development

March 22 (Renewable Energy Magazine) Tapping Mongolia's vast renewable energy resources could boost energy security, reduce pollution, meet global climate commitments and grow the economy through regional electricity export, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency on Tuesday.

"Renewables Readiness Assessment: Mongolia," prepared jointly by IRENA in cooperation with the Ministry of Energy of Mongolia, finds that electricity output from the country's solar and wind resources alone could reach 15,000 terawatt-hours per year, the equivalent of more than 18 million tonnes of avoided coal.

The National Renewable Energy Center estimates that Mongolia's total renewable energy potential is 2.6 terawatts, a potentially huge resource base for electricity production and export. In the decades ahead, these could draw on the vast solar and wind potential of Mongolia's Gobi Desert.

"Mongolia has firmly underlined its commitment to green growth, particularly in support of the international effort to mitigate climate change," said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. "With abundant solar, wind and hydropower resources, the country possesses the domestic assets needed to develop sustainably, benefitting its economy, its people and the environment."

Today, seven per cent of installed power-generation capacity in Mongolia comes from renewables, mostly hydropower. But a policy currently in front of Parliament could boost the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20 per cent by 2023 and 30 per cent by 2030. Parliament has also recently adopted broad measures aimed at future sustainability including the Green Development Policy and the Law on Energy Conservation and Efficiency.

"This new legislation enables Mongolia to provide energy security and reliability, improve energy efficiency, pursue public-private partnerships and create a market-oriented framework for the sector," said H.E. Zorigt Dashzevag, Mongolia's minister of energy.

For additional information: International Renewable Energy Agency

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Diplomacy

President meets "Democratic Transitions in Asia" participants

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) President Ts.Elbegdorj received March 22 the delegation from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), who took part in the "Democratic Transition in Asia" international seminar, held March 21-22.

The delegation included Yves Leterme, the IDEA Secretary-General; Leena Rikkila Tamang, the IDEA regional director for Asia-Pacific; government officials and representatives of civil societies from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Myanmar, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Laos.

They asked the President about Mongolia's practices in strengthening democracy, achievements and challenges faced throughout the past 26 years, and the actions taken to share them and cooperate with other transitioning countries.

Y.Leterme noted that, for the last two days, delegates from over 10 countries shared experiences in developing democracy and exchanged views on electoral lessons and ways to organize fair and transparent elections.

Delegate from Afghanistan was speaking highly of democracy in Mongolia for its rapid and consistent growth.

Ts.Elbegdorj congratulated the participants and stated that Mongolia is becoming a role model in the region for its democracy history, legal grounds for free election and electoral system. "Democracy is favorable for Mongolia people's interest. Mongolia's ways of thinking is different than those of its two great neighbors. For instance, the mentality in China is that the state should be powerful in order for the people to have power, while Mongolian mentality is that the power of a nation can only be achieved with powerful people", he said.

He also highlighted some of the recent democratic achievements of Mongolia, such as the "glass account" regulation of transparency in public sector, the fingerprint registration of citizens, as well as the sharing of electoral experiences with Kyrgyzstan and other new democracies.

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"Democratic Transition in Asia" delegates visit General Election Commission

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) On Tuesday, foreign delegates who participated in the "Democratic Transition in Asia" international seminar here, visited the headquarters of the General Election Commission (GEC).

They heard presentations about the election experiences, legal regulation for elections, a structure, organization and functions of the GEC, and facilities of elections. They also saw paper ballot counting machines.

The above seminar brought together representatives of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Nepal, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, East Timor and Sri Lanka.

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FM received newly accredited Italian Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Foreign Minister L.Purevsuren met with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Italian Republic to Mongolia H.E. Ettore Francesco Sequi upon the  latter's presentation of his credentials on March 22.

L.Purevsuren noted an importance of expanding and developing the historic relations between the two countries by successfully implementing the visits planned for the near future, of strengthening trade, economic and cultural ties, and wished the Ambassador successes in his mission.

The Ambassador said the Italian side attaches an importance to our bilateral relations and emphasized the opportunities to enhance cooperation in various sectors including economy, culture and defense.

He also said the Italian side is working actively to open an Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.

After this, the sides agreed on starting a preparation for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Italian Republic, to be marked in 2020.

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Health, Education

President receives Stanford University scholars on Mongolia visit

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) The leader of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received Tuesday scholars and researchers of the Stanford University.

The guests asked him about the democracy, the ways Mongolia gained achievements, people's livelihood, economic market, and life of herders.

Talking about the history of the Mongolian democratic revolution that started in 1990 after a 70-year socialist regime, Mr Elbegdorj said the Mongolians always cherish freedom, so the democratic revolution ran peacefully.

He said the private sector dominates the national economy, a corruption index has been ceasing according to the Transparency International organization.

"State budget, finance and expenses have been transmitted into a 'glass' system, people can now supervise them though social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Exploitation of mineral resources is now controlled by people as well. If a local inhabitants protest the exploitation, its permission could be cancelled," he said. Civil halls have been created to activate the direct democracy and a civil role in state affairs, he added.

A number of livestock reached 50 million this year, this can boost the industry of agricultural products as well as organic medicine factory.

A Mongolian scholar, he went on, has invented a calcium preparation produced from horse bones, Japan already proposed collaborating in the production of this preparation, he said.

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Culture, Society

UN event held on abolishing malpractice of using "mongoloid" term

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) In frames of the ongoing sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York, the Permanent Representative Office of Mongolia organized on Monday an event called "Abolishing malpractice of using the 'mongoloid' term defining people with Down syndrome: Meaning of the word 'Mongol'".

This event has become the very first measure abroad aimed to run discussions on abolishing the malpractice of this term among the UN members, related units, specialized organs, researchers and NGOs.

The event, chaired by Mr S.Sukhbold, the Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, has attracted Uuganaa Ramsay, author of a book about the malpractice of the term "mongoloid"; Dr Nata Menabde, executive director of the New York City branch of the World Health Organization (WHO); and Mr Andrw Boys, the Director of "Down Syndrome International" organization.

The attendees were impressed by a report by Ramsay whose child aged only for three months due to Down syndrome in Scotland, about how the malpractice usage of word "mongoloid" affects the reputation of people, their psychology, their community and society, in general.

"It is totally unfair to call the people with Down syndrome as mongoloid. This is not a scientific term," said Dr Nata Menabde and expressed a readiness to collaborate in correcting the malpractice usage of the term.

"Upgrading the public knowledge and information about Down syndrome, helping the people with the syndrome go into social life and seeing them as normal people instead of sickness are right ways to eliminate the wrong usage of the term," emphasized Mr Andrew Boys.

The event was co-sponsored by Permanent Missions of Australia, Brazil, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, ROK, Luxembourg, Mongolia, New Zealand, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, the United Kingdom, UNDESA, UNICEF, International Disability Alliance, Inclusion International and Down Syndrome International.

The world Down syndrome day, first established by Down Syndrome International in 2006, was proclaimed in 2011 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66/149 to be observed annually.

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Link between terms "Mongol" and Down syndrome must be broken

March 22 (UN Radio) Using the word Mongol to describe those living with Down syndrome has a negative effect on people's understanding of both Mongolian culture and those with the genetic disorder.

That's according to Uuganaa Ramsay, a Mongolian author living in Scotland, who has been exploring why the link persists between her ethnicity, and Down syndrome.

Her late son was also diagnosed with the condition.

Although the World Health Organization advised against using the word "mongoloid" to describe people with Down syndrome, due to its racial implication, the term is still used in certain parts of the world.

Ms Ramsay's book "Mongol" won the Non-Fiction Book Award from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Uuganaa Ramsay explained to Carmen Cuesta Roca how she had first become aware of the connection between her race, and the syndrome.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolia observes World Water Day by raising public awareness

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Water sector provides many jobs, as it requires exploration and determination of water reserves, tapping resources, transporting, storing, distributing, sanitation, treatment, quality improvement and prevention from drought and other water related calamities.

The Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism N.Battsereg also said March 22 that, prioritizing a goal of resolving accessible and reliable water source for the population and economic industries, his Ministry has also been focusing on preserving the ecological balance and fulfilling the state policy on green development.

The day is marked as the World Water Day since 1993, initiated by the United Nations. Mongolia joined this initiative in 2005. This year's theme is "Water and Jobs". In the margin of the World Water Day, an "International cross-border water relations and agreements" conference ran at the Center for Clean Water Reserve and Environment Protection, "Water and Traditions" discussion–at the University of Sciences and Technology, a 11th "Water–Key to Development" academic, theory and practice conference--at the Mongolian State University, and a "Water and Jobs" discussion--at Mongolian Confederation of Trade Unions.

The same day, the Art Council of Mongolia in cooperation with the Embassy of the USA in Ulaanbaatar launched a one-month programme called "Smart Water", aiming to raise public awareness about the overconsumption of drinking water and lack of water reserve in Mongolia, as well as ways to save water.

In the scope of this programme, the Art Council will take awareness raising measures through films, particularly by broadcasting Mongolian and foreign documentary videos, distributing posters and building ice sculpture named "Smart Water".

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Sports

Mongolian wins silver medal at World University Cycling Championship

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) International master of sports B.Maral-Erdene has captured a silver medal in the World University Cycling Championship, which ran this March 16-20 in Tagaytay city, the Philippines.

In the men's 150-km road race, our cyclist finished the distance in three hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds, following an Australian Cyrus Monk. The bronze medal went to a German Alexander Weifenbach.

In this race, E.Bilguunjargal came to the 12th, E.Monkhtulga--20th place, and E.Bolor-Erdene--the 22nd place. They also competed in the men's criterium race.

The Mongolian team was coached by State Honored Sportsman J.Olzii-Orshikh.

The World University Cycling Championship attracted 120 cyclists from 16 countries.

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"Mongolian Saturday" pulls out of Al Quoz Sprint

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Mongolian "Saturday", the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner and most recently fifth December 13 in the Hong Kong Sprint, was scratched Tuesday from Saturday's USD 1 million Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Park, reports drf.com.

The Mongolian "Saturday" reportedly suffered shipping sickness after arriving in Dubai last week. Trained by Enebish Ganbat, the "Saturday" would have been one of the favorites in the Al Quoz along with BC Turf Sprint runner-up "Lady Shipman" and "Sole Power", last year's Al Quoz winner. 

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Mongolian boxer climbs to 2nd in world ranking

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) International master of sports and Asian Games gold medalist D.Otgondalai has been ranked the 2nd in the latest world amateur boxers' rankings.

He has collected 1,600 points in the men's lightweight division (57-60kg), while this division has been topped by a Cuban Lazaro Alvarez, Olympic bronze medalist and three-time world champion. In the light flyweight category, G.Gan-Erdene IMS is the fifth with 850 points. A Cuban World champion Joahnys Argilagos Peres has also topped this division with 1,900 points.

State Honored Sportsman and Olympic silver medalist N.Togstsogt, who has started his professional career, has come to the 31st place among 68 boxers in the flyweight category, while his countryman E.Iderkhuu IMS is the 51st.

Other boxers--B.Tuvshinbat (69kg), B.Chinzorig (64kg) and N.Shinebayar (75kg)--have come to the 13th, 50th and 51st places, respectively.

Boxers of the men's national team have headed for China to compete in Olympic qualification tournament that will run March 25-April 3.

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Art, Entertainment

Leonardo Di Caprio to be immortalized as Mongol warrior

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Academy award winning actor Leonardo Di Caprio's face will be immortalized among the 10,000 cavalry of Chingis Khaan, the sculptures of mounted heroes to be located adjacent to the largest-in-the-world equestrian statue of Great Chingis Khaan at Tsonjin Boldog Complex.

The decision was announced by the managers and sculptors of the Tumen Khishigten (10,000 cavalry of Chingis Khaan) project on March 14. This was in respect of the famous Hollywood actor's pending visit to Mongolia on 10-day tour around Lake Khuvsgul.

Surrounding the 40-meter tall Chingis Khaan equestrian statue will be ten thousand sculptures of mounted heroes with faces of kings of the Golden Lineage, from Chingis to Ligden.

One of those mounted heroes will have Leonardo's face. The sculpting work has already begun, they said.

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Travel

Visa-free travel to Indonesia for leisurely purposes now possible

March 23 (Mongolian Economy) The Mongolian Embassy in Indonesia had been making efforts to include Mongolia in the list of countries whose passport holders may travel without a visa to Indonesia since 2014.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. An agreement to address the topic was made during the first intergovernmental commission's meeting held in 2015, and now, it has been decided that citizens of Mongolia may travel to Indonesia without a visa for leisurely purposes starting March 22.

Should you wish to travel to Indonesia, you need to prepare a confirmation of your flight showing a return trip within 30 days and your hotel booking. You will need these documents along with your passport in order to be permitted entry. In addition, it should be noted that a visa is still required if travelling for business and media related purposes.

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Indonesia: visa-free travel for Mongoliansnews.mn, March 23

 

MIAT preparing to open direct flights to USA

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) This news was published last Monday on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website.

In connection with a preparation for opening the flight of the Mongolian national flag carrier--the Mongolian Airlines (MIAT), the CAA has commenced works to be passed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for being included in the CAT-1 category.

If Mongolia is included in the CAT-1 category, the national airlines of Mongolia will perform scheduled flights to the USA and have own codes.

The Ministry of Road and Transportation reports that the MIAT will also open flights to Pusan of South Korea this year. This flight is expected to start this summer with aircrafts B737, A321 and A320, while South Korea's Air Pusan will perform flights to Mongolia, therefore ticket prices might reduce, said the Ministry.

According to the Air Astana CEO Peter Foster, the airline of Kazakhstan will open direct flight between Astana and Ulaanbaatar this June. In addition, the MIAT is expected to have a direct flight to Bangkok city.

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