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Monday, March 27, 2017

[SMI continues to improve; MEF postponed; coal exports surge; budget bill submitted; and debt-free from Chalco 'within month']

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Monday, March 27, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         Wang Tai Soars 24%; Shareholding in Iron Mining International (Mongolia) Up to 96.7%

·         Erdene Closes Private Placement to Teck

·         Mongolian coal miner posts losses, tough market conditions offset price revival

·         MMC: Cayman court grants convening Cayman Scheme Meeting

·         Mongolian Mining Chapter 15 Bankruptcy Restructuring

·         Petro Matad: Directors' Dealings, Issue of Equity and Total Voting Rights

·         Haranga Director Matthew Wood disposes shares off-market for nil consideration

·         Wolf Petroleum director Matthew Wood disposes shares off-market for nil consideration

·         Turquoise Hill to announce fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results on March 27, 2017

·         Entree Gold Mails and Files Meeting Materials for Proposed Spin-Out of U.S. Assets, Including the Ann Mason Project

·         SouthGobi Resources to announce fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results on March 31, 2017

·         Xanadu Mines: 2016 Annual Report

·         Xanadu Mines: Change of Company Secretary

·         Solartech Int'l: No large scale investment made in Mongolia mining projects, closely monitoring market risks

·         CNNC: Resumed negotiations with Mongolia government on setting up uranium JV

·         Peace Map Holding disposed all asses in Mongolia in 2016

·         E-Commodities: Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association

·         Shangri-La Asia: 2016 Final Results Announcement

·         Khan Announces Offer to Buy Company at $0.05 per share in cash

 

Economy

·         MNT ends week down 0.08% vs USD

·         BoM issues ₮295.7 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.3% to ₮970.7 trillion

·         BoM declines USD, CNY bid, USD ask offers, and MNT swap offers

·         Mongolian Headline SMI Continues to Improve

·         Average monthly salary increases to ₮942 thousand

·         Bulletin: Development Bank of Mongolia Clears Bond Repayment Hurdle; No Rating Impact

·         Mongolia to audit commercial banks' assets

·         Mongolia Economic Forum postponed to May 4-5

·         Mongolia Feb coal exports surge 84.9pct on mth

·         After the IMF bailout package… What else?

Politics & Legal

·         Defacto Review, March 19: SGK delay; PDAC, DP, Peacekeepers

·         Budget amendment bill submitted by Finance Minister

·         Prime Minister meets with state administrative leadership

·         Quote of the day: We must overcome both the economic crisis and corruption

·         Fulfillment of 2016 socio-economic general guidelines at 61 percent

·         Composition of National Council of border checkpoint approved

·         Mongolia: New Poll Shows Declining Optimism, Continued Economic Concerns

·         Mongolians tell Government to prioritize national interests in IRI poll

·         Public supervisory sub-council to be formed at ministries and agencies

·         Mongolia ranks 136th in Happy Planet Index

·         Mongolia's Energy Regulator strengthens efforts to increase energy efficiency

·         Jargal Defacto: There is no refraining from default

·         Meet the new "boss"!

·         Mongolia: Electoral Law for State Great Hural and Presidential Elections (2016) – Unofficial Translation

·         A Comparative Study of Private Security Regulations of Mongolia, Belgium and the United Kingdom

·         Prime Minister visits Khovd Province on western aimags tour

·         Single parents of Arkhangai to be backed with employment

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 20, 2017

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 21, 2017

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 22, 2017

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 23, 2017

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 24, 2017

Business

·         PM: "Government of Mongolia to be debt-free to Chalco within this month"

·         New exploration licenses to be granted in April

·         New procedure for exploration licenses to be adopted

·         Government allocates ₮9 billion to geological survey for 2017

·         State-owned company to be established for construction of oil refinery

·         Mysterious company working with Bombardier has links to Mongolian rail deal, contract reveals

·         Gashuunsukhait Railway company dissolved

·         Mongolia launches coal rail transportation to Tianjin

·         Gashuunsukhait route freight transport to be arranged under one control

·         Olon Ovoot port expanded to increase coal export

·         New contractor to be chosen for Bayankhongor-Altai road project

·         Investment forum seeks possibilities to raise gold production

·         "Mongolia Mining 2017" expo to highlight coal industry

·         World Bank Project Aims to Help Mongolia Diversify Exports

·         Mayer Brown JSM advises Mongolian government on US$600 M notes issuance and exchange offer

·         Deputy Minister remarks on scientific aspects of agriculture sector

·         Gobi Cashmere opens pop-up store in Singapore

·         100 kinds of factories to open in all regions

·         APNIC: Internet Resource Management and Network Security Workshop, Ulaanbaatar, 14-16 June

·         Financial Industry Leaders Form AmCham's Financial Services Committee

·         Kenya and Mongolia Sign MoU to Promote Sustainable Finance

·         Tunshlel 2017 Mongolian-Malaysian and Southeast Asia Investment Business Forum, July 4-5

·         MBD Business Mission to Washington DC

·         Khan Bank Welcomes Naoto Odagiri as Independent Member of Board of Directors

·         German government and business delegates visit Khan Bank, hold business meeting

·         Sh.Byambatsogt talks about being TV announcer in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar

·         Protesters demand approval of national anti-air pollution national program

·         Air pollution program's initial cost totals to MNT 9.9 billion

·         Mongolia to ban coal burning by 2021

·         China Datang Corp to collaborate on reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar

·         Experts raise concerns about scarce drinking water resources

·         Concession agreement on Ulaanbaatar sewage facility to be introduced

·         EBRD to support "Green cities" program

·         EBRD Project Summary: GrCF Ulaanbaatar Solid Waste Modernisation Project

·         ADB developing feasibility study on Affordable Housing Program

·         Ulaanbaatar Buildings Unable to Withstand Earthquakes To Be Demolished

·         Mayor attends 'Nauryz – 2017' honorary event

·         April book swap event to be held on Apr 1

·         Only smart card holders allowed for ride buses in UB

·         What is the Mongolia Capital City Tax?

·         "Ulaanbaatar Marathon 2017" to be held on May 20

·         Mongolian delegation visits "Smart Strip" of Nagpur city

·         UB Mayor begins tour of Europe with Warsaw

·         Speaker M.Enkhbold visits the new airport in Khushig Valley

·         New airport expected to commence operations next year

Diplomacy

·         Mongolia makes presentation at UN on women's rights

·         Parliamentary State Secretary of Germany visits Mongolia

·         Minister of Road and Transport Development meets Turkish Ambassador

·         Honorary Consulate of Mongolia opened in Quebec, Canada

·         Mongolian Ambassador to Czech Republic presents credentials

·         Czech Republic threatens to close Embassy in Mongolia over protests

·         Deputy PM meets Deputy head of Russian Presidential Administrative Directorate

·         First planning conference of Selenga 2017 Russia-Mongolia exercise taking place in Mongolia

·         Regional partners in Guam for military seminar

·         President Ts.Elbegdorj meets UNSG Special Envoy for Road Safety

·         Malta Foreign Minister greets new ambassadors of Mongolia and Armenia

·         Mongolian yurt library opens in Taipei

·         Dalai Lama's travel plans ignite reincarnation row

·         Thinking outside the Urn: China and the reincarnation of Mongolia's highest lama

Health & Education

·         Mongolia to cooperate with Singapore in medical sector

·         Western Region Diagnostic and Treatment Center to be renovated

·         "Academic Forum-59" Medical Conference to take place on April 7

·         Immediate Vacancies for IELTS Teachers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

·         Global Education Expo offers free consultancy

Culture & Society

·         Kazakhs' Nauryz holiday celebrated

·         True and False facts about Kazakh people

·         Ornaments and accessories of a Dariganga wife

·         This day marks 36th anniversary of Mongolia's space travel

·         Mongolia races to preserve two-humped camels

·         Reindeer herders don't need the government to protect their land

·         Museum to be established near Tonyukuk statue

·         Dating the Petroglyphs of the Mongolian Altai

·         Original statue of D.Sukhbaatar now located in Delger Monastery in Dundgobi aimag

·         UC Berkeley Event, April 3: "Mongolian Archaeology: New Discoveries, New Concerns"

·         Evil Elsa and the Forgotten Gloves

·         Ross Kemp Extreme World – Mongolia

Nature & Environment

·         On the scapegoating of goat herders for urban air pollution and economic crisis

·         Joint environmental research to be launched with Nagoya University

·         International Day of Forests marked

·         Wastewater and Water Reserves forum kicks off

·         Significance of cloud physics highlighted at meteorology conference

·         Wonders of forest mirror through creative eyes

·         Lost people successfully rescued after heavy snowstorm in western aimags

·         Fossil from Mongolia is Ancient Relative of Today's Ginkgo biloba

Sports

·         Special Olympics Winter Games 2017: S.Temuulen wins his second medal

·         Mongolia secures second gold from Special Olympics

·         Mongolian hockey team wins silver medal at Asian Challenge Cup

·         Runner B.Munkhzaya wins international marathon in Taiwan

·         Two Canadians to Contest 2017 Mongol Derby

·         The Mongolian marathon man who shone alone at Spain's 1992 Olympics

·         Skier B.Achbadrakh perseveres in his race to the 2018 Winter Olympic

·         Breeders' Cup Winners Oscar Performance, Mongolian Saturday Top Stellar Roster of Nominations for Opening Weekend of Keeneland's 2017 Spring Meet

Art & Entertainment

·         Tragedy in America: young Mongolian contortionist dies

·         Season 2 of "Your Face Sounds Familiar" starts in April

·         21 poets' creations made alive in 21 photographs

·         New book re-assesses 20th century Mongolian literature

·         Exhibition: 'Crescendo' at UMA

·         Mongolian Folk Metal Band 'Tengger Cavalry' Releases Cover of Avril Lavigne Song

·         Mongolian ballet celebrates 30th anniversary

·         B.Tserendolgor's life gets a makeover after Mongolia's Next Top Model

Travel

·         Regular passports to be issued for five and ten years, will not be extended

·         Oxford medical students take ambulance to Mongolia

·         Sophie Howarth: From Big Day Out to Mongolia

·         Top 10 Shocking Facts About Mongolia

·         The 10 best experiences you can't miss in Mongolia

·         Discovering a Country through its Festival: The Naadam Festival, Mongolia

·         National Geographic Adventure's Mongolian Horse Trek

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

Wang Tai Soars 24%; Shareholding in Iron Mining International (Mongolia) Up to 96.7%

March 22 (AAStocks) WANG TAI HLDG (01400.HK) planned to further issue consideration shares to buy 43.7% stake in Iron Mining International (Mongolia). Ending six days of fall, it soared from the low level since listing in April 2014 to $0.285 at most; it last printed at $0.27, soaring 24%, on spiking volume of 71.53 million shares.

After agreeing to buy about 53% stake in Iron Mining International (Mongolia) with $6.36 billion earlier, WANG TAI HLDG further announced that it will buy 43.7% stake in Iron Mining International (Mongolia) at a total consideration of $5.24 billion by issuing consideration shares at $0.13 per share. Upon completion, the company will own 96.7% stake in Iron Mining International (Mongolia), and this is equal to allowing backdoor listing of Iron Mining International (Mongolia) in Hong Kong.

Link to article

Link to Wang Tai release

Back to Headlines

Erdene Closes Private Placement to Teck

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - March 21, 2017) - Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) ("Erdene" or "Company"), is pleased to announce it has closed its non-brokered private placement with Teck Resources Limited ("Teck"). The private placement financing involved the issuance of 543,478 shares to Teck at a price of $0.92 per share for gross proceeds of $500,000 ("Private Placement"). This fulfils Teck's equity investment obligation pursuant to the Strategic Alliance between Erdene and Teck announced by Erdene in April 2013. Net proceeds of the Private Placement will be used for exploration of the Company's Teck-Alliance projects in southwest Mongolia. All securities have been issued pursuant to the Private Placement and are subject to a four-month hold period from the closing date.

Erdene-Teck Alliance

The Alliance with Teck was entered into on April 10, 2013, and was formed by the signing of option and private placement agreements (collectively, "Agreement") to fund and carry out mineral exploration in the Trans Altai region of southwest Mongolia. Under the terms of the Agreement, Teck had the option to subscribe for shares of Erdene, priced at the then current market plus 10%, until it had invested $3 million. Once the initial option agreement funding and initial program is complete, the Alliance will continue to evaluate opportunities for acquisition and, depending on certain conditions, could enter into future agreements to acquire and advance designated projects.

A multi-year program of regional exploration, designed to identify porphyry and porphyry-related mineralization, has been underway since inception. The program has provided the Alliance with a significant amount of technical information to support future acquisition and exploration.

With the renewal of the Alliance, the 2017 exploration program will consist of follow-up work on anomalous targets identified during the 2016 program, comprising surface geochemical sampling, geological mapping/prospecting, ground-verification of multispectral anomalies, and sampling of alteration zones for hyper-spectral analysis. Additional work is also planned for one of the Alliance's newly acquired exploration licenses, consisting of geochemical, geophysical, and geological work.

Excluded from the Alliance are the Company's Bayan Khundii Gold Project, Altan Nar Gold-Polymetallic Project, Altan Arrow Gold-Silver Project and the Zuun Mod Molybdenum-Copper Project.

Link to release

Related:

Teck Announces Subscription to Erdene PlacementTeck Resources, March 20

Back to Headlines

Mongolian coal miner posts losses, tough market conditions offset price revival

ULAANBAATAR, March 23 (Reuters) - Mongolia Mining Corp reported losses of $154.2 million for 2016, despite a 20 percent jump in total revenue, with a resurgence in coal prices over the year unable to offset tough market conditions in the first half and high financing costs.

Coal accounts for nearly half of mineral-rich Mongolia's total exports but weak infrastructure and high freight costs have forced the country to sell at discounted prices and prevented it from taking full advantage of its vast reserves.

Delays to a railway project designed to help the landlocked nation deliver coal across its southern border into China have also held back the industry and eroded MMC's profitability.

The firm reported an average selling price of $77.2 a tonne last year, 22 percent more than in 2015 after China's war on overcapacity helped cut coal supplies. But this was much lower than the average China spot price of around 946 yuan ($137). MMC's hard coking coal sales rose 29.2 percent to 1.5 million tonnes in 2016.

Mongolian Mining runs the Ukhaa Khudag mine in the Gobi desert that shares the same coal formation as Mongolia's huge state-owned Tavan Tolgoi mine, which the country hopes will attract billions of dollars in foreign investment.

Mongolian coal is shipped by trucks to the Chinese border, about 240 kilometres (149 miles) away from Ukhaa Khudag. The country has long planned to build a railway to cut down on costs, but it has struggled to finance the project.

"When MMC reaches full production rates of 7 million tonnes per year some time in 2018, it will be responsible for almost 10 percent of Mongolia's total GDP at current coal prices," said Harris Kupperman, chairman of the Mongolian Growth Group, a real estate firm that holds a stake in MMC. "MMC's future health is vital to the Mongolian economy."

Mongolia's central bank said last week that the value of the country's coal exports grew 642 percent in February, compared with the same period of last year.

According to data from China's customs authority this week, Mongolia overtook Indonesia to become China's No.2 source of imported non-lignite coal in February, with shipments up 211.6 percent on the year at nearly 2 million tonnes.

Mongolia was also China's No.2 coking coal supplier last month, with shipments up 134 percent to 1.436 million tonnes.

However, average prices of coking coal from Mongolia stood at $78.77 per tonne, far lower than the $171.2 average for all coking coal imported by China during the month.

Link to article

Link to MMC annual report

Back to Headlines

MMC: Cayman court grants convening Cayman Scheme Meeting

March 21, Mongolian Mining Corporation Ltd. (HKEx:975) -- This announcement (the "Announcement") is made by Mongolian Mining Corporation (In Provisional Liquidation) (the "Company") pursuant to Rule 13.09(1) of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Listing Rules") and the Inside Information Provisions under Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).

The Company is pleased to announce that on 20 March 2017, the Cayman Court granted an order by way of consent authorising the Company to proceed with the dissemination of the Scheme Documents (as defined below) and convene the Cayman Scheme Meeting. Accordingly, copies of the Cayman Scheme, the Hong Kong Scheme, the explanatory statement (which explains the effect of the Cayman Scheme and the Hong Kong Scheme in detail) and the solicitation packet (which includes the account holder letter and form of proxy to be completed by all the scheme creditors in order to vote at the scheme meetings) (collectively, the "Scheme Documents"), together with certain other documents concerning the Debt Restructuring, are now available to access and download from the scheme website (http://www.lynchpinbm.com/project/mongolian-mining/) or by contacting the information agent on +852 2526 5406 or by email to mminfo@lynchpinbm.com.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Mongolian Mining Chapter 15 Bankruptcy Restructuring

March 23 (Bankrupt Company News) Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia-based Mongolian Mining filed for Chapter 15 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, case number 17-10695. The Company, which engages in mining, processing, transportation and sale of coal products in Mongolia, is represented by Timothy E. Graulich of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

The Company is currently operating in Provisional Liquidation by order of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands and restructuring by way of both Cayman Islands and Hong Kong schemes of arrangement, which are materially identical. If the effective date of the restructuring has not occurred on or before May 8, 2017, the terms of the restructuring support agreements will lapse automatically.

According to documents filed with the Court, "In order to mitigate decreasing profit margins, the Group made efforts to penetrate the inland China market through new sales terms from 2014 onwards which in FY15 started to produce positive profit margins. Nevertheless, the downturn in the international coking coal market has meant that revenue and sales volume for the Group decreased significantly in recent years."

Mongolian Mining's recently reported assets of $1.6 billion.

Link to article

Back to Headlines

Petro Matad: Directors' Dealings, Issue of Equity and Total Voting Rights 

Dealings between Concert Party members

March 24 -- Petro Matad announces that on 24 March 2017 Dr Oyungerel Janchiv, a director of Petro Matad, sold 2,500,000 ordinary shares of US$0.01 each in the Company ("Shares") to Petrovis Matad Inc. ("Petrovis"), at 25p per Share. Each of Dr Oyungerel and Petrovis are members of the Petrovis Group Concert Party, as detailed further below. 

Exercise of Options

Petro Matad further announces that it has issued 429,500 new Shares pursuant to the exercise of options by certain Directors and employees on 24 March 2017. The below table sets out the changes to Directors' shareholdings following the exercise of options:

Director

Options exercised

Exercise price per Share

Resultant shareholding

Percentage holding of enlarged issued share capital

Oyungerel Janchiv*

62,500

£0.11

16,867,946

5.86%

Ridvan Karpuz

75,000

£0.0788

2,021,209

0.70%

Amarzul Tuul

45,000

£0.11

583,334

0.20%

7,000

£0.1975

* Dr Oyungerel Janchiv controls more than 20% of Petrovis. Her direct holding in Petro Matad of 16,867,946 Shares (following her share sale to Petrovis and exercise of options) is, for disclosure purposes, aggregated with that of Petrovis under the AIM definition of director's family. The aggregated holding of Dr Oyungerel and Petrovis is 111,552,208 Shares representing 38.74 per cent. of the Company's enlarged issued share capital. 

Concert Party holding

Following the issue of the new Shares to Dr Oyungerel Janchiv, the Petrovis Group (being Petrovis, its underlying shareholders and their family members) will hold 144,112,822 Shares, representing 50.05 per cent. of the Company's enlarged issued share capital. 

Application for admission of new Shares

Application has been made for the 429,500 new Shares, which rank pari passu with the Company's existing issued Shares, to be admitted to trading on AIM ("Admission") and it is expected that Admission will occur on 30 March 2017. 

Total Voting Rights

Following Admission, Petro Matad will have 287,924,275 ordinary shares in issue, which will also represent the total number of voting rights in the Company. No Share are held in Treasury. This figure should be used by shareholders as the denominator for the calculations by which they will determine if they are required to notify their interest in, or a change to their interest in, the Company under the FCA's Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Haranga Director Matthew Wood disposes shares off-market for nil consideration

March 23, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) -- 

No. of securities held prior to change

Matthew Gaden Western Wood

- 1,952,352 Ordinary Shares

Whistling Kite Equity Ltd

- 8,889,157 Ordinary Shares

- 1,000,000 unlisted options exercisable at 20 cents each, expiring 30 June 2018

Class

Ordinary Shares

Unlisted Options

Number acquired

Nil

Number disposed

Matthew Gaden Western Wood

- 1,952,352 Ordinary Shares

Whistling Kite Equity Ltd

- 8,889,157 Ordinary Shares

- 1,000,000 unlisted options exercisable at 20 cents each, expiring 30 June 2018

Value/Consideration

Nil

No. of securities held after change

Nil

Nature of change

Off market transfer

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Wolf Petroleum director Matthew Wood disposes shares off-market for nil consideration

March 23, Wolf Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WOF) --

No. of securities held prior to change

Whistling Kite Equity Pty Ltd

- 15,281,472 ordinary shares

- 14,447,785 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Matthew Gaden Western Wood

- 4,000,000 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Mr M Wood <Thomas Wood A/C>

- 55,748 ordinary shares

- 672,415 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Class

Ordinary shares

Listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Number acquired

Nil

Number disposed

Whistling Kite Equity Pty Ltd

- 15,281,472 ordinary shares

- 14,447,785 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Matthew Gaden Western Wood

- 4,000,000 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Value/Consideration

Nil

No. of securities held after change

Mr M Wood <Thomas Wood A/C>

- 55,748 ordinary shares

- 672,415 listed options exercisable at $0.05 on or before 31 July 2018.

Nature of change

Off-market transfer

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Turquoise Hill to announce fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results on March 27, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - March 20, 2017) - Turquoise Hill Resources will announce its fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results on Monday, March 27, 2017 after markets close in North America.

The Company will host a conference call and webcast to discuss fourth quarter and full year 2016 results on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 11:00 am EDT / 8:00 am PDT. The conference call can be accessed through the following dial-in details:

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Entree Gold Mails and Files Meeting Materials for Proposed Spin-Out of U.S. Assets, Including the Ann Mason Project

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 24, 2017) - Entrée Gold Inc. ("Entrée or the "Company") (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) is pleased to report that further to its news release of February 28, 2017, the Company has today filed and mailed the materials for its Annual General and Special Meeting (the "Meeting") of shareholders, optionholders and warrantholders (collectively, the "Securityholders") which describe, among other things, the proposed strategic reorganization of the Company's business (the "Arrangement"). The Company's Information Circular (the "Circular") and other Meeting materials are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.entreegold.com.

The Arrangement

At the Meeting, among other items of business including the annual election of directors, shareholders of Entrée ("Shareholders"), as well as Securityholders voting together as a single class, will be asked to consider and, if thought fit, to pass, with or without variation, a special resolution to approve a statutory plan of arrangement (the "Plan of Arrangement") under Section 288 of the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia). It is intended that, as part of the Arrangement, Shareholders will receive common shares of newly incorporated Mason Resources Corp. ("Mason Resources") by way of a share exchange, pursuant to which each existing share of Entrée is exchanged for one "new" share of Entrée and 0.45 of a Mason Resources common share (the "Consideration"). Entrée will transfer to Mason Resources all of the issued and outstanding shares of Entrée U.S. Holdings Inc., which indirectly holds the Ann Mason copper-molybdenum project in Nevada (the "Ann Mason Project") and the Lordsburg copper-gold property in New Mexico, along with US$8.75 million in cash.

There will be no change to Shareholders' existing interests in Entrée.

The Plan of Arrangement calls for Entrée warrantholders to exchange their warrants for replacement warrants to acquire the same number of Entrée shares and 45% of that number of Mason Resources shares. Similarly, Entrée optionholders will exchange their options for replacement options to acquire the same number of Entrée shares and 45% of that number of Mason Resources shares. The exercise prices of the replacement warrants and options will be determined in accordance with the Plan of Arrangement.

The board of directors of Entrée (the "Board") has unanimously determined that the Plan of Arrangement is fair and in the best interests of Entrée and its Securityholders and recommends that Securityholders vote FOR the Plan of Arrangement.

The Meeting

Entrée Shareholders, warrantholders and optionholders as of the record date of March 16, 2017 have the right to vote by proxy or in person at the Meeting to be held May 1, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. PDT at the offices of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, 1200 Waterfront Centre, 200 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Benefits of the Arrangement

Link to full release

Back to Headlines

SouthGobi Resources to announce fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results on March 31, 2017

HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - March 21, 2017) - SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX: SGQ)(HKSE:1878) (the "Company") announces that the board of directors (the "Board") of the Company will meet on Friday, March 31, 2017 to consider and approve the fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results of the Company and its subsidiaries. These financial results will be released on March 31, 2017.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Xanadu Mines: 2016 Annual Report

March 24, Xanadu Mines Ltd. (ASX:XAM) --

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Xanadu Mines: Change of Company Secretary

March 22 -- Xanadu Mines Ltd (ASX: XAM – "Xanadu" or "Company") advises that Janine Rolfe will step down as Company Secretary, effective 31 March 2017.

Nathan Bartrop, a colleague of Janine's from Company Matters Pty Limited, has been appointed Company Secretary, also effective 31 March 2017. For the purposes of ASX Listing Rule 12.6, Nathan is also the person responsible for communications between the Company and ASX.

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Solartech Int'l: No large scale investment made in Mongolia mining projects, closely monitoring market risks

2016-2017 Interim Report

March 20, Solartech International Holdings Limited (HKEx:1166) --

Mining

The Group's mineral resources are concentrated in Dundgobi Aimag and Bayan-Ulgii Aimag, Mongolia. As there are still many uncertainties in the Mongolian and international mineral markets, besides carrying out a small amount of additional exploration work and the necessary work to maintain the mining rights, no large scale capital investment was made during the period under review. The management will closely monitor the market risks of Mongolia and make adjustments to investment strategies accordingly.

Link to report

Back to Headlines

CNNC: Resumed negotiations with Mongolia government on setting up uranium JV

Final Results Announcement for the Year Ended 31st December, 2016

March 20, CNNC International Ltd. (HKEx:2302) --

The application of the mining licenses of the Mongolian uranium resources project has been delayed due to the changes in the relevant Mongolian government officials during the Year. New officials have been appointed in 2016 and the Group has resumed negotiations with the officials for setting up a joint venture company with the Mongolian government for the project and finalising the application procedures for the mining licenses.

Link to report

Back to Headlines

Peace Map Holding disposed all asses in Mongolia in 2016

Results announcement for the year ended 31 December 2016

March 23, Peace Map Holding Ltd. (HKEx:402) --

Discontinued Operation

Mining and Exploration Business in Mongolia

During the year, the Group disposed of all its assets in Mongolia, including four coal mining licences covering a 1,114-hectare coal mine at Tugrug Valley and three exploration licences in respect of coal deposits in DundGobi (14,087 hectares) located in Mongolia at a consideration of approximately HK$7.3 million. The disposal of assets contributed a gain on disposal of approximately HK$74.5 million to the Group. The Group did not hold any assets in Mongolia as at 31 December 2016.

Link to report

Back to Headlines

E-Commodities: Amended and Restated Memorandum and Articles of Association

March 23, E-Commodities Holdings Ltd. (HKEx:1733) --

Link to release

Back to Headlines

Shangri-La Asia: 2016 Final Results Announcement

March 23, Shangri-La Asia Ltd. (HKEx:00069) --

Segment income statement

For the year ended 31 December 2016 and 2015 (US$ million)

 

2016

2015

 

Sales

Profit/(Loss) after tax

Sales

Profit/(Loss) after tax

Hotel ownership

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong

258.2

58.3

264.0

62.7

Mainland China

751.7

(12.5)

780.5

(55.8)

Singapore

198.1

23.7

218.9

29.9

Malaysia

115.5

13.9

121.4

17.6

The Philippines

189.7

5.6

199.4

16.2

Japan

62.6

0.8

56.3

(0.7)

Thailand

60.4

8.8

67.4

12.4

Australia

95.9

3.9

92.1

(0.1)

France

41.0

(16.3)

48.3

(22.4)

United Kingdom

47.6

(18.6)

51.7

(21.7)

Mongolia

14.3

(7.1)

7.8

(6.3)

Sri Lanka

4.4

(7.9)

Other countries

78.7

(6.8)

89.8

(4.6)

 

Profit before non-operating items

– poor occupancies at the Sule Square and the Shangri-La Centre, Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia

Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar (opened for business in June 2015) recorded an increase in ADR of 25%. This, together with a 2 percentage point increment in occupancy, led to an increase in RevPAR of 32%. However, completing a full year of operation in 2016, the Group's effective share of depreciation charges increased to US$5.7 million in the current year compared to US$3.3 million in 2015. As a result, the amount of net loss shared by the Group increased by US$0.8 million for the year.

Other Countries

In Myanmar, the Shangri-La Residences in Yangon (55.86% owned by the Group) registered further growth in yields of 3% after a 67% increase in 2015. Due to the slowdown of the local economy, yields of the office and commercial spaces at the Central Tower, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia (51% owned by the Group) were down by 25% and 26%, respectively. The Group's share of net profit from the investment properties in other countries for the year decreased by US$4.0 million for the year largely as a result of the start-up losses of the newly opened Sule Square in Yangon and Shangri-La Centre, Ulaanbaatar.

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Khan Announces Offer to Buy Company at $0.05 per share in cash

TORONTO, March 22, 2017 /CNW/ - Khan Resources Inc. ("Khan" or the "Company") (CSE: KRI) announces that it has entered into a definitive agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement") with Arden Holdings Ltd., ("Arden") a private Turks and Caicos company and Arden's wholly-owned subsidiary ("Arden BidCo") whereby Arden BidCo has agreed to acquire all of Khan's outstanding shares by way of plan of arrangement (the "Arrangement").  Under the Arrangement, Khan's shareholders will receive cash of C$0.05 per share.  The transaction is subject to Khan shareholder approval, court approval and other customary closing conditions.

The annual and special meeting of shareholders (the "Meeting") to vote on the Arrangement and other matters will be held on May 5, 2017.  The record date for determining shareholders entitled to receive notice of and vote at the Meeting has been set as April 5, 2017.  Based on the recommendation of a special committee formed for the purpose of considering the proposed Arrangement, and advice from its advisors, Khan's Board of Directors recommends that shareholders vote in favour of the Arrangement at the Meeting.  Blair Franklin Capital Partners Inc., the financial advisor to the Company has provided an oral opinion that the consideration to be offered under the Arrangement is fair, from a financial point of view, to Khan's shareholders.

The Company is currently in the process of liquidation, as approved by 99.9% of the common shares voted at a meeting of shareholders held November 10, 2016 (the "Liquidation Approval").  On November 29, 2016, the Company made an interim distribution to shareholders of $0.85 per share, by way of a return of capital.  Following the interim distribution, the Company has been pursuing the liquidation, including the orderly winding up of its one remaining subsidiary, Khan Netherlands BV ("Khan Netherlands").  As previously announced, Khan Netherlands received a preliminary tax assessment from the Dutch tax authority in the amount of €11.4 million (later amended to €3.3 million).  Khan Netherlands has formally disputed the assessment, and proposes to file a tax return on the basis of no taxes being payable.  If the Dutch tax authority continues to assert that Dutch tax is payable by Khan Netherlands in connection with its share of the settlement proceeds received from the Government of Mongolia, the matter could take a significant amount of time and resources to resolve.  This would further delay the completion of the liquidation of the Company and impact the amount and timing of the final distribution of the Company's remaining cash to the shareholders.

The Management Information Circular for the November 10, 2016 shareholders meeting disclosed that the amount of funds available for distribution to shareholders would depend upon a number of factors and would be in the range of $0.01 to $0.08 per share with distribution occurring after receipt of tax clearances estimated to be obtained in 2018.  Under the Liquidation Approval, the Board of Directors of Khan was authorized not to proceed with the liquidation of the Company in its current form if it determines in its discretion that doing so is no longer in the best interests of the Company or its shareholders.  The Board has considered the alternatives available to the Company and has determined that in light of the Netherlands tax dispute and the fact that the Arrangement provides an opportunity for shareholders to receive a certain amount of cash now for their shares, the Arrangement is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders.  If the required shareholder approval is not obtained at the meeting, the Board will continue to proceed with the liquidation of the Company currently underway.

The Arrangement Agreement is subject to certain customary conditions, including court approval and the approval of not less than two-thirds of the votes cast at a meeting of shareholders to consider the Arrangement, and the satisfaction of certain other customary conditions.  The Arrangement Agreement provides for, among other things, customary Board support and non-solicitation covenants subject to customary "fiduciary out" provisions and a right in favour of Arden to match any superior proposal.   The Arrangement Agreement also provides for a termination fee of $175,000 payable by Khan to Arden if the Arrangement is not completed in certain circumstances.  An equally valued reverse-termination fee is payable by Arden to Khan if the transaction is not completed in certain circumstances.

Directors, officers and major shareholders holding approximately 38.9% of the 90,166,482 issued and outstanding Khan common shares, have indicated their support of the Arrangement and their intention to vote in favour of the Arrangement.

Mr. Grant Edey, Chairman and CEO of Khan, commented "We believe that this offer gives the opportunity to all shareholders to sell their Khan shares at a fair price in the near term rather than holding the shares for a distribution of the remaining funds after the completion of an uncertain liquidation process in terms of time and cost." 

The terms and conditions of the Arrangement Agreement will be summarized in the Company's management information circular which will be filed with the Canadian securities regulators and will be available under Khan's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on Khan's website at www.khanresources.com.

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Local Market

No trading reports since March 21

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Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, March 24 Close

 

3/24

3/23

3/22

3/21

3/20

3/17

3/16

3/15

3/14

3/13

High

Date

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USD

2,459.18

2,459.57

2,459.38

2,457.58

2,458.10

2,457.12

2,454.96

2,457.12

2,458.38

2,458.80

2,498.75

1/10/2017

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EUR

2,649.52

2,654.98

2,656.50

2,649.64

2,647.37

2,645.09

2,633.07

2,614.01

2,615.22

2,629.93

2,681.43

11/10/2016

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JPY

22.09

22.11

22.06

21.78

21.83

21.68

21.68

21.42

21.35

21.44

23.49

11/9/2016

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GBP

3,070.04

3,068.81

3,066.97

3,038.31

3,052.47

3,033.31

3,012.73

3,005.06

2,983.49

3,005.02

3,183.26

8/13/2014

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RUB

42.81

42.86

42.70

42.89

42.93

42.41

42.23

41.58

41.69

41.61

54.32

6/27/2014

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CNY

356.72

357.08

357.18

356.28

355.99

355.72

356.17

355.49

355.30

356.03

363.02

1/5/2017

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KRW

2.19

2.19

2.19

2.19

2.20

2.17

2.17

2.15

2.14

2.14

2.20

3/20/2017

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SGD

1,755.99

1,757.65

1,758.27

1,756.79

1,759.93

1,751.46

1,748.55

1,739.74

1,737.19

1,741.17

1,759.93

3/20/2017

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CAD

1,840.98

1,843.69

1,839.68

1,840.95

1,843.48

1,842.20

1,845.90

1,825.16

1,825.08

1,827.09

1,908.84

1/18/2017

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AUD

1,872.79

1,879.36

1,886.47

1,893.32

1,902.08

1,885.23

1,892.16

1,862.87

1,855.22

1,862.05

1,913.20

2/16/2017

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HKD

316.60

316.65

316.66

316.46

316.53

316.44

316.22

316.29

316.42

316.65

322.21

1/10/2017

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CHF

2,474.27

2,476.16

2,478.09

2,465.35

2,463.52

2,466.62

2,455.08

2,438.95

2,435.12

2,431.45

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), TDB (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,458), Golomt (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), XacBank (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), State Bank (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460)

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

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BoM issues 295.7 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.3% to ₮970.7 trillion

March 24 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 295.7 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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BoM declines USD, CNY bid, USD ask offers, and MNT swap offers

March 23 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2460.70 for USD22.2 million, asked weighted average rate of MNT2459.55 for USD7.5 million and bid weighted average rate ofMNT354.67 for CNY58.0 million respectively. The BoM did not accept the bid offers.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received buying bid offers of USD3.5 million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept the bid offers.

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Mongolian Headline SMI Continues to Improve

  • Market Growth Index up 26% year on year
  • Prices charged for goods and services continue to grow
  • Job losses evident

The Headline Mongolian Sales Managers' Index (SMI) was 41.7 in March, an improvement from the level of 40.4 in February. The Market Growth Index, when compared the same month in 2016, represents a 26% increase, which indicates the steady progress that the Mongolian economy is making from the low in 2016. The private economy is still suffering from severe recession, data suggests that the economy is gradually emerging from the recessionary phase, and may emerge soon into a period of growth. All sub index components of the SMI, with the exception of the staffing index; registered improving levels in March. The Sales Growth Index is still in contraction territory but there has been a continuation of the improving trend, with the rate of negative growth slowly dropping off. Prices charged for sales of goods and services are continuing to grow which suggests higher price inflation is to follow at a modestly increasing rate. Managers' report that the price increases have had a minimal impact on profit margins, indicating higher input costs are the driving force. The mild winter weather has given businesses a slight respite over the past few months but challenging conditions persist.

Sales Managers' Indexes Trends

  

Direction

Condition

SMI

Falling

Improving

Business Confidence

Falling

Improving

Market Growth

Falling

Improving

Sales Output

Falling

Improving

Prices Charged

Growing

Slower

Staffing Levels

Falling

Worsening

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Average monthly salary increases to 942 thousand

March 21 (gogo.mn) As of 4Q of 2016, average monthly salary of Mongolia reached MNT 942.9 thousand which increased by MNT 75 thousand compared with the same period last year. 

Total of 557.9 thousand employees of 37.3 thousand companies have been included in the Social Welfare General Authority report. 

According to the data provided, average monthly salary of small companies with few employees is approximately at MNT 610 thousand while company with 200 and up to employees is at MNT 1.3 million. 

Based on the general classifications of all economic activities, average monthly salary of the mining and exploration sector is ranging at MNT 2.3 million, considering as the highest. Meanwhile salary of accommodation and food service sector employees paid the minimum salary of MNT 599 thousand. 

According to the professions, machine operators and machine assemblers have the highest average monthly salary of MNT 1.1 million while certified staffs in agriculture, forestry and fishing paid the minimum salary of MNT 514 thousand. 

According to the National Statistics Office data as of August 2015, the average salary in Mongolia nationwide differs greatly by regions. While national average reaches MNT 853.9 thousand.

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Bulletin: Development Bank of Mongolia Clears Bond Repayment Hurdle; No Rating Impact

HONG KONG (S&P Global Ratings) March 21, 2017--S&P Global Ratings said today that its ratings on Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM: B-/Stable/B) are unaffected after the bank successfully settled its sovereign guaranteed bonds of US$580 million due March 21, 2017. This was achieved with the Mongolian government issuing US$600 million bonds in exchange for DBM's US$476 million worth of bonds at par with the remaining balance paid out to those investors that elected not to exchange. We do not view this settlement to be a distressed one because the exchange was at par and investors had the option to be paid out.

We believe the bond exchange and repayment further deleveraged DBM's balance sheet, following an earlier substantial reduction from the government's equity injection toward the end of 2016. We view this as positive for DBM's financial standing for now. However, effects from the revision of a DBM-related law remain to be seen, including its influence on the bank's business growth and strategy, and in turn the impact on its long-term financial profile.

In February 2017, Mongolia revised a DBM-related law to reposition the bank to focus on commercially driven projects, and carve out its government loan book and associated government funding from the bank's balance sheet. We expect DBM to maintain its critical function in developing the country's energy, mining, transport, and manufacturing sectors. That said, we will continue to assess how the bank's focus on purely commercially driven projects would affect its policy role and the level of extraordinary government support it could receive.

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Mongolia to audit commercial banks' assets

March 22 (news.mn) In the framework of implementing the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mongolia is planning to audit the financial assets of its commercial banks. A leading international company will undertake this task. According to the plan, the task of evaluating the value of the commercial banks' assets will be finished by end of the year.

Depending on the results of the audit, Mongolia will decide what can be done to improve its banking sector.

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Mongolia Economic Forum postponed to May 4-5

March 22 (Mongolian Economy) "Sudden surprises" from the government to the investors continue. The government decided to postpone this year's Mongolia Economic Forum from March 30-31 until May 4-5.

The government explained that the postponement is due to the wait regarding whether the IMF will agree to provide Extended Fund Facility, which is to be decided by the IMF's board meeting on April 10.

Such regular, sudden decisions however do not contradict the government's words saying it will support foreign investment by all means. Traditionally taking place at the end of each May, the Mongolia Economic Forum is going to be organised for the 8th year.

The unexpected decision has caused complications for the organiser which has been preparing the forum, and is also a risk concern for foreign investors, main speakers and guests, making them lose time and travel costs. In addition, domestic investors and businessmen have surely been preparing and planning for the forum.

Moreover, a roundtable discussion between foreign investors organised by the Ministry of Mining and Erdenes Mongol LLC under the topic "Why should investors pay attention to Mongolia?" was postponed two days before the scheduled date as that date was declared as Republic's Day, a public holiday.

It is understandable that some now have doubts on whether if the forum will be held in the rescheduled month of May. An influential government authority needs to address this question.

Stability and continuity is most important for investors and entrepreneurs.

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Mongolia Feb coal exports surge 84.9pct on mth

March 24 (sxcoal.com) Coal-rich Mongolia exported 4.86 million tonnes of coal in February, surging 84.9% from 2.63 million tonnes in January, and up from 0.28 million tonnes in February 2016, showed data from the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia.

For more details, please visit http://www.sxcoal.com/data/view/346/en.

Exports of washed coking coal increased 31.55% from a month earlier to 0.43 million tonnes in February, while that of raw coking coal dropped 24.28% from January to 0.83 million tonnes.

The country exported 0.66 million tonnes of thermal coal in the month, down 5.28% month on month.

In February, Mongolia produced 8.43 million tonnes of coal, increasing 490% year on year and up 55.28% month on month.

Last year, the country's coal output increased 44.01% from a year ago to 35.19 million tonnes.

In February, coal sales increased 84.15% month on month to 6.66 million tonnes, with domestic sales up 82.07% from January to 1.8 million tonnes.

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After the IMF bailout package… What else?

Why the bailout?

March 2 (Institute for National Strategy) The Mongolia government has jointly announced with the IMF that it will implement the politically difficult – but inevitable – rescue package, and avoid becoming a delinquent international debtor. Let's be clear – this is an aid package, at very low interest rates. It is also coming from long-term friends of Mongolia – the IMF/World Bank, ADB and with support from Japan and other bilateral partners. The Chinese government will reportedly extend the term of the US$2.2B Yuan swap facility (due in August) by three years.

This multi-party package will only come into being because the Mongolian government has agreed to a structural reform of government finances and processes. Signing up to the US$440m IMF package has opened the door to a larger US$5B plus support and debt restructuring package.

The IMF $440m package by itself will make little up-front difference to Mongolia's plight, being drawn down over 3 years.

This larger package will also make easier the refinancing of existing government debts. Just recently DBM's bonds of 580 million USD (issued at 5.75% for 5 years) were exchanged for the new 600 million USD Khuraldai government bond (issued at 8.75% for 7 years). The new Khuraldai bond is 52% more expensive than the DBM bond raised 5 years ago. However it is a 2.1% lower interest rate than the last 500 million USD bond raised just 12 months ago – representing a 20% reduction in borrowing costs. This reflects a first benefit from the proposed IMF deal.

However the lenders are also saying, "if we are to help you then you must also help yourself". The restructuring of government revenues and expenditures is required "with or without bond repayment" and "with or without IMF bailout".

By the end of 2016, the budget deficit reached 15% оf GDP and public debt reached 78% of GDP (http://unuudur.mn/article/94871). Effectively government expenditures have grown at a far faster rate than its revenues. At the peak of commodity prices the government were running large deficits and borrowing internationally to fund this. With the downturn in commodity prices the debt situation has become chronic.

Fiscal restructuring has to take place, with or without IMF bailout, but with IMF bailout at least the country will receive fiscal support from donor community. So the main culprit is not just a temporary fall in mining products prices, its the underlying fiscal structure and policies which created the unsustainable budget deficit and inefficiency.

Some economists claim that the bailout package is either unnecessary or it's terms are unfair – or both.

But we ask you – what do individuals, families and companies do when they fall on tough times? They restructure to survive. If they don't this quickly their relatives, shareholders and trading partners quickly cut financial support. They restructure or fail – simple as that. For companies, you restructure or go bankrupt.

Officially governments do not become bankrupt – look at Zimbabwe for instance. However, where lending countries and major lending institutions see an economy and government finances being mismanaged or in very poor condition, they quickly reduce their support, and demand action before support is re-instated.

There are also notable examples of countries like Venezuela where political leaders prolong their own country's agony. They pretend the crisis does not exist, or waste time placing the blame on other parties. They often continue to print money to pay their own bills and make debt repayments. They do this for personal survival (or benefit) – but economic recovery does not occur and the catastrophe moves closer because the underlying economic structure itself is erroneous.

Government leaders may take actions within their own country that defy commercial logic. In recent years, despite being in economic crisis, Mongolia failed to support implement a number of large investment projects which could deliver billions of US dollars in FDI and tax revenue. Projects like the Tavantolgoi coal deal, Power plant No 5 and Gobi power plant could bring in at least 5 billion of dollars in FDI. However, due to domestic politics it so far hasn't happened. Unfortunately, No minister in Mongolia resigns when he or she pursues wrong policies and can't work with investors (ie get projects to the starting line).

However, when governments borrow from international markets to fund domestic projects they ironically expose themselves to the reality of being a "commercial borrower" – where government must repay its debt on time or face significant consequences.

We know from limited experience that when your economy is strong your exchange rate is strong. This occurred during the OT stage one construction and the peak of the commodities boom when coal and iron ore prices were very high.

But now we, Mongolians also know from much longer experience that when your economy is weak, your exchange rate diminishes and interest rates climb to high levels. And critically the cost of repaying your international debt increases significantly in local currency terms. When government revenues have fallen and government costs are not reduced at the same rate, then a bad problem is made worse.

All of these factors are in play in Mongolia – and the only realistic option is to accept the IMF remedy. While it is bitter to swallow, it is better to face reality sooner rather than later. Without the remedy a declining future and financial disaster comes much closer. A mega-commodities boom is not around the corner – and is not our savior.

Let us be clear again – the current level of Mongolian government debt is not sustainable and Mongolia has significant international debts due for payment soon. Refinancing, on good terms, when you have already high debt levels and a weak economy is extremely difficult.

The current success of Khuraldai bonds was only possible because investors thought that the country is serious in its intent to rebuild its own troubled finances with the help of IMF.

The INS supports the IMF bail-out package and the co-commitment measures being put into place by the government. INS realises there will be hardships, but INS also wants a better future for Mongolia, and the bailout package is a first step towards this future.

However, INS states the long-term solution is not the bail-out package per se. We need our government to put in place "economic stimulation policies and programs" that ultimately provide better government services, higher incomes and more jobs for all Mongolians. Restructuring the fiscal system to make it sustainable is a precursor to recovery.

Support ourselves through a strong economy

Restructuring and repaying old debts is not enough. Cutting government expenditures and raising more tax is not enough. It is critical that Mongolia's government deliver a strong engine room – that is a "strong and growing economy" to provide the things that other country's citizens take for granted. Government needs to deliver the economic growth, solve escalating health issues and take real steps to actually improve the business climate.

We are all sick from pollution and anti-sanitary conditions. We need our government to deliver healthy cities and towns for our citizens, young and old, to live in. Health wise, and politically, this is not negotiable. The IMF bail-out package is not going to deliver clean cities..

We also need to remember that for every significant social problem (like pollution) not fixed – there is an ongoing and growing public cost. To government it is growing health budgets, for the business community it is lower productivity and absences, and for Mongolians specifically it is chronic illness and reduced life expectancy.

We absolutely need strong businesses, both domestic and international, that make profits, pay Mongolian taxes and provide well paid jobs. The current government has stated that the state should not play a role in business going forward. However, the jury is out here – where we see SOE's reverting back to large panels of ministry representatives on their boards.

Both sides of parliament recognise the failure of our state-owned and state-run enterprises. They clearly do not deliver efficient business organisations or outcomes. They borrow from government, make very small profits and pay little tax. They also have higher levels of employment than would be the case in privately run companies.

Our government must solve (for themselves) the riddle of how to attract the next wave of foreign investment and international finance. Last three years have witnessed falling amount of investment of all kinds, from 6.57 trillion MNT in 2013 to 4.754 trillion in 2015 (NSO), which includes all kinds of investment. It is not just foreign investment that's falling – public and private Mongolian domestic investment is also falling.

The Mongolian banks – standing alone – do not have the capacity to service the needs of local businesses.  Attracting investors (and finance) to Mongolia is critical for Mongolia's economy. Lowering the cost of borrowing capital for businesses – to be profitable –  is critical. Both are essential if we are going to invest in new and efficient power and heating stations and smarter living technologies, to solve Ulaanbaatar's pollution problem. Again, here the long term commitment to restructure and improve public finance is crucial.

The government urgently needs to accelerate the next stage of economic recovery. We need to harness the business sector and excite international financiers, promoters and investors about the prospects and returns from establishing business in Mongolia. This cannot be done on a basis of IMF bailout alone. Real and credible actions are needed to kick start the key projects.

Mongolia's natural endowments are minerals and agriculture. Mongolians have a rich culture and the world shares a curiosity in Mongolia's history. Mongolians in general are not isolationists. However, Mongolia does not have a large population so we must be smart in how we build external markets to attract and underpin new business ventures. We need to be even smarter in how we attract and retain our future business partners and those who will fund future grand enterprises.

Initiating large-projects (whether in mining, energy, infrastructure or agriculture) is the quickest way to stimulate economic growth, but this does not always have a broad impact on incomes or employment. Mongolian officials have unfortunately struggled in building good relationships with in-country investors and building confidence with offshore investors. The Prime Minister has stated that addressing this is a key focus for this government.

Mongolia needs to build a strong and credible case for "why business should focus on investing in Mongolia" – as opposed to other countries with similar opportunities.

The much-needed private sector investment will come when the correct conditions are in place. If these conditions are not attractive – compared to our competitors – the level of incoming investment will not be large.

This must be the next most critical task rapidly advanced by the government. It is not easy work, but critical to get right

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Politics & Legal

Defacto Review, March 19

March 20 (Jargal Defacto) Reviewed topics:

1. Parliament delays bailout session

2. New mining investments

3. DP faces headwinds

4. Mongolian peacekeepers rescue

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Budget amendment bill submitted by Finance Minister

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) Today, March 24, Finance Minister B.Choijilsuren submitted a bill on 2017 Budget Amendment to Parliament Speaker M.Enkhbold. The budget amednment has been developed within the framework of policy measures to realize IMF's Extended Fund Facility program.

Some policy measures are reflected in the bill on budget adjustment as planned in the scope of the program, stated Finance Minister B.Choijilsuren. Those include:

1. Excise tax on cigarettes, tobacco, vodka and alcoholic beverages and similar items as well as customs duty on imported cigarettes will be increased

2. Excise tax on petroleum and diesel will be up within limits indicated in relevant law.

3. Excise tax on passenger car will be up. 

4. Individual Income tax will have tax brackets.

5. Start enforcement of tax on savings interest

6. Social insurance contributions will be raised. 

In reducing budget expenditure, the Ministry adhered to principles to have social welfare focus on targeted group with low income, to lower additional loads to the budget caused by changes in population structure and legal reform, to renew pension system, to link salary to budget capability and improve efficiency of expenditures.

1. Efficiency of procurement of medicine and medical materials should be improved.

2. Retirement age will be raised in stages in line with changes in formation of population age and senior employment will be supported.

3. To increase the number of small and medium enterprises to back economic activation and to provide people with jobs; to start meat and milk campaigns in agriculture and continue 'Cultivation-III' campaign

4. Current salary level of state employees will be kept till the end of 2018 in order to avoid discharging public employees in time of economic and financial difficulties and new appointments should not be made to replace the released employees from public service according to their rights till the end of 2019.

5. Child allowance will be distributed only to targeted group and the allowance will not be refunded.

6. Families of targeted group will be supported with food supply and social welfare programs will be merged and actions to make them proper will be started.

7. Some new laws will be changed as they would influence to increase budget expenditure.

As a result of these measures, total revenue of the 2017 state budget will be MNT6.015.7 billion or equal to 23.1 per cent of GDP and expenditure will be MNT8.789.8 billion or equal to 33.7 per cent of GDP, making the budget deficit MNT2.774.1 billion or equal to 10.6 per cent of GDP, introduced Finance Minister B.Choijilsuren.

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Related:

Budget amendments to raise taxesMontsame, March 24

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Prime Minister meets with state administrative leadership

March 22 (UB Post) On Monday, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat met with heads of state administrative organizations and state-owned enterprises to discuss strengthening discipline. The Prime Minister pointed out that the new Cabinet has been working to bring about a consolidated state budget.

He told the state administrators, "We have uncovered a number of cases involving illegal budget spending by evaluating projects being implemented through concession agreements and bond financing."

He noted that regaining the trust of foreign investors is a positive result of the work the new Cabinet has carried out over the past several months. He added that the current economic challenges arise from unregulated spending, so avoiding the repetition of past mistakes is important.

The PM stressed that state officials should always remember that the government is not an institution that should make an official's business successful and help them make more money. He said that if someone views the government in this way, that person should resign immediately.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said that when heads of state administrative organizations and state-owned enterprises go on working visits abroad, they must travel by economy class, which Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat will monitor.

The PM added that he has instructed the Cabinet Secretariat to make sure that visits are less expensive, and noted that the salaries of the heads of state administrative organizations and state-owned enterprises have been decreased by 30 to 60 percent.

He also instructed the Head of the Government Agency for Policy Coordination on State Property to cut state spending without cutting necessities. For example, all the heads of state administrative organizations in districts, provinces, and soums have been prohibited from organizing ceremonies for the presentation of official seals and for when officials leave office.

The Premier called on state officials and the public to tighten spending. He added that the state will provide targeted groups with welfare distribution through a transparent system as other countries do.

The PM stated that the International Monetary Fund has offered the Government of Mongolia the chance to harness its financial discipline, but that it will be impossible to practice financial discipline without political discipline. He noted, "Maintaining friendly relations and political stability will be of great importance to overcoming the nation's economic difficulties, so we will fight activities that are against national interests and justice."

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Quote of the day: We must overcome both the economic crisis and corruption

March 21 (Mongolian Economy) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat met with the authorities of public administrative bodies and state-owned enterprises to give assignments. It has been eight months since the PM's appointment and seven months since Mongolian People's Party's government was established. The prime minister said that this government worked like "volunteer workers" that do not earn anything at all after reviewing the works done to date. Hence, we are highlighting some of the tough words he said during the meeting.

-When we took up the job, many countries took Mongolia's budget deficit as a bad example.

-Now, Mongolia does not have bond debt that needs to repaid urgently, and USD 580 million debt issue was fully resolved. The economy which was spiraling out of control is now in control, and we were able to ignite a spark for the foreign investors who were leaving and losing faith in our country.

-The economic difficulties are not over, although it has been transferred from the intensive care unit to a normal ward.

-As of today, only the mining sector is capable of attracting foreign investment into Mongolia.

-I feel as a prime minister as well as a citizen that the Mongolian people want a just society and a strong government more than any amount of money.

-Let me say it again: the main burden of the economic recovery policy and programs to handle the crisis will fall on us, public officials.

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Fulfillment of 2016 socio-economic general guidelines at 61 percent

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) Around 61 percent of the "General Guidelines for Socioeconomic Development of Mongolia for 2016", which reflects 5 policies, 22 objectives and 158 measures are fulfilled by the end of 2016. Out of the 158 measures, 19 were fully completed, while 39 were at 90 percent, 23 were at 70 percent, 33 were at 50 percent and the rest were under 30 percent.

The report indicated that realization of macro-economic policy was at 64.3 percent, policy to spur economic development at 52.5, policy of local and regional development and environment was at 59.6 percent, human and social development policies were at 67.9 percent and policies concerning the governance and legal reforms and foreign and defense sector were at 64.6 percent.

The Cabinet gave some orders to reflect assets and funding needed for the achievement of objectives and measures of the General Guidelines in the State Budget, demanding the government budget administrators to formulate detailed plans for objectives they are responsible and to set realistic goals in the given year.

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Composition of National Council of border checkpoint approved

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) During its regular meeting held on March 21, the Cabinet approved members of the National Council of the border checkpoint. Minister of Finance was assigned as a head of the council and its members consist of Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and heads of Customs, Border Protection, Professional Inspection and Immigration agencies, National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mongolian Logistics Association.

The council has authority to establish and expand border ports, draw up proposals on the solution to infrastructural matters, issue recommendation on border inspection and activities of border checkpoints and approve guidelines and regulations on improvement and development of border checkpoints and investment plans. The council should submit certain issues to the Cabinet for discussion if necessary, and is obliged to report to the Cabinet.

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Mongolia: New Poll Shows Declining Optimism, Continued Economic Concerns

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 22 (IRI)—A nationwide poll released today by the International Republican Institute's (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research reveals a decline in the optimism reflected in IRI's August 2016 survey, and reinforces public concerns over the economy and corruption.

"IRI's previous poll appeared to reflect good will towards the newly-elected government following the parliamentary election in June 2016," said Derek Luyten, IRI regional director for Asia. "This poll indicates that the honeymoon period is over. Now more than ever, the government must be responsive and craft policies that address the concerns of the Mongolian people."

Respondents who feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction jumped 10 points to 57 percent, while the number who said the country is headed in the right direction dropped nine points (from 31 to 22 percent). Thirty-nine percent of respondents who feel the country is headed in the wrong direction cited the reasons are, "economic instability and income inequality."

Survey respondents continue to express dissatisfaction with the economy: a combined 82 percent describe the economic situation as either "bad" (52 percent) or "very bad" (30 percent). Corruption is also consistently cited as an issue of concern, with 72 percent describing it as a "major problem," and 27 percent reporting that they or someone they know had been asked for a bribe by a civil servant.

Although a majority of respondents agree that women are equally represented in political decision making in Mongolia, 63 percent of respondents either "strongly" (21 percent) or "somewhat" (42 percent) agreed that political parties should be doing more to promote women to positions of leadership.

Methodology

This survey was conducted on behalf of IRI by the Social Policy Development Research Institute (SPDRI) under the supervision of Chesapeake Beach Consulting between January 23 and February 5, 2017. The project is funded by the Government of Canada.

Data was collected through in-person, in-home interviews from a sample of 5,000 respondents aged 18 and older, with a response rate of 97.2 percent. The sample was stratified by 13 of Mongolia's 21 aimags (provinces) and Ulaanbaatar and then subdivided by soum (town) or district.  Interviews were conducted in both urban and rural locations.

The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 1.4 percent at the mid-range with a confidence level of 95 percent. This data has been compiled in accordance with international standards for market and social research methodologies.  Figures in charts and tables may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

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Mongolians tell Government to prioritize national interests in IRI poll

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) 54 percent of Mongolians believe that Mongolia is headed in a wrong direction and identify wrong economic policy as main reason, reveals International Republican Institute's most recent nationwide poll conducted in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada in Mongolia to ascertain public opinion following the 2016 General Elections.

82 percent of the 5000 participants of the poll chosen from 21 aimags and 9 districts rated current economic conditions of the country 'bad' and 'very bad', which is a similar stance showed by IRI's previous poll. Similarly with the previous one, the recent poll indicates that the Mongolian people are deeply concerned with corruption which they believe to be spreading in private sectors as well.

IRI's previous poll conducted prior to the Elections reflected optimism and hope in democratic system. "The last poll disclosed that Mongolians considered poverty, unemployment and increase in commodities price to be major problems. Interestingly, we found that some people consider air pollution and foreign debt to be the most urgent problems after this poll", said Ashleigh Whelan, IRI's Resident Representative to Mongolia.

The Mongolian people also expressed their approval on increased women participation in politics. Majority of the participants conveyed to the Government to prioritize the national interests of Mongolia.

"Canada has actively contributed to development of democratic values in Mongolia for the last 25 years", said Canadian Ambassador to Mongolian Ed Jager during a press conference held on March 23 to publicize the results of the poll. He also appreciated the increasing representation of women in Mongolian Parliament. The current Parliament has the highest representation of women.

IRI plans to conduct another poll after the Presidential Election which is to take place in June.

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Public supervisory sub-council to be formed at ministries and agencies

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) A public supervisory sub-council was established with a composition of three members, adhering to a 'National program on combating corruption' approved by Parliament. The sub-council should be formed under branches of Coordinating Council for Crime Prevention at the ministries and agencies.

The sub-council's goal is to increase public involvement in activities for corruption prevention and to supervise government organizations' activities and officials' ethics. Moreover, they will control whether public officials have claimed their declarations on personal interest and income correctly and make the declarations transparent in accordance with the law.

People, who are interested in being a member of a Public supervisory sub-council should meet several criteria, including having high education and work experience in finance, economy, accountant or property assessment. He/she also should have not worked in the organization, which he/she was going to conduct supervision, under labor agreement or outcome agreement for the last two years.  Interested persons without political party membership and who is not under any legal punishment, should apply to the Independent Authority Against Corruption.

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Mongolia ranks 136th in Happy Planet Index

March 23 (gogo.mn) Mongolia, a landlocked country with a population of around 3.2 million people achieves a Happy Planet Index Score of 14.3 and ranks 136th out of the 140 countries analysed at its 2016 edition. The country lists in the top 10 unhappy countries, "Bottom 10" and "Bottom in Region" awards. 

The Happy Planet Index measures what matters: sustainable wellbeing for all. It tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives. 

In this calculation, the most successful countries are those where people live long and happy lives at little cost to the environment.

According to the index, life expectancy in Mongolia is 68.6 years which ranked 95th while well being in Mongolia scored 4.9 out of 10. Moreover scores for eco-foorprint is 6.1 global hectares per person and inequality in the country is 22 percent which might due to human rights abuses. 

But at the other side, Costa Rica tops the ranking for the third time. It is the happiest and most sustainable country on Earth, according to the Happy Planet Index.

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Mongolia's Energy Regulator strengthens efforts to increase energy efficiency

ULAANBAATAR – March 20, 2017 (Global Green Growth Initiative) – GGGI and the Energy Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (ERC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on green growth cooperation. The ERC is cooperating with GGGI in implementing Mongolia's Energy Conservation Law and unlocking green growth opportunities through targeted energy savings.

During the MoU signing ceremony, Mr. Tleikhan Almalik, Director-General of the ERC, highlighted the potential advantages of energy savings for businesses, households, and government entities alike.

"International cooperation with GGGI and other development partners has the potential to accelerate Mongolia's implementation of energy saving measures, while avoiding the challenges faced in other countries," stated Mr. Almalik. "Every energy user has the potential to put money back in their pockets through targeted energy upgrades to buildings and equipment as well as simple behavior changes."

In December 2016, ERC announced the first batch of so-called "designated entities" whose consumption of heat and, or electricity exceeded the threshold set by the government for conservation potential. Under the Energy Conservation Law, the ERC is responsible for monitoring the efforts of designated entities to undergo energy auditing and report on energy reduction measures implemented.

Under Mongolia's Green Development Policy, State Policy on Energy, and INDCs to the Paris Agreement, Mongolia has targeted 40% reductions in building heat loss and 43% reduction of electricity transmission losses by 2030.

Under the MoU, GGGI will support the ERC through technical and advisory services across four key areas, including:

  • Formulation of the National Energy Conservation Programme 2017-2020 (NECP);
  • Preparation of bankable green energy projects, beginning with industrial energy efficiency;
  • Development of incentives for renewable energy, energy conservation, and energy efficiency; and
  • Sharing and dissemination of institutional knowledge and experience.

The NECP is a first-of-its-kind policy instrument in Mongolia intended to increase the competitiveness of industry as well as generate savings for small businesses and households. Critically, energy efficiency measures are an important component of the Government's efforts to reduce urban air pollution, stemming largely from the combustion of raw coal for household and small business heating.

To highlight the multi-stakeholder effort to tackle Mongolia's air pollution crisis and shift to a green growth model, GGGI in collaboration with the Government of Mongolia produced a short-film. Mongolia's Stories of Change film showcases how the landlocked nation is working to transform its economy for sustainability and inclusion. The Mongolia Transition to Green Development film is the seventh in GGGI's Stories of Change series.

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Jargal Defacto: There is no refraining from default

March 26 (UB Post) The entire world can see that Mongolia's government is unable to move, shackled by its internal and external debts. Our government has barely managed to avoid declaring default by negotiating with investors and basically replacing the Development Bank loan of 580 million USD with the long-term Khuraldai bond, which has a higher interest rate.

The key to avoiding a significant crisis was the agreement on our participation in an extended fund facility program, made at an operational level between Mongolia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the plan to approve the IMF deal during a special session of Parliament this month, required to get approval for enrollment from the IMF executive board, has changed.

The executive committee of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) made a political decision, and said, "The parliament will not have an extraordinary session. It will be discussed during the parliamentary session scheduled for April along with budget amendments."

The reason why they made this decision is connected to their expectation that the IMF's conditions to increase taxes and reduce budget expenditure will not be favorable in the opinion of voters. This is a political concern in light of the presidential election being held in three months' time.

Also, demand for the Khuraldai bond was five times higher than what was expected. It got our politicians' heads spinning, the same ones who are now thinking of backing out of the IMF deal. What will this lead to? How can Mongolians break free from the debt chain?

DE FACTO INSOLVENCY

There is a strong likelihood that the reckless MPs from the MPP, who believe that the economy can be repaired by political means, will refrain from approving enrollment in the extended fund facility (EFF) program. They are increasingly thinking about the upcoming presidential election and taking into account the end of mining's downturn with an outlook for a growth period, an increase in gold extraction, and the extension of the currency swap agreement with China. Also, they tend to believe that there is strong demand in the external market if the government issues new bonds.

It would have been impossible to issue the Khuraldai bond if the government had not reached an agreement on the EFF program with the IMF at an operational level. The Khuraldai bond, worth 600 million USD, sold out quickly only because investors estimated that Mongolia would improve its financial and economic situation by participating in the IMF program and meet its debt obligations with 5.5 billion USD coming into the country.

There was an order to buy 3.3 billion USD in bonds only because banks such as JP Morgan and Credit Suisse, who worked as underwriters for the Khuraldai bond, guaranteed that Mongolia would be able to successfully issue it.

If Parliament refrains from enrolling in the EFF program, Mongolia's reputation will be completely tarnished on the international scene, and the government will never be able to raise capital from foreign markets again. It will then cause Mongolia to declare a de facto default when the time comes for the government to pay off the 500 million USD debt for the Chinggis bond in January next year.

Withdrawal would also embolden the investors who purchased Khuraldai bonds to sue the Mongolian government and the underwriting banks for giving false information and misleading investors.

The people must know what the consequences will be if the country declares default. The consequences are grave, and would slow down our development for decades. First, the country would completely lose its reputation, resulting in no one being able to trust the government again. There is also a risk of capital and cash abroad being impacted, and state-owned aircraft would be the first state property to be impounded. Second, the country would become fully isolated from the international financial market. Neither the government nor the private sector would be able to raise loans from abroad if the sovereign credit rating hit the floor.

If the flow of foreign capital into Mongolia stops, the tugrug will weaken and lose its value. People would start taking their savings out of banks before their cash became worthless. It would trigger the government to exact capital control, restricting the business hours of banks and limiting the amount of cash an individual could withdraw from the bank per day. When people start racing with each other to turn their cash into goods, there will be shortage of goods and materials on the market, which will result in price increases and a hike in inflation. Soon, the government would have no choice but to print money. For example, Zimbabwe printed so much cash that they produced a 100 billion note. When the government starts printing more money, we will be carrying our cash in wheelbarrows instead of wallets, and it won't be enough to buy a loaf of bread. It would start monetary reform, marking the beginning of a new economic cycle. While all this happens, the corrupt will put their foreign currency into offshore accounts. Everyone will be trying to get their cash for an escape abroad. The poor would be supporting some type of dictator and spending the rest of their lives begging for foreign aid.

HOW TO BREAK FREE FROM THE GREAT DEBT CHAIN?

Mongolian political parties have spent years promising people non-existent wealth, distributing cash, and buying votes. As mining income increased, they kept acquiring more loans, and the government became corrupt. Because of corruption, the powerful few were the only ones to gain and become wealthier from natural resources, and they borrowed more and more money. It appears that when the time comes to pay off the debt of the wealthy, the people are the only ones left standing for accountability, while the politicians who benefitted from the loans are nowhere to be found. It looks like the current government will be closing one debt by taking on another loan, sending the country deeper into a bottomless swamp.

In order to break free from the chains of huge debt, we have no option but to stop corruption and free our economy. Mongolia has become a bucket with holes. When there are holes, the bucket will never become full, no matter how much water is poured into it. Similarly, Mongolia's economy will not recover as long as there is corruption – regardless of how much foreign capital and loan financing flows in. Therefore, our top priority must be fixing the nation's holes and getting rid of corruption. The deep-seated corruption in all government institutions traces back to our political parties. In a country where the people cannot oversee the government they have elected at all levels, public governance becomes corrupt and the country will face demise.

The experiences of some countries suggest that there are three phases to stopping corruption. First of all, you must catch the corruption "tigers", hold them accountable under the law, seize their properties, and pay back the damage that was done to the public. This helps scare the "flies", and government officers would start avoiding bribes and corruption, which will send the right message to the people. The next step is to set up capable institutions that prevent corruption. Such institutions would ensure that even if a government officer wants to receive a bribe, it is not possible. The third phase is to achieve a state where government officials cannot fathom engaging in corruption and do not feel the need to commit the act. While our southern neighbor is already in its second phase, Mongolia has not even really started its fight against corruption, despite being full of words and promises. Our people are frustrated about the current situation and have started expressing it in various ways.

As we fight corruption, we need to fully transition our economy to market principles. We should free up all the prices that we can, ensure that the market sets prices, direct social care to those who do not have purchasing power, privatize state-owned companies, reduce the expenditures of public governance, and increase the effectiveness of our government institutions. When doing all these tasks, the latest technology should be deployed creatively. Mongolia can pay its debt back fully only when we stop corruption and make our economy competitive. But can Mongolians do it? Dear MPs, you might be able to avoid the IMF's EFF deal, but you can never avoid imminent default.

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Meet the new "boss"!

March 20 (Sodon blog) Former communists are back!  Unfortunately. They won the Parliament's election last year securing 65 seats of 76 in the Parliament. As soon as they got to the power, they began to position their  party-members for the important government jobs based on how much they contributed to the party. An audio record has leaked to the media during the election campaign- a conversation of three  high-ranking members,talking about the scheme how they have planned to raise money and how they would distribute the jobs after the victory. They were: M.Enkhbold, the  Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) , now Chairman of the Parliament, (more here), Ts.Sandui, the head of the Capital city  MPP branch (more here ), now the Chairman of the Citizen's Council of the Capital city,  and  A.Ganbaatar, Ts.Sandui's aide.  They planned to "raise" 90 billion MNT (Mongolian Turgik-official currency of Mongolia) by requiring everybody to donate certain amount of money depending on what job they will get after the election. Literally everybody the party has planned to fill the position, from the senior rank to the head post. That way they put price tags to every leading postion in the government agencies and organisation. In other words, they sold government jobs. MPP members who paid the money are 100 percent sure that they can multiply that amount later on once they get the job by taking bribes and selling their signatures.

MPP has fired thousands of former government employees after their victory to  hire  their  own people. That means lot of people lost their jobs because of their party affiliation or being not a member of this political party.  The "boss", M.Enkhbold became the Chairman of the Parliament,as mentioned above, but not the Prima Minister as he should be, and Ts.Sandui became the number One person of the Capital city. They chose J.Erdenebat , former Finance Minister (2014-2015), to become the new Prime Minister, but now it has surfaced that he was not free from sin when he  was Finance Minister back then. He signed and made decisions which harmed Mongolia, especially the one concerning the over-expenditure  of 2 billion USD by Oyutolgoi company.

Ironically enough, MPP appointed B.Choijilsuren as the new Finance Minister who is a mechanic by profession. He managed to get elected twice from his countryside district by handing out cash money to the voters in the previous elections. There is even a video on YouTube where he is handing cash to people who gathered together in a meeting hall during his election campaign.

The new Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh lived in Australia for a long period of time and came back to be awarded  with  this "present". He  didn't  risk to run for MP , maybe he wasn't sure that his party would win, but he got his piece of cake anyway. One time  he punched  a MP from the Democratic Party back then when he was MP once, taking him out to the hallway inside the Parliament after an argument  and  knocked him down   with his "iron fist".  It seems  like he loves to boast  of his physical strenghth. Recently he  posted a video on Facebook showing him  performing a bench press, lifting 200 kg.

The  new Foreign Minister's name is Ts.Munkh-Orgil who should be held responsible for the death of 5 men killed during the after-election-riot in 2008, allegedly by the police shooting. He was then the Minister  for Justice and Home Affairs.  The Prime Minister then was S.Bayar about whom we are going to talk here more. But both S.Bayar and Ts.Munkh-Orgil got away without any punishment.

The new Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Science is Yo.Otgonbayar who was once the head of this Ministry  some years ago.  Rumor says that he used to take bribes for giving  permissions when he was the head of this Ministry himself.  He hired  even some guys to intimidate a man once because he refused to bribe Otgonbayar for a permission. When Otgonbayar  was the Minister, his wife was arrested and questioned for suspicious transactions from many bank accounts which she owned. The number of accounts were significant as well as the number of  transactions  and the amount of money. Soon they let her go and  this case became silent since then. She had many MNT and USD accounts, and since she was not a big businesswoman running a big profitable company or something like that, the sources of her money are very questionable . One would logically suspect that her husband  could be the source of her "wealth".

Just recently the new Ambassador of Mongolia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland  presented his diplomatic credentials to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, as 13th  Mongolian Ambassador.

His name is Bayar Sanjaa. He  served once as Mongolia's  Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2001-2005) and worked as Prime Minister of Mongolia (2007-2009). Born 1956, he is divorced three times and has 6 children from 3 women. For more information, please check here.

When Britain's Queen Elizabeth greeted him, he was attended by his 4th wife, Suvd Erdenebileg. Mongolians detest if one marries a woman of much younger age,  12  or more years younger.
So our "Don Juan" has a "brand new" wife who is the same age as his middle daughter. Just saying.

There is a TV talk show in Mongolia called "Chat without censorship"  and S.Bayar was once asked on this show about allegedly his seven (7) houses (apartments) in the US but he denied that he owns any property in the States. Now it became clear that two of those 7 properties were registered on his new wife's name. Suvd also owns three (3) companies in the US. Remarkable, isn't it? She is born in 1981, so at a age of 36 she's got lots of money! How could she became a dollar-millionaire when nobody knew her? The logical answer  would be: Thanks to her lover, now husband!

Now, we should ask this question , "Where the hell S.Bayar got all that money to buy 7 houses in the US, when his income was not more than 100 thousand dollars per year?  He only can answer this question. Everybody else suspects that he's got the money the wrong way, like many other Mongolian corrupt politicians. Let's get some details.

It is possible that those 3 companies ("Nebo", "Voda", "Gundel") owned by Bayar's new wife and the one ("Dechin) owned by one of Bayar's daughters  are being used  for money laundering because the use of LLC is one of the methods to "clean" the dirty money. And of course buying such properties with cash money is also an another way to "shake off" any  traces.  Even though Suvd E. was registered as "manager", those companies were created by her, so it may be very possible that those companies are owned by this woman. The name "Nebo" means "Sky" and "Voda" means "Water", both in Russian. Since S.Bayar is fluent in Russian and as a  Russian-educated person, he is very fond of Russia and that may have influenced to suggest his new wife to give her companies Russian names.

Thanks to the open public records which one can obtain online , all properties were or are still registered on either his ex-wife's name or his daughters' names. Let's see what houses or apartments we are talking about:

Some Mongolia's politicians opened offshore accounts abroad and thanks to "John Doe" we know now who they are. Bayar's daughter  Badamkhand Bayar is among those people. The understanding is that offshore accounts can be used as the safe heaven to hide the dirty money and that is why one can be suspect that these accounts could be connected to S.Bayar.

That is how it looks like  with the new, or what our communists praise- the "professional" Government. They are in the first year of their 4-year term but what they do now is mostly to defame the former Government, the predecessor, formed by Democratic Party which lost the last election.

Time will show how they can manage it to run the country. The history in the past 25 years where they had mostly the power in the most of the years shows that they were incapable or were not willing to do it good for the country instead of getting rich personally. The proof is today's mess they created and problems they failed to address or were unable to fix in the past. I don't expect a better picture too, this time, but if that is what we have to go through, then just be it. Things are learned sometimes the hard way and that is what we are experiencing now. Sadly.

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Mongolia: Electoral Law for State Great Hural and Presidential Elections (2016) – Unofficial Translation

(ACE Electoral Knowledge Network)

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A Comparative Study of Private Security Regulations of Mongolia, Belgium and the United Kingdom

by Galbat Lkhagvamaa, Julak Lee

January 13 (Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Management Studies) --

Abstract

Regulation of the private security industry in Mongolia is relatively recent with the first specific legislation dating back to 2000. In 2000, the State Great Hural (Parliament of Mongolia) passed the Law on Contracted Private Security Service and has been revised twice, by which 'modern' private security was legally born. The aim of this study is to compare and evaluate the regulation of private security in the Mongolia, Belgium and the United Kingdom. In particular, this study illustrates the differences which exist in the level of regulation governing the operation of the industry in these countries in four areas such as areas covered private security companies, entrance requirement for companies, restriction on the background of owner/management, restriction on the background of employee, training/education. The comparative study of the three countries shows an imperative need to make further amendments to the Law on Contracted Private Security Service. According to the findings, this study proposes the direction for constructive amendments to strengthen the Law on Contracted Private Security Service.

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Authors & Affiliations

Galbat Lkhagvamaa | Professor, Law Enforcement University Mongolia

Julak Lee | Professor, Kyonggi University  Korea, Republic of

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Prime Minister visits Khovd Province on western aimags tour

March 24 (UB Post) On March 23, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat arrived in Khovd, the capital of Khovd Province, one of the key stops on his tour through the western provinces.

The PM and his accompanying delegation of Cabinet and Parliament members met with Khovd's residents to talk about the implementation of the government's action plan and the nation's overall economic situation, and to listen to residents' opinions on the government's operations.

PM J.Erdenebat noted that the new Cabinet has executed a number of initiatives and activities to promote national manufacturing and to deal with the country's economic challenges since July, and, as a result, foreign investors are trusting in Mongolian investment again.

He added that coal exporting companies were not carrying out consistent policy in practices and trade, so the new government started working to bring them together under a united yet competitive policy.

Coal exporters are now selling coal at higher prices in foreign markets, indicating a positive result of the work of the new Cabinet.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Government of Mongolia will pay off its debt to Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (CHALCO) soon. He added that the government is holding a strict stance on tightening spending, and noted that he has gone abroad only once since entering office.

The residents of Khovd said that promoting the agricultural sector, increasing the import of livestock products, and maintaining welfare programs are important to the public. Prime Minister J.Erdenebat noted that the government is working to support the agricultural sector in producing organic food, to increase livestock product export, and to produce energy in Mongolia.

The Prime Minister visited the Western Regional Center for Medical Diagnoses and Treatment.

During his visit to the medical center, he highlighted that Asian Development Bank will help providing financing for the expansion of the center, which has become critical to providing residents of the western provinces with access to medical treatment using modern medical equipment.

He also noted that the Belgian government will provide Mongolia with a soft loan to carry out the two-year Western Region Diagnosis and Treatment Center Enhancement Project in Khovd Province.

Khovd Province's leadership introduced the Prime Minister to projects being implemented in the region. They noted that mining companies are operating at the Khushuut coal mine in Tsetseg soum, and that gold mining companies are operating at three different mine sites. The province's leadership asked the Prime Minister to help the region's gold miners take part in the government's Gold-2 Program.

PM J.Erdenebat underlined that construction of a 260 kilometer road from Khovd to Govi-Altai and Bayankhongor provinces will be complete this year.

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Single parents of Arkhangai to be backed with employment

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) A project to support single mothers, named "Bright future" has launched in Arkhangai aimag with financing from the Government of Finland and Foreign Affairs Ministry. The project of MNT667 million will be implemented in 2017 and 2018 by FLOM international organization in 7 soums of the aimag, namely Erdenebulgan, Tsengher, Khotont, Khashaat, Tariat, Ikhtamir and Chuluut soums.

The project aims to make single mothers with low income have financial guarantee, support their employment through providing them with more access to the labor market. Even though focus will be single mothers, the project also involve single fathers, young couples and junior girls. According to statistical data, Arkhangai aimag has a total of 2780 single parents, 1329 out of them in the 7 soums. 

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 20, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Cabinet Secretariat says certain social welfare programs will not be cut

Summary: Cabinet Secretariat J. Munkhbat met with residents of Bayangol District and introduced the implementation of government programs and the current economic situation. J. Munkhbat noted that the when the new government took office, the economy was in a very difficult situation and the state's budget deficit was high. Due to the economic situation, the government negotiated with the IMF through more than 10 meetings and was able to reach an agreement on a financing program. By implementing the program, the financial health of the state budget and of the private sector are expected to recover and fiscal discipline will be put in place. With the implementation of the IMF program, Mongolia is set to receive a 5.5 billion USD foreign financing package, and in order to effectively implement the program, Mongolia is required to make amendments to decrease the state's expenditure and increase revenue. Cabinet supported increasing taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and luxury items, such as the purchase of automobiles with a value of more than 100 million MNT. The government successfully negotiated the retention of programs that grant state aid to seniors and new mothers.

Keywords: Cabinet, social welfare, state budget | The Official Gazette /page 2/


ECONOMY

Bank of Mongolia to maintain its monetary policy rate  

Summary: The Monetary Policy Committee of Bank of Mongolia convened and voted to keep its monetary policy rate at 14%. The inflation rate revealed in the Consumer Price Index is 2.1% on a national level and 1.4% in Ulaanbaatar. The committee stated that the inflation level is expected to rise slowly, but that it will not exceed target levels. Short-term loan debt decreased due to the exchange of Development Bank's 580 million USD Euro bond for the new government-backed Khuraldai bond and the successful extension of the local currency swap line agreement with the People's Bank of China. Bank of Mongolia stated that even though there are positive developments in the economic and financial markets, the position of the nation in the foreign market and its 2017 budget are still unclear. After Parliament discusses 2017 budget amendments and the Board of Directors of the IMF approves Mongolia's participation in an extended fund facility program, Bank of Mongolia is expected to revisit the nation's monetary policy.

Keywords: Bank of Mongolia, monetary policy | The Century News /page 1/


Commercial bank assets increased in February

Summary: The total assets of 16 commercial banks reached 25.1 trillion MNT in February, an increase of 223 billion MNT compared to January. Commercial banks granted 12.5 trillion MNT in loans, 10.1 trillion MNT and the equivalent to 2.4 trillion MNT in foreign currency. Around one trillion MNT in loans were categorized as non-performing. The total reserve assets of the banks was 2.5 trillion MNT. The central bank's securities were 0.6 trillion MNT and its foreign assets were 2 trillion MNT, while the government's securities reached 3.4 trillion MNT. The personal assets of the commercial banks increased to 3.1 trillion MNT and collective profits reached 66 billion MNT.

Keywords: banking, assets | Today /page B1/


Import of automobiles increases

Summary: In the first two months of 2017, Mongolia imported 31.5 million USD in automobiles, an increase of 18% compared to last year. Mongolia's vehicle imports from Japan increased by 4 million USD compared to 2016. Automobile imports from South Korea and Germany increased, while imports from the U.S.A. and Great Britain decreased. The import of trucks doubled compared to last year, and the import of public transportation vehicles also showed an increase. Around 7,400 vehicles were imported in January and February, an increase of around 1,800 compared to the same period last year.

Keywords: automobiles, imports | Today /page B1/


ONLINE STORY

Golomt Bank to cooperate with EBRD to offer business consulting services

Summary: In order to support businesses and help them to develop by providing consulting services and introducing customers to the importance of the service, Golomt Bank cooperated with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and organized the Business Consulting Services Forum. Golomt Bank is partnering with EBRD to provide consulting services to around 100,000 registered business and 50,000 active business to help them develop assessments of the domestic and international business environments, financing options, human resource management, and the other challenges that businesses face.

Keywords: Golomt Bank, EBRD, business development | www.ikon.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 21, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Prime Minister says economic recovery is coming

Summary: Prime Minster J. Erdenebat met with government officials and introduced recent developments and legislation. The PM highlighted that there is one consolidated budget to maintain fiscal discipline to prevent any fiscal irresponsibility and the confusion caused by multiple budgets. The PM announced the results of the government's measures to revitalize the economy through cutting expenditures from the budget and supporting domestic companies. He highlighted that for the first time since 2012, in preliminary performance estimates, state revenue exceeded 504 billion MNT, the trade deficit turned into foreign trade with revenue of 1.6 billion USD, and for the first time in four years, the foreign currency reserve increased.

The PM noted that Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi's debt to Chalco will be fully repaid this month and future revenue from the East Tsankhii Mine will go to the state. The price of Tavan Tolgoi's coal was 27 USD per ton, but with the government's call for transparency, the price rose to an all-time high of 72.5 USD per ton. The PM also highlighted that Mongolia was able to clear the expectation of default by swapping Development Bank's 580 million USD Euro bond,  and was successfully able to green light the recovery of the economy and give the go-ahead for investors to return.

The Prime Minister strongly reminded government officials to keep tight budgets and not to spend capital on unnecessary expenditures and celebrations. He noted that during these hard times, it is essential for officials to get back on track and for the government to maintain frugality. The PM warned the directors of state-owned companies to keep their businesses profitable, and if they are unable to do so, they should resign and appoint someone who can. The government reduced the salaries and bonuses of executives at state-owned companies. He also encouraged citizens to keep a frugal budget and maintain monetary discipline.

Keywords: Prime Minister, economy | The Official Gazette /page 2/


State-owned factory to be built to process crude oil

Summary: Cabinet convened and voted to establish a state-owned factory to process crude oil. Mongolia imports 100% of its oil and other petroleum products, spending around 1 billion USD annually to import 1-1.2 million tons of fuel. Within the general agreement on a loan between Export-Import Bank of India and Government of Mongolia, the project is to be implemented. The Prime Minister called for a working group to be established to research the technical and financial aspects of the project, as well as the proposed structure and by-laws of the state-owned company that would be established to oversee the factory's operations.

Keywords: crude oil, factory, Cabinet | National Post /page 1/


ECONOMY

3.9 million Mongolian debit cards in circulation

Summary: On average, there are 179,700 transactions conducted with debit cards each day, adding up to 7.7 billion MNT. According to the central bank, in 2016, 65.6 million card transactions for 2.6 trillion MNT between banks took place. On a national level, there are 3.9 million debit cards in circulation, with 70.5% in Ulaanbaatar and 29.5% in the provinces. At the end of 2016, 2.7 million people were using mobile banking (67% of all debit card holders), and internet banking was used by 1.1 million people. As the number of users of internet and mobile banking increases, internet sales are also increasing. In 2016, 278,000 transactions worth 24.7 billion MNT took place. In 1995, Mongolia created a legal framework for non-cash payments, and in 1999, the first Mongolian debit card service was introduced.

Keywords: debit cards, commercial banks, banking system | The Official Gazette /page 11/


Exports and imports increased in January and February 

Summary: According to statistics released by Bank of Mongolia, in the first two months of 2017, exports increased by 34.6% to reach 212 million USD compared to the same period last year. The increased export of minerals was the main factor behind the increase. In the same period, imports increased by 39.5%, equaling 138.9 million USD. The increase was primarily impacted by an increase in the import of oil products. The import of consumer products decreased slightly compared to the same period last year.

Keywords: import, export, Bank of Mongolia | Century News /page 5/


ONLINE STORY

The remaining debt for Development Bank's bond has been paid

Summary: The repayment of Development Bank's five-year 580 million USD Euro Bond has been paid. Last month, 475.9 million USD of the 580 million USD bond notes were exchanged for the government-backed Khuraldai bond. Repayment for the remaining debt was made with 124 million USD raised from the Khuraldai Bond, 104 million USD and around 3 million USD in interest. The demand for the Khuraldai bond is high on the secondary market and the price stands at 108 USD with expectations that it will continue to increase.

Now, the Samurai bond has to be repaid. The Samurai bond is a 10-year bond with an interest rate of 1.52%. It was valued at 30 billion CNY (around 300 million USD) and has to be repaid in 2023. As of March 17, the bond price stood at 10.34 USD. The next major bond repayment due is for the 500 million USD Chinggis bond, set to be repaid on January 2018.

The successful release of the Khuraldai bond is expected to increase Mongolia's chance of enrollment in the IMF's extended fund facility program, which will aid in the repayment of the Chinggis bond. Analysts say the postponement of Parliament's discussion of the IMF program and amendments required by the IMF for enrollment might damage investor confidence. Parliament is expected to discuss the budget amendments as soon as the regular spring session begins.

Keywords: Development Bank, bonds | www.bloombergtv.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 22, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Deputy Prime Minister discusses bilateral relations with a Russian delegation

Summary: The Deputy Prime Minister and Mongolian Chair of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commissions, U. Khurelsukh, met with Deputy Head of the Administrative Directorate to the Russian President Pavel Michailovich Fradkov to discuss the political relationship between the two countries, the recent visit to Russia of the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the upcoming visit of Prime Minister J. Erdenebat. Fradkov noted that issues concerning Mongolian real estate in Russia should be resolved under Mongolian law and through negotiations. The two sides discussed ways to further develop the political and economic partnership between the two countries, and noted that carrying out agreements reached during the 20th meeting of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economy, Science and Technical Cooperation is essential.

In addition to the Prime Minister's visit to the Russian Federation, the Speaker of Parliament is set to pay an official visit to Japan on March 27 to discuss the Mongolia-Japan strategic partnership.

Keywords: foreign relations, Russia, Japan | Today /page A2/


Minister of Roads and Transportation Development meets with UN Special Envoy for Road Safety

Summary: Minister of Roads and Transportation Development D. Ganbat received the United Nation's Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt. The Minister presented Todt with the road safety measures and policies currently being implemented in Mongolia, and highlighted that the Government of Mongolia has approved 146 resolutions to improve road safety. Minister D. Ganbat also noted that motor sports are still developing in Mongolia, but they are limited by poor infrastructure. Many rally races and long-distance races are organized in Mongolia, due to its vast, undeveloped territory. The Minister noted that, in the future, it is possible to organize more races at an international level.

Keywords: United Nations, infrastructure, development | National Post /page 1/


MINING

Teck Resources purchases 9.1% of Erdene Resource Development Corp.

Summary: Toronto Stock Exchange listed Erdene Resource Development Corporation announced that Teck Resources has acquired 543,300 company stocks at .92 CAD each. Now the company owns 9.1% (13.2 million stocks) of Erdene Resource Development. Erdene Resource Development holds gold exploration licenses in Altan Nar and Bayan Khundii and has successfully raised 13.8 million CAD in financing.

Keywords: Erdene Resource Development | The Official Gazette /page 11/


ONLINE STORY

S&P says Mongolia's repayment of Development Bank's bond debt will not affect the bank's credit rating

Summary: International financial services and intelligence provider Standard & Poor's (S&P) announced that Mongolia's successful repayment of Development Bank's 580 million USD Euro bond debt will not affect the bank's sovereign credit rating. At the end of 2016, Development Bank started lowering the amount of government securities it held, and S&P notes that in the short term, the successful repayment will have a positive effect on the bank's balances. In the long term, with the approval of amendments to the Law on Development Bank, banking operations and the growth of the bank must be monitored. Under the amended law, Development Bank is set to focus on commercial businesses, but S&P hopes that the bank will continue to support the mining, energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors.

Keywords: Development Bank, credit ratings, S&P | www.bloombergtv.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 23, 2017

GOVERNMENT

State-owned companies experienced 7.9 billion MNT in losses

Summary: In accordance with a recommendation from Parliament's Economic Standing Committee, the Government Agency for Policy Coordination of State Property conducted an audit of state-owned and state regulated companies in 21 provinces. The companies audited earned 105.6 billion MNT in revenue, but had 111.9 billion MNT in expenditures, resulting in 7.9 billion MNT in losses. Of the 160 companies audited, 94 businesses operated with a deficit.

Keywords: state assets, economy, fiscal discipline | The Century News /page 1/


National air pollution program to cost 9.9 trillion MNT

Summary: Cabinet approved the National Program to Combat Air Pollution and Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism D. Oyunkhorol and Acting Head of the Green Development and Air Pollution Department at the Mayor's Office J. Batbayasgalan gave reporters additional information about the program. D. Oyunkhorol noted that due to poor infrastructure, city planning, and human factors, Ulaanbaatar's air, soil, and water pollution levels have reached critically dangerous levels. In order to prevent additional damage, the program was drafted and approved. The program will be implemented in two stages, from 2017-2019 and from 2019-2025, and is aimed at updating and developing urban planning and increasing the efficiency and quality of infrastructure. The program will also raise public awareness about pollution levels, support the participation of citizens and business in combating pollution, and work to effectively implement laws that are already in place. Government officials believe that by implementing the program, pollutants will be reduced by 80%, the use of coal will be banned with the exception of thermal power plants, and air pollution will be reduced by at least 50%. The program will require 9.9 trillion MNT in financing for its implementation.

Keywords: environment, Cabinet, air pollution | The Official Gazette /page 2/


ECONOMY

Confidence in the MNT grows

Summary: The Bank of Mongolia reported on economic data, the financial market, and measures being taken for economic recovery. According to the central bank's data, public and commercial confidence in the MNT saw an increase. Assets in saving accounts in foreign currency decreased by 5.5% and savings in MNT increased by 6.7%. In quantitative terms, savings accounts in MNT rose by 395.9 billion MNT, deposit accounts in foreign currency fell to 68 billion MNT, and savings in foreign currency decreased by 38.9 billion MNT. Bank of Mongolia announced that a new special company will be established to lower the number of non-performing loans. 

Keywords: Bank of Mongolia, currency | Today /page A1/


Fuel imports increase  

Summary: Prices for oil products at the border reached 602 USD per ton last month, increasing steadily for the last five months. In the first two months of the year, Mongolia imported 176,000 tons of oil products, an increase of 58% compared to the same period last year. As the price of raw materials increase and the mining sector's output increases, the import of diesel fuel increases accordingly. Mongolia imported 37 million USD in vehicle fuel and 99% of the imported gasoline came from Russia.

Keywords: import, fuel   | Today /page B1/


ONLINE STORIES

Financial Industry Leaders Form AmCham's Financial Services Committee

Summary: The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia convened the inaugural meeting of its new Financial Services Committee. As part of AmCham's larger efforts to promote greater access and opportunities for financing as outlined in its 2017 Roadmap for Growth, the Financial Services Committee will focus on further strengthening Mongolia's financial sector and working toward supporting the implementation of international standards and practices in the industry

The Committee is comprised of key industry representative AmCham members including executives from Xac Bank, Khan Bank, Golomt Bank, State Bank, Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, PwC Mongolia, Ernst and Young, Deloitte Onch, ARD Financial Group and Tenger Insurance. In particular, AmCham's Financial Services Committee will work toward creating a cross-functional platform for leading representatives of Mongolia's financial sector, formulating and applying international best practice to all segments of the financial industry and providing advice for constructive reform to regulators and policymakers.

Keywords: AmCham, Financial Committee | www.ikon.mn


Mongolian Banking Association reports on performance of commercial banks

Summary: The Mongolian Banking Association (MBA) presented the financial reports of the nation's commercial banks, and as required by the Bank of Mongolia, the capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of the banks meet the central bank's requirements. The central bank set the required CAR at a minimum of 12%, and at the end of 2016, it was 14.2%-25.3% for major banks that have an impact on the banking system. CAR is the ratio of a bank's capital and its risks, and one of the main indicators of a bank's ability to tolerate risk. The average liquidity ratio of Mongolia's commercial banks stands at 42.7%, 18% higher than prudential ratios highlighted by the MBA. Before Mongolia is able to fully implement the IMF's extended fund facility program, independent organizations must conduct a full evaluation of the nation's commercial banks. The central bank believes that the result of the evaluations will not greatly differ from internal audits.

Keywords: commercial banking, Bank of Mongolia, MBA | www.bloombergtv.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 24, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Speaker of Parliament affirms Mongolia will implement IMF program

Summary: The Speaker of Parliament, M. Enkhbold, met with residents of Zuun Mod and spoke to them about the legislation Parliament has been working on. The Speaker said,"In order to overcome the nation's economic difficulties, the government had been negotiating with the IMF since last August, resulting in a staff-level agreement on an extended fund facility program that is set to be implemented. The Cabinet has drafted amendments to the state budget and they are ready to be reviewed by Parliament. As soon as the spring session of Parliament kicks off, the budget amendments will be discussed. Since the economy is in a very difficult situation, there is no other path for recovery. We must make the amendment to the law on excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, passenger cars, alcohol, and cigarettes. Even though taxes will increase, the burden will not affect the majority of citizens."

Keywords: IMF, Speaker of Parliament, economy | Daily News /page 1,2/


PM discusses the nation's economic situation with Khovd Province residents

Summary: Prime Minister J. Erdenebat visited Khovd Province and introduced residents of the region to the measures being taken by the government to revive the economy. The PM noted that the even though times are difficult, there is light at the end of the tunnel. He said that the election promises of the MPP are included in the government's action plan and will be carried out. The PM added that it is useless to talk about overcoming economic difficulties without supporting and developing domestic manufacturers. In order to regain investor confidence, Prime Minister J. Erdenebat said that the government must maintain fiscal and monetary discipline, which will be put into place by cooperating with the IMF.

Keywords: Prime Minister, economy,  | The Official Gazette /page 2/


MINING

MMC's price for coal increased by 90% in 2016

Summary: Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC) released their 2016 annual report. In the last half of 2016, their sales of coking coal doubled in comparison to the first half of 2016, reaching 1.5 million tons at the end of the year. In 2015, they sold 1.2 million tons of coal. In the first half of 2016, their price for coal stood at 52.2 USD, but in the second half of the year, the price rose by almost 90%, reaching 98.2 USD. At the end of 2016, the price rose to around 110 USD per ton. MMC's total losses in 2015 were 105 million USD, but their deficit decreased to 29.8 million USD in 2016. MMC stock stood at .238 HKD yesterday, and a year ago the stock was valued at 0.046 HKD. In one year, the value of MMC stock rose by 417%.

Keywords: MMC, coal | Today /page A1/


ONLINE STORY

World Bank and GoM to cooperate on a project to develop exports

Summary: The Government of Mongolia and World Bank are set to cooperate on the Developing Export Project. The Minister of Finance highlighted that the project will be focused on diversifying Mongolia's export products, and that it will have a critical effect on employment and production. In accordance with financing negotiations, Mongolia will use 30% of a 20 million USD soft loan to develop the exports of SME's operating in sectors other than mining. Half of the soft loan will be used to develop new financial products for exports, implement export insurance, and support competition. Seven percent of the total financing for the program will go toward the financial sector, 50% to non-bank financial intermediaries, and the remaining 43% will go toward developing domestic and foreign trade.

Keywords: World Bank, exports | www.bloombergtv.mn

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Business

PM: "Government of Mongolia to be debt-free to Chalco within this month"

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat met with the leaders of the administrative organizations under the government to give some directions. He also reflected on actions taken by his cabinet for the last seven months since formation.

J.Erdenebat was appointed as the Prime Minister eight months ago. In a month in the Premier's office, J.Erdenebat formed his cabinet, hailed as "professional".

"To look back on the works done by our cabinet, I would call it a "cleaning" cabinet", said the Premier and provided examples to back his argument.

At first, he said, our cabinet has sophisticated the budgetary system and commenced the action for applying discipline in public expenditures. "We were greeted by an economy that had one of the world's most critical government budget balance in terms of deficit. The budget deficit was a consequence of careless spending of taxpayers' money", he added.

Secondly, the new cabinet has successfully captured opportunities and put an end to the impeachment, which was about whether the Mongolian government would announce a default or not due to the outstanding debt from the government bonds. This government has settled the issue of USD 580 million debt, and shed a light on investors' confidence.

He went on to say "This is not any kind of political advertisement. The fact that foreign investors offered USD 3.3 billion bid for the recently-issued government bond of USD 124 million can back up the accomplishments of this government".

Last but not least, Mongolia will be free of debt owing to Chalco Company of China within this month. Thanks to this, the East Tsankhi pit of the coal giant Tavantolgoi mine is finally getting into Mongolian people's full ownership after seven years. In other words, profit from coal mining in East Tsankhi will go directly to the Mongolian government budget.

"We decided not to just watch what happens with the coal price in the world. This government launched an open auction for Tavantolgoi's coal and sold at the highest ever price – 72.5 USD per ton" he said.

Although, some of the above mentioned works have been already initiated under the previous governance, our cabinet pushed forward the stagnated processes, added the Prime Minister. "Mongolia's economy has so much more work. The difficult part is not over yet. Mongolia has just stepped up to the threshold of many decisive steps". 

Source: www.zasag.mn 

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New exploration licenses to be granted in April

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) The Government of Mongolia has planned 20.9 percent of the land for exploration through licensing and selection processes.

Currently, a work to grant licenses for some 1.6 million ha land through selection process has commenced and grants of exploration licenses for 13 million ha land is scheduled to commence in April. Some 44 percent of a total of 3546 licenses available are for operational use, while 55.6 percent are for exploration only. Also, the 34 percent of the operational and 55.7 of the exploration licenses are specifically for gold deposit. Copper sites for exploration are mostly located in the northern region of the country.

On that note, Mongolian Society of Economic Geologists are organizing the 9th annual "Mongolian Geology and Exploration 2017" meeting at the Corporate Convention Center on March 23-26. The event will include training on exploration method, various exhibitions and discussion on mining projects in Mongolia.

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New procedure for exploration licenses to be adopted

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) On March 23-24, the annual 'Mongolian Geology and Exploration' conference, initiated by the Society of Economic Geologists is gathering geologists for the 9th time this year.

Attended by representatives of mining companies, international associations, investors and the Mongolian Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, the conference serves as a platform for discussion on geology, mining, legal environment surrounding and government policy on minerals at Corporate Hotel & Convention Center.

In his opening speech, Deputy Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry D.Zagdjav defined the purpose of the conference as introducing the output of the works of Mongolian geologists, strengthening cooperation between government and private sectors, and attracting foreign and domestic investment.

The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry is also planning to begin following a new procedure for the issuance of exploration licenses which will introduce new policies such as giving special permissions based on the exploration plans and amount of investment and allowing both domestic and foreign entities to submit applications.

Presently, some 15 geological research works are ongoing as MNT 9.3 billion was allocated from the 2017 state budget for basic geological researches.

"Compared to last year, investment in mining is increasing, and it has been estimated that mining sector will accumulate MNT 13.3 billion in state budget this year", said M.Enkhjargal, Deputy Director of Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia.

In conjunction with the 'Mongolian Geology and Exploration' conference, side events like announcement of mineral exploration and exploitation projects, business meeting of investors, 'Mongolian landscape through the lenses of explorers' photography exhibition and 'The finest of minerals and rocks' exhibition are also being held.

Organizers of the annual conference include the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority, General Authority of Specialized Inspection, Mongolian University of Science and Technology and National University of Mongolia.

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Government allocates 9 billion to geological survey for 2017

March 20 (gogo.mn) This year the Government of Mongolia allocated MNT 9.3 billion to geological survey. In regards, 38 project to be implemented including city geo-ecological survey. 

In recent years, air and soil pollution of the city has increased dramatically. Thus the survey aims to measure pollution and concentration of heavy metals in the capital. City geo-ecological survey was conducted in 1997 and 2009. Also the survey is able to determine the cause of increased earthquake activity. The survey will be conducted for three years. 

Meanwhile exploration licenses are granted based on the geological survey results.

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State-owned company to be established for construction of oil refinery

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) During its regular meeting on March 20, Monday, the Cabinet resolved to form a 100 percent government-owned company to handle the construction of an oil refinery plant in the country.  

Fully supplying its oil demand with import, Mongolia spends about USD 1 billion on the annual import of 1-1.2 million tons of fuel.

Therefore, it was decided that a 'Oil refinery establishment' project will be realized in the frameworks of a loan agreement between Mongolian Government and Export-Import Bank of India.

In this scope, a Prime Ministerial ordinance has thus been issued to form a working group which has responsibilities to establish the government-run company on the basis of technical and economic assessment for the 'Oil refinery establishment' project, and frame the structure, organization and regulations of the company.

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Mysterious company working with Bombardier has links to Mongolian rail deal, contract reveals

Swedish authorities believe shell company was set up to help transfer bribes to officials in Azerbaijan

March 22 (CBC News) A mysterious and controversial intermediary company with business links to Bombardier appears to be involved in a new project in Mongolia, according to an investigation by CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, in collaboration with Swedish, Russian and Bosnian journalists.

The company — Multiserv Overseas — is at the heart of a Swedish investigation into alleged bribes related to the awarding of a railway contract in Azerbaijan. 

On March 10, the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit announced it had detained a senior Bombardier official with the Quebec company's Swedish branch in connection with a contract for the modernization of Azerbaijan's railway system.

Authorities also suspect two other Swedish Bombardier executives accepted to provide bribes to officials in order to influence the tendering process.

Some of the bribes are believed to have been transferred by Multiserv, a British shell company.

Now Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête has revealed that Bombardier appeared to be planning to use the same intermediary for a railway project in Mongolia.

Journalists with Swedish public television, SVT, and the Swedish news agency TT obtained a contract which reveals several similarities to the Azerbaijan case.

The contract is for supplying railway equipment to Mongolia at a cost of about $10 million.

The year-old document, dated February 2016, indicates that the Swedish branch of Bombardier Transportation would sell the equipment to Multiserv.

Questions about Multiserv Overseas

Multiserv Overseas has been making the news for nearly a year.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a collective of journalists specialized in investigating corruption, drew attention to the company's existence with the publication of the Panama Papers in April 2016.

Documents from the legal firm Mossack Fonseca show that equipment manufactured by Bombardier was involved in a transaction between Multiserv Overseas and Rambo Management, a firm in the British Virgin Islands.

Last December, the Globe and Mail revealed Multiserv's involvement in 100 transactions involving Bombardier Transportation in Russia.

The Quebec transportation giant has defended Multiserv, saying it's a business in good standing and that it supplied the company with equipment delivery logistics.

A visit to Multiserv's listed address in London earlier this month revealed there was no office nor people working for Multiserv at that address.

In the U.K., companies are expected to report any changes, including the company's location, shareholders and directors, and provide statements confirming that all their filings are up to date.

According to the U.K.'s company registry, Multiserv's annual confirmation statement is overdue, as of Feb. 9.

The Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit contends that Multiserv is nothing more than a shell company involved in millions of dollars in transactions surrounding the Azerbaijan project.

"We think they used false invoices to make it possible to hide at least $85 million, to use for whatever purpose they want. For example, giving bribes to people who have influence on this procurement and this contract," said Thomas Forsberg, the prosecutor for the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit.

Bombardier conducting internal review

The call for offers to modernize the Azerbaijan railway was won by a consortium of companies, led by Bombardier.

In a statement released after multiple media outlets, including CBC, reported on allegations about that contract, Bombardier said it won the contract "after a fair and open competition."

"Our bid, which was accepted by Azerbaijan Railways ADY in co-ordination with the World Bank, was deemed the most technically sound and priced lower than our global competitors," it said.

Radio-Canada made multiple requests for an interview with Bombardier but was unable to obtain the company's version of the facts.

In a news release, Bombardier said it takes any allegation of unethical behaviour very seriously.

It also said it is assisting Swedish authorities with their investigation into the Azerbaijan project and is conducting its own internal review, as well.

Bombardier said if it discovers any improper activity, it will take whatever steps are necessary to set things right. 

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Gashuunsukhait Railway company dissolved

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) During its regular meeting on March 20, Monday, the Cabinet instructed the Board of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC to dissolve Gashuunsukhait Railway LLC which was established to invest in, construct and operate the narrow gauge railway between Mongolian Gashuunsukhait and Chinese Gantsmod ports.

In relation with the decision, corresponding Ministers and authorities were ordered to oversee the company's expenditures through external audit and take measures concerning payment for the expense of the company using the foreign investment made into TavanTolgoi–Gashuunsukhait railway project.

Cabinet Resolution No. 268 issued in 2016 reflected that Nariinsukhait-Shiveekhuren railway construction will begin within the first half of 2017. Therefore, the Cabinet agreed that construction of 267 km railway connecting Tavan Tolgoi with Gashuunsukhait will be executed under the same authority with the construction of 45.3 km railway connecting Nariinsukhait with Shiveekhuren. 

Although Gashuunsukhait Railway company had finalized the technical and economic assessment, layout and geological and geodetic surveying for the narrow gauge project, Tavan Tolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railway was decided to be built with standard 1435 mm gauge in accordance with the 2014 Parliament Resolution on 'Ensuring implementation of Government policy on rail transport'.

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Mongolia launches coal rail transportation to Tianjin

March 24 (news.mn) A new rail route to transport coal from Olon-Ovoo station in the Dornogobi province to China's port city of Tianjin started operation on 23rd of March. Tianjin is the closest sea port to Mongolia's southern border and the most important logistics hub in the north of China.

The staff of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Venture completed the first phase of the terminal within 20 days which has a capacity to offload coal from 100-150 rail trucks daily. As a result, coal export to China expects to rise by 200 tonnes per month and 2.5 million tonnes a year. Coal loaded from Olon Ovoot will be transported in open rail trucks directly to Tianjin through the Erlian (Erenhot) border crossing.

The Terminal logistics project has been implemented in partnership with the private sector with a total investment with MNT 1.4 billion (approximately 57000 USD). Olon Ovoo station was established in 1974. As of today, the station, located in the heart of the Gobi Desert is operating with a loading capacity of 170 rail trucks of coal per day.

Mongolia's economic slump has been largely caused by the deflated world market for coal and copper; this tough period seems to be coming to an end as demand picks up. For example, during the whole of 2016, Mongolia transported a total of 189 thousand tonnes coal to China; but in the first three months of 2017 alone, this has increased to 249 thousand tonnes.

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Olon Ovoot port expanded to increase coal exportMontsame, March 24

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Gashuunsukhait route freight transport to be arranged under one control

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) The National Road Transport Department of Mongolia organized a discussion under the theme "Improving operations of international freight transport" on March 23.  The event focused on the improvement of public and private partnership and government policy on international transport as well as tackling issues arose in the freight transports in routes from deposits of Ukhaa Khudag and Tavantolgoi in Umnugobi aimag to the port of Gashuunsukhait-Gants mod.

Currently, about 4500 vehicles from 71 entities are carrying freights and Mongolia has imported 4.2 million tons of coal in 2017, which shows growth of 81.6 percent compared to the same period of previous year. Moreover, over 2000 vehicles are reported to be engaged in illegal freight transport activities. Therefore, government authorities introduced during the discussion that the Ministry of Road and Transport Development is working to formalize companies carrying-out freight transport in this route, issuing daily plans and arranging freight transport properly.

The participants of the discussion underlined that correspondence of activities and cooperation between companies are significance to the arrangement of the activities of freight companies on the Gashuunsukhait route under one control.

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Olon Ovoot port expanded to increase coal export

March 24 (MONTSAME) "The expansion of Olon Ovoot border crossing station will help increase income from coal and employment in Mongolia", remarked Mr D.Ganbat, Minister of Road and Transport Development when he attended on Thursday an official inauguration ceremony of an expanded terminal built at Olon Ovoot border crossing station in Dornogobi province.

Mongolia had begun testing rail transport of coal from the Olon Ovoot station to Tianjin port, the seaport in China closest to Mongolia.

In response to increased coal demand from China, Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Venture in cooperation with the Ministry of Road and Transport Development expanded the Olon Ovoot station by building the first unit of its terminal within 20 days, making possible to load coal into 100-150 wagons a day. It would increase Mongolia's coal export to its southern neighbor by 200 thousand tons a month and 2.5 million tons a year.

The second rail line will be constructed from April to June this year, and when in full operation, the Olon Ovoot terminal will be capable of transporting 300 wagons or 19,500 tons of coal.

The Olon Ovoot station in Dornogobi province was set up in 1974.

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New contractor to be chosen for Bayankhongor-Altai road project

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) During the Cabinet's regular meeting on March 20, Monday, Head of Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat reported on the progress of 126.7 km Bayankhongor-Altai road project which is listed among state-owned concession items approved by the 2013 Cabinet resolution No 317.

The concession agreement to build the road, worth USD 76.9 million, was signed with Energy Construction Company LLC on June 5, 2015. Sides agreed that repayment must be made from 2017 to 2019, and the road must be operational before September 1, 2017. But another company, Erdene Zam LLC established a duplicate concession contract because of which a legal case has been created.

Therefore, the Cabinet resolved to nullify the contract of Erdene Zam LLC, and ordered Minister for Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat to settle the case in compliance with the concerning laws and regulations.

Moreover, the Cabinet also decided to nullify the original concession contract with Energy Construction Company LLC, and assigned National Development Agency to select a new entity to establish a direct contract on construction of the 126.7 km road project and introduce its report.

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Investment forum seeks possibilities to raise gold production

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) "Mongolia Gold 2017" investment forum was held on March 17 at the Chinggis Hotel, gathering some 300 domestic and international delegates from government, private sector and investors.

"Mongolian Mining Exchange" company organized the event with aims to improve legal environment, stabilize it, solve financing, introduce gold projects and advanced technologies, expand business ties and cooperation, share international experiences and bring exploration works into a new level.

Gold production of Mongolia makes up 2.6 per cent of GDP or 9.1 per cent of export revenues. Gold export is planned to be increased consistently by 2-3 tons each year  and is expected to reach USD 1.2 billion in 2020 and USD 1.6 billion in 2025, increasing export revenues from gold by 26,7 per cent and 68.4 per cent respectively, compared with gold exports in 2015.

As of last November, a total of 17.6 tons of gold in value of USD680 million was sold to the Bank of Mongolia. The number of companies, which are running business in the gold industry, and gold production has been increasing year by year. Now, gold miners occupy 45 per cent of mining companies.

The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry is working to make a list of gold mining license holders, which needs additional financing. To boost gold industry, the Government approved "Gold-2" program, the main goal of which is to give financial support to gold miners in order to increase their operational capacity and to mine 25 tons of gold by 2020, increasing gold reserves by 100-150 tones. Funding, needed for the program, will be covered jointly by the Government and the Bank of Mongolia, according to Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Ts.Dashdorj. "Gold" and "Gold 2000" programs were implemented in 1992-2000.

There are 1642 registered gold licenses, out of which 542 for mining and 1100 for exploration, covering 46.3 per cent of all mining licenses, informed Deputy Chair of Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority M.Enkhjargal.

"-"Gold-2" program targets to ensure sustainable development of gold production in short and middle terms, increase geological research and exploration works, raise gold production consistently through utilizing placer and other metal deposits containing gold and to introduce best technology, equipment and management in gold mining, processing and rehabilitation, which are eco-friendly, has low negative effect to human health and supportive to sustainable development" noted the Deputy Chair.

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"Mongolia Mining 2017" expo to highlight coal industry

March 21 (MONTSAME) Mongolia Mining 2017, one of the biggest and most significant events in Mongolian mining industry is to be held on 5-7 April at Buyant Ukhaa Sports Palace, Ulaanbaatar city. We interviewed with T.Battulga, CEO of Minex Mongolia, the general organizer of the expo. 

-What is the meaning of motto "World technologies come close"? It is quite interesting. 

-This motto has given after 4-3 years of its establishment. We intended to use the motto for one expo. But today the motto has became the main motto of the "Mongolia Mining" expo. 

The country itself cannot handle and manage all activities of mining sector including attracting investment, expanding cooperation and supplying necessary equipment. All activities should be done at international levels. In other words, all companies operating in Mongolian mining sector cannot collect all required equipment, services, products, materials and supplies from Mongolian market. In order to provide them all, the company needs to go to other countries. Meanwhile "Mongolia Mining" expo aims to bring demand and supply together at one spot, saving people`s time and money. 

We bring the latest technologies in our country which used in world mining sector. That is why we chose that motto. 

-"Mongolia Mining" expo highlights a particular industry each year. What about this year?

-The expo covers the entire mining sector. But every year the expo highlights a particular mineral industry and promotes it. This year the expo highlights coal industry. The organizers of the expo are cooperating with coal industry businesses. Also many companies which supply equipment to coal deposit are introducing their products. Major companies successfully operating in coal industry to give seminars. The expo aims to provide information on state policy of coal industry, market trends, investment and implementation of projects. 

We submitted request to experts of the Ministry of Mining and Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia to give information on current situation of mining industry and its prospects. All companies of Mongolian coal industry will attend the expo. Also daughter companies of Erdenes Mongol SOE including Baganuur JSC, Shivee-Ovoo JSC and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC will participate the expo. 

-What is the feature of 7th annual expo?

-"Mongolia Mining" expo aims to keep its tradition. Mining industry has faced instability and collapse in the last 2-3 years. This year commodity prices are rising in the world market while the main export commodity prices in Mongolian mining industry has increased by 20-60 percent. As manufacturing and production increases, demand for production equipment rises. 

Therefore number of participants to "Mongolia Mining 2017" has risen sharply which considered as the feature of the expo. In regards, we are planning to organize special reception aiming to introduce participants, establish live communication and exchange information. 

In addition, administrators of Geology and Mining School, University of the Science and Technology are cooperating with us. In regards, main museum exhibits of the Geology school to be showed at the expo providing information on geological surveys of Mongolian mineral resources sector to both foreign and domestic participants. 

-How many companies have registered to attend the expo?

-This year more than 130 best mining supplier companies from China, Russia, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Czech, Australia, Belarus, Germany, Korea and France to attend the expo. Every participant from foreign countries will exhibit their country pavilions.   

Exhibitors are mostly producers and communications, logistics, catering, camping and rehabilitation service providers including mining suppliers, crushing plant equipment, oil and lubricants, power generator, mining cables and lighting system. 

-Organization of any events could not be imagined without sponsors and supporters? 

-We are happy for "Transwest Mongolia", an official distributor of Komatsu which taking part in the 7th edition of Mongolia Mining expo for the first time as a general sponsor. 

Wagner Asia Equipment LLC, the Dealer of Caterpiller Inc. in Mongolia serves as our gold sponsor. Moreover many companies are actively working as sponsors to our event. 

-Minex Mongolia, the general organizer of the Mongolia mining expo organizes other cooperation events in mining sector. More on that, please?

-Our company runs cooperation activities in mining industry. In recent years, investment has lowered in accordance with foreign and domestic economic growth and the decline. However, our company attracted Chinese investors to Mongolian mining projects in scope of partnership agreement with Tianjin Mining Exchange. Some projects have halted due to collapse of commodity market. Also there are projects which being successfully implemented. 

Minex Mongolia LLC has successfully organized "Oil & Oil Shale Mongolia" conference in 2014. The conference has set to be held in every two years. However Parliamentary election 2016 delayed the second edition of the conference. Thus, in Sep, 2017, we are planning to organize the second edition of the "Oil & Oil Shale Mongolia" conference. 

-Thank you for the interview.

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World Bank Project Aims to Help Mongolia Diversify Exports

ULAANBAATAR, March 24, 2017 (World Bank) – The Mongolia Ministry of Finance and the World Bank today launched the Export Development Project aimed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises in non-minerals sectors strengthen their export capabilities and boost their access to export markets.

The project, to be implemented by the government of Mongolia in the next 4 ½ years, will support Mongolia's economic diversification by providing those firms with training, matching grants and access to export credit-insurance products.

"In an economy where exports are heavily dominated by mining commodities, export diversification will boost productivity, overall entrepreneurship, and employment," said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia, at the project's launch event. "This project also complements other efforts by the World Bank to support inclusive economic growth and livelihoods in Mongolia."

"Through the project, existing and future SME exporters in Mongolia's non-minerals sector will have broader and easier access to export credit insurance, learn practical knowhow, and receive financial support to improve their export quality and competitiveness," said Minister of Finance Choijilsuren Battogtokh. "The agricultural Reinsurance Joint Stock Company, private insurance companies and other financial institutions will learn to provide export-oriented financial products and services to the Mongolian SMEs."

In 2015, 87 percent of Mongolia's exports consisted of mining commodities, while making up only 4 percent of the nation's jobs. By contrast, agriculture employs nearly 30 percent of the total workforce, with livestock providing subsistence, income, and wealth for nearly half of Mongolia's population.

The project is funded with a $20 million credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank's fund for the poorest.

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Mayer Brown JSM advises Mongolian government on US$600 M notes issuance and exchange offer

March 20 (Mayer Brown) Mayer Brown JSM advised the Government of Mongolia on its recent issuance of US$600 million 8.75% notes due 2024. The transaction included an exchange offer for the US$580 million 5.75% notes due 2017 issued by Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, as well as a new money component.

Jason T. Elder, lead partner of the transaction said, "This transaction represents a significant achievement for our long-term client, the Government of Mongolia. We are honoured to have advised the Ministry of Finance on this landmark transaction, which marks a new stage in the evolution of the Mongolian capital markets and extends the sovereign debt profile as new mining projects increase production domestically."

The transaction formed part of larger discussions with the International Monetary Fund related to its staff-level agreement to provide a three-year extended fund facility to Mongolia in response to the country's challenging economic conditions.

Credit Suisse and JPMorgan acted as joint lead managers and joint bookrunners for the deal, and SC Lowy acted as financial advisor for the Government of Mongolia.

With market-leading experience in cross-border international capital markets transactions involving Mongolia, Mayer Brown JSM has advised on other milestone transactions in the country, including the Government of Mongolia's issuance of US$500 million 10.875% notes due 2021, and multiple issuances for Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia and Development Bank of Mongolia.

The Mayer Brown team was led by Hong Kong-based Corporate & Securities partner Jason T. Elder and included Corporate & Securities partner Thomas Kollar in Hong Kong, Tax Transactions & Consulting partner Jason Bazar in New York, and Financial Services Regulatory & Enforcement partners David R. Sahr and Donald S. Waack in Washington D.C.

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Deputy Minister remarks on scientific aspects of agriculture sector

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) "There are over 200 technologies and products that can immediately find their application in production", remarked J.Saule, Deputy Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry during a meeting of the Ministry's sub-council on science and technology.

The meeting was held last Friday to discuss economic and technological aspects of animal husbandry, veterinary, farming, plant protection, food, light industry and agriculture sectors.

"About 30 percent of seed sorts, 100 percent of potato sorts, 60 percent of vegetable sorts and 70 percent of fruit sorts studied and certified by scientists are being planted in Mongolia", she said. Moreover in animal husbandry sector, 1 horse breed and 3 varieties, 3 camel breeds, 3 cattle breeds, 22 sheep breeds and 4 goat breeds and 5 varieties have been newly certified.

The Deputy Minister continued on her report, "4 discoveries of Mongolian veterinary researchers have been internationally acknowledged, and 64 animal vaccinations and 72 drugs and supplements have been invented".

In 2008-2016, 72 science, technology projects and 5 innovation projects were implemented in the science & technology areas of food, agriculture and light industry sectors, using MNT 5.5 billion fund from the Science and Technology Fund.  

"As such, we can tackle our challenges relying on the intellectual capacities of our scientists", the Deputy Minister noted.

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Gobi Cashmere opens pop-up store in Singapore

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) The Mongolian "Gobi" Cashmere has opened its first pop-up store in Singapore, at the invitation of Mongolian Ambassador to Singapore T.Lkhagvadorj.

Special fairs were organized for products of Gobi Organic Cashmere and Gobi's new luxury brand Yama on March 14 and 17 at the Mandarin Gallery and Tanglin Mall, standing in a row with the retail stores of the world famous fashion lines such as Michael Kors and MaxMara.

Discounted by 30 percent, the Gobi cashmere products captivated the shoppers. Launch of the first pop-up store expressed the relatively high demand for Mongolian cashmere products in Singapore and the Southeast Asian region. 

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100 kinds of factories to open in all regions

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) The Government of Mongolia, regardless of the current economic difficulties, is to maintain consistency of the "21:100" program on building new factories. This means that factories of 100 kinds of heavy and light production for substituting imports will be built in all 21 provinces of Mongolia.

Studies have been conducted for the factories, and their results will be discussed by the cabinet for approval, reports the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

Within this program, a major national manufacturer APU Company has set a goal to increase investment for dairy production in 2017. APU has constituted 21.4 percent of the milk market in 2016, and has been exporting its products to Russia, South Korea, and Hong Kong, China.

As for heavy industry, the Government has named four major projects, including a oil processing plant in Sainshand and Ferrous Complex in Darkhan-Selenge region.

A bid has been announced for companies that are interested in preparing the feasibility study and consulting for the oil processing plant project. Four India-based companies have taken parts in the bid, two of them were selected. The final results will come out by April 15.

The feasibility study of the Ferrous Complex of Darkhan –Selenge region is projected to complete within July.

Another heavy industry project on coal gasification plant is expecting a complete feasibility study in the near future. The coal gasification plant project is funded by World Bank.

The Government has set to forward a project on copper concentrate plant.

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APNIC: Internet Resource Management and Network Security Workshop, Ulaanbaatar, 14-16 June

March 24 (APNIC) APNIC will deliver a three-day Internet Resource Management and Network Security workshop from 14 to 16 June 2017, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Register now and pay before 24 May 2017 to get the early-bird rate.

This intermediate-level workshop is designed for network engineers, managers and operators, as well as security policy makers interested in network security, understanding threats and how to mitigate them.

Topics covered will include:

  • Network Security fundamentals, including cryptography and RPKI
  • Attack identification and mitigation
  • Security protocols
  • Network analysis and forensics
  • Host protection and server hardening

Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops to practice the hands-on lessons learned using the APNIC virtual lab.

For further details, and to register, please visit the APNIC Training website and be sure to join the Facebook event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Financial Industry Leaders Form AmCham's Financial Services Committee

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, March 23 (AmCham Mongolia) – The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia convened the inaugural meeting of its new Financial Services Committee on March 22, 2017. As part of AmCham's larger efforts to promote greater access and opportunities for financing as outlined in its 2017 Roadmap for Growth, the Financial Services Committee will focus on further strengthening Mongolia's financial sector and working toward supporting the implementation of international standards and practices in the industry

The Committee is comprised of key industry representative AmCham members including executives from Xac Bank, Khan Bank, Golomt Bank, State Bank, Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, PwC Mongolia, Ernst and Young, Deloitte Onch, ARD Financial Group and Tenger Insurance. In particular, AmCham's Financial Services Committee will work toward creating a cross-functional platform for leading representatives of Mongolia's financial sector, formulating and applying international best practice to all segments of the financial industry and providing advice for constructive reform to regulators and policymakers.

In 2017, AmCham will mainly focus on four strategic areas: facilitating greater access for businesses to competitive financing; encouraging economic diversification through the promotion of renewable energy and agriculture, as well as U.S. franchising; working to develop a well-planned, strong, consistent, transparent, and enforceable legal and regulatory environment; and advocacy for and promotion of AmCham members' success stories to attract foreign investment.

Erik Versavel, Country Representative of ING Bank in Mongolia, Board member of AmCham and elected Chairman of the Committee, said during his keynote remarks at the inaugural meeting, "AmCham Financial Services Committee will work toward benefiting AmCham members and financial sector companies in creating a better and more comprehensive financial industry with international best practices and strong policy recommendations in further improving the industry as a whole."

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Kenya and Mongolia Sign MoU to Promote Sustainable Finance

Nairobi, Kenya, March 17, 2017 (IFC) — Kenya Banking Association (KBA) and the Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA), members of the IFC-supported Sustainable Banking Network (SBN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance environmental and social risk management and sustainable financing practices for the Kenyan and Mongolian banking sector. The signing ceremony took place during the sustainable finance related learning visit of the MBA representatives to Nairobi, facilitated and supported by the Dutch development bank FMO and IFC.

Mongolia and Kenya have both launched national policies or voluntary principles on sustainable finance. National sustainable finance guidelines and principles define how financial institutions can manage environmental and social risks and meet growing financing needs for green and inclusive economic growth. The Kenya-Mongolia cross border exchange is an example of peer knowledge exchange and learning visits conducted by SBN members.

As one of the founding members of SBN, the MBA has successfully positioned itself as a consensus builder, mobilizing the entire banking community to jointly develop, adopt and implement the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles. Both IFC and FMO have been supporting this initiative since 2013. Mongolian Bankers Association forged a strong public-private partnership with the Bank of Mongolia and Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles have become the key component of the Mongolian Government's Green Development Policy.

The Kenya banking industry, through the KBA, adopted the Sustainable Finance Guiding Principles in March 2015. KBA, with the support of DEG and FMO, has developed a capacity building program for banks, including an innovative e-Learning platform. KBA is working with the industry to develop a green bonds market with the objective of having individual bank issuance.

"We plan to share and learn best practices on the implementation of sustainable finance principles, developing our secretariats as centers for knowledge sharing in our respective regions," said Tumurkhuu Davaakhuu, Vice President of the Mongolia Banking Association.

Knowledge sharing topics will include work on capacity development, knowledge sharing, directives, policy documents and toolkits, as well as reporting, monitoring and evaluation sustainable finance performance. Mongolia and Kenya will also discuss the Green Bond related subjects that are being actively pursued by the both associations.

"At KBA, we are pleased to see the tremendous interest and support from FMO and IFC in advancing Sustainable Finance practices between our two associations. We look forward to the learning partnership" said Habil Olaka, CEO of KBA.

"FMO is proud to be a founding partner of the sustainable finance initiatives of both the MBA in Mongolia and KBA in Kenya. Over the past years, we have seen the banking sector of both countries develop and embrace sustainable finance principles. The strong local ownership demonstrated by the KBA and MBA is the way forward in continuous advancement of such initiatives. We believe connecting both partners is of great value to advance global cooperation and further develop a sustainable banking sector." said Huib-Jan de Ruijter, Director Financial Institutions at FMO, The Netherlands.

"IFC is proud to connect Mongolian and Kenyan banks, as part of the wider SBN network, to share experience in this shared journey toward sustainable finance," said Tuyen D. Nguyen, IFC Resident Representative in Mongolia. "Higher standards of environmental and social risk management by financial institutions are a powerful way to manage concrete business risks, increase market trust, and attract investment, especially toward green financing."

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Tunshlel 2017 Mongolian-Malaysian and Southeast Asia Investment Business Forum, July 4-5

"Tunshlel 2017" Mongolian-Malaysian and Southeast Asia investment business forum is planned to organized on 4,5th July 2017.

During this business forum you have a vast possibility to promote your activity, expand your business and introduce your investment needed projects and take necessary investments from the Southeast Asian 5 country investors as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei. This business forum will become gate of one year Investment Consulting Activity. Investment Consulting Activity includes: attendance in business forum, register in the server for investment needed projects, bridge projects with interested investors and consult until investment materializes. 

Business Council of Mongolia is supporting the event and 15% special discount is provided to our members registered before 31st of March. To register with the discount, discount code should be obtained from saruul@bcmongolia.org. If you're interested in participating, please fill out the factsheet here and send it to saruul@bcmongolia.org

For detailed information regarding the program and forum, click here

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MBD Business Mission to Washington DC

27th Annual NAMBC AGM & Investors Forum, April 27-28

Mongolian Business Database MBD (www.mongolianbusinessdatabase.com) is starting to register the business participants to the 27th NAMBC Annual General Meeting & Investors Forum which will be held in April 27-28, 2017, at the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, adjacent to Reagan National Airport in Washington DC. The second day, April 28, will feature door-knock meetings with US government officials and on Capitol Hill. The program will commemorate the 30th anniversary of US-Mongolia diplomatic relations by presenting program segments on future investment opportunities in Mongolia, prospects for US-Mongolia and US-Asia engagement under the Trump Administration, and other matters. Speakers will include Mongolian and US officials and business leaders.

Please visit to following link for information in details and contact at contact@mongolianbusinessdatabase.com e mail, 77109911, 98994787 for the registration and inquiry.

Registration will close in March 29th, 2017 (Wednesday).

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Khan Bank Welcomes Naoto Odagiri as Independent Member of Board of Directors

March 17 -- Khan Bank has appointed Naoto Odagiri as an Independent Member of its Board of Directors starting from 7th March, 2017.

Naoto Odagiri is a seasoned banker with over 25 years of experience working for top-tier international financial institutions. He is well versed in various finance businesses, including risk management, investment banking, equity and debt analysis, middle and back office operations, and more. He served as a Director of Credit Risk Management at Barclays Bank, Tokyo and held the several top managerial positions at the BNP Paribas Tokyo. He has analyzed Japanese and non-Japanese financial institutions as a credit risk analyst and stock analyst for over 20 years. 

Mr. Odagiri currently sits on the advisory board of Pacific Tech Bridge, a U.S.-based consulting firm in international relations, strategy, and finance. Pacific Tech Bridge is the organization and make an important contribution to matters of diplomatic relations between the United States, Japan, China and other Asian countries. 

He is a regular contributor to The Weekly Economist, one of the most highly regarded business weeklies in Japan. He teaches a financial management course for the MBA program at Meiji University Global Business School. Mr. Odagiri's expertise and understanding of finance, economy, and international affairs is well recognized in the Japanese business community. His insights are often quoted by such global media outlets as Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and CNBC.

Naoto Odagiri's wealth of professional, academic, and analytical experience are a welcome addition to Khan Bank's esteemed Board of Directors. 

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German government and business delegates visit Khan Bank, hold business meeting

March 17 -- Delegates from the German Government and private sector, led by Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Mr. Hans Joachim Fuchtel, visited Khan Bank on March 16, 2017, and held a business meeting. Khan Bank executive managers, led by CEO John Bell, introduced the bank and exchanged opinions with the German delegates. 

Khan Bank, a leading organization in Mongolia's banking and financial sector, has been collaborating with the German Investment Development Corporation (DEG) since 2012, and the DEG has issued a total of 12 million USD through long-term facilities  to promote small and medium-sized enterprises and another 12 million USD in subordinated debt to support the business and financial capacity of Khan Bank's customers.  

A subsidiary of Development Bank of Germany (KfW), DEG is a large, well-recognized financial institution with the mission to promote business initiatives in developing and emerging market countries, and to contribute to sustainable economic growth and improved living conditions in these countries. 

Khan Bank collaborates with a number of German banks, including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and BHF, in the areas of foreign settlement and trade finance facilities. With support from these German institutions, Khan Bank offers its customers flexible, transparent, and competitive trade finance products and service solutions tailored to their foreign trade business needs. 

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Sh.Byambatsogt talks about being TV announcer in Mongolia

March 23 (UB Post) Mongolian television announcer Sh.Byambatsogt received the State Honored Cultural Worker title earlier this year. He currently works at the MM agency of the Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB). He spoke about what it's like to be a television announcer in Mongolia in the interview below.

Congratulations on being awarded the State Honored Cultural Worker title. When were you informed of the good news?

I received a phone call from the President's Office at 5:28 p.m. on February 22. The caller told me that I was receiving the State Honored Cultural Worker title and congratulated me. The news choked me up. I couldn't separate from the tissue box for probably around five minutes afterwards. My tears were pouring out. It was obviously because I was so happy. I mean, I was getting such a prestigious state title after working in this sector for 26 years. I wouldn't have been that excited had I been working here for only around 10 years and not accomplished much. I was so grateful that my colleagues, friends, engineers, technicians, cameramen, reporters, editors, the audience, and everyone else recognized my efforts.

I assessed that I haven't lived in vain. The root of all of this is the 50-year-old MNB and 80-year-old Mongolian national radio, and everyone who gave their best in this line of work all these years. I was able to come thus far thanks to them. I believe that this title is the state's acknowledgement of television staff of all times. I can never fully express how grateful I am to my peers and listeners. I will continue the legacy of announcers, the voices of the Mongolian state, and pass it onto the next generation.

Can you tell us how you first entered MNB? Why did you decide to join the television sector?

MNB was called the State Committee of Radio and Television when I first joined it in 1987. I used to repeat after radio personalities even when they said difficult and long titles such as Deputy Speaker of Parliament of the Mongolian People's Republic Bayanmunkh Khorloo and Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's Central Committee secretary. I liked hearing these titles. Moreover, I really enjoyed arts and culture classes, and especially liked singing and dancing when I was in school. Seeing these interests, my father thought I would make a good television presenter and took me to the State Committee of Radio and Television. Back then, I had just finished high school. A lot of people brag about how they were selected from 300 or 400 applicants. But it wasn't like that in my case. I went along with my father because I was purely interested in this career. I think my father tried to find connections at the company. I'm from Khentii Province. State Honored Cultural Worker Jargal, who was the director of the State Committee of Radio and Television at the time, journalist Jagaa and TV announcer Khartsaga were from Khentii Province as well. They auditioned me and were pretty impressed. They told me I had a good voice and hired me.

So you found a job right after high school?

That's right. I graduated from a school in Bor-Undur soum of Khentii Province. Since then, I've been working in the television industry. I was first assigned to help the assistant director. I was later promoted to an assistant director and then, intern announcer.  I got my announcer's license in 1993. I tried to learn as much as possible from everyone, but announcer Khartsaga was the one from whom I learned the most. I had many good seniors who gave me advice like State Honored Cultural Worker Tsendkhand, Chuluunbat, Batbayar, Dorjbat, Jantsan, Khishigeer and Ragchaa.

How nervous were you on your first broadcast as an announcer?

Going on air was my biggest aspiration. Just by saying "Hello" through broadcasting seemed like a huge deal for me. I feared doing a live broadcast – probably because I was still young. I was finally going to be seen by viewers on television after working for years at the television station. The last step of broadcasting is presenting news. Announcers receive the latest and hottest news from journalists and newsrooms. Announcers are supposed to deliver that news to the audience while it's still "hot" and untouched. We must give facts as we're the bridge connecting the state and public. It's an important responsibility so I feel quite proud but also pressured to be more responsible.

In my opinion, MNB is a more traditional television compared to others. It states the truth without exaggeration or falsification. A whole team of journalists, editors, cameramen, directors, technicians and more prepare each news story. Some television broadcasts seems to share news prepared by only a cameraman and reporter. I believe that news can be more professionally prepared by a whole team.

Is it true that your father was an artist? Can you briefly talk about your parents?

My father is called Shagdarjav. He worked as a music conductor for the Khan Khentii ensemble before he retired. My mother, on the other hand, was a doctor. She also retired now. They're looking after their grandchildren back in our home place – Khentii Province.

My wife is an English teacher. I have three beautiful daughters. The oldest has gone abroad to get her master's degree. My second child is studying in middle school. My wife and I had our youngest daughter quite late. My daughter entered school this year.

Would you say you're a good father? How much time do you spend with your family?

I try to make as much time for my family as possible. I like to cook whenever I have free time. I try to cook the cuisines I had in restaurants. Sometimes, I like to make my own recipes and cook new dishes.

To be honest, I pushed back family time when I was young. But in the last three to four years, I've been increasing the time I spend with my family. At least, that's what I think. Before, I was devoted to my work. It was for my sake actually. If I work harder, I can earn more money. As hard as I work, I strive to deliver good programs and shows to the audience. I worked day and night without sleep or food and even ignored illnesses. I didn't care about celebrations and holidays. On the first day of Tsagaan Sar, I reported to work instead of greeting my parents. I haven't greeted them during Tsagaan Sar for a couple of years now. My parents come to me. I never asked for a day off to greet my parents on holidays. I seem to be very old-fashioned – I follow socialist views. I think this drives me to work harder.

Do people recognize you on the street? How do they react?

My current job and career is wonderful. Everyone treats me so well. People are really friendly when I go to the countryside. They seem to mistake me for their relative at first. They ask my wellbeing which gets me confused. I used to try to remember who they are but no one would come to my mind. Nowadays, I'm more used to it. Since they see my face and hear my voice on the television and radio often, they mistake me for their acquaintance or distant relative. After a while, most people remember that I'm an announcer. Similar incidences occur all the time. The public trusts that I will give them accurate information so in return, I try to do a better job.

There are many children and young people aspiring to become television and radio stars. What would you advise them?

Media and press organizations have increased in number. Of course, I would listen to young journalists. I don't really like to blatantly criticize. I share some of my know-hows when I meet a young journalist. Instead of harshly criticizing their work, I try to find their good sides, advise them on improving that area and give them some suggestions. It's better to talk while looking at the other person's eyes. You shouldn't look down as if you've done something bad. I often tell announcers to correctly take breaks in between sentences and breathe correctly while interviewing people.

When you're on live broadcast, you can't do well if you worry about your clothes, accessories, tie or outfit. You can't reach the audience or viewers. I try to imagine that I'm talking with a close friend when I'm interviewing people so I don't feel shy and everything we discuss is understandable for anyone. Nobody stutters when speaking with their parents. I hope I can continue working in the media sector for a long time. I hope that media representatives don't become acquainted with politicians and work with integrity as journalists.

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Ulaanbaatar

Protesters demand approval of national anti-air pollution national program

March 21 (UB Post) Around 300 people demonstrated at Sukhbaatar Square on March 18 to demand that the state adopts a national program on air pollution reduction by the end of March.

On National Soldiers' Day, protesters got in formation to spell "Utaag Shiid" (resolve smog) and "Emnelgee Bari" (build hospitals) with green cards held above their heads, and expressed their frustration with the government's slow efforts to improve air quality and eliminate air pollution-related diseases in Ulaanbaatar.

Air pollution-related diseases are the top three causes of premature death in adults in Mongolia. Pneumonia accounts for 15 percent of deaths among children and can be attributed to poor air quality. It's common for hospitals in Ulaanbaatar to become overwhelmed during the winter as the number of sick children admitted for care drastically increases.

Last year, UNICEF announced that Ulaanbaatar was one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Studies found that the lungs of children living in districts with the highest recorded levels of pollution did not function as well as those of children living in rural areas, putting them at risk of chronic respiratory diseases as they age.

On multiple occasions this winter, pollution readings in some ger areas were nearly 30 times higher than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization.

City residents said they would hold more demonstrations if the government continued to prolong the approval of the national anti-air pollution program and ignore their demand for the disclosure of government spending and other details on air pollution reduction projects carried out over the last 15 years.

"Air pollution is addressed only during winter and forgotten about during the rest of the year. To ensure this doesn't happen again, public measures to combat air pollution will be organized every month," said a member of Moms and Dads Against Smog (MDAS), a grassroots group of concerned citizens who have been organizing demonstrations against air pollution in Ulaanbaatar since last December.

Concerned Mongolians, from five to 80 years old, have been standing in frigid weather to call attention to this public health issue through three previous demonstrations. Their efforts to fight for the right to breathe fresh air have resonated worldwide, as people have supported their cause with demonstrations held in New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Virginia in the United States and in Budapest, Hungary.

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Air pollution program's initial cost totals to MNT 9.9 billion

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) The National Program on Reducing Air and Environmental Pollution is the key solution to the pressing issues of Ulaanbaatar, which a half of the country's population call home, said a government official on Thursday during a meeting with journalists.

The meeting took place among media representatives and officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office. Present were also, Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol and Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar in charge of Green Growth and Air Pollution J.Batbayasgalan.

The city administration and the government have been fiercely criticized for the past several year that they have been making the issue of air pollution fade away as the climate gets warmer and the smog level decreases naturally.

"The city administration has been doing its best to satisfy its residents on this problem. However, we need journalists' support on introducing and implementing this nationwide program targeted to reducing air pollution", said J.Batbayasgalan.

The national program was approved on March 20 by the cabinet of ministers, with five key objectives to be realized in 2017-2019 (Phase I) and 2020-2025 (Phase II). Total initial cost will be MNT 9.9 billion.

Minister D.Oyunkhorol informed: the Key Strategic Objectives include Sophistication of urban planning; Decentralization; Improving infrastructure; Curbing pollution and Shaping eco-friendly lifestyle among citizens and ensuring people's right to secure and healthy living environment, as set out in the Constitution of Mongolia.

Within the First Objective, the program actions will be directed at gradually reducing usage of raw coal for fuel by introducing households to latest environmentally friendly technologies. Decentralization, the Second Objective, is to be mobilized through adequate urban planning and infrastructure policies.

Raising public's awareness of pollutants and establishing an merit and incentive-based system for curbing air pollution are also important factor in making the objective come in life, said the Minister. 

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Mongolia to ban coal burning by 2021

March 21 (news.mn) While most of the year Ulaanbaatar's skies are clear, between November and March, visibility beyond a few blocks is nearly impossible in many parts of the city. Coal burning by the 175,000 households in the ger districts, for cooking and heating, contributes to the severity of air pollution in wintertime – summer air pollution is much lower. Ulaanbaatar's "harmful dust" is 6-7 times higher than the most lenient World Health Organization standards.

A national programme for fighting air-pollution was approved by Mongolian Parliament at a meeting on 20th of March. The programme has two parts; the short term 2017-2018 and the medium term 2018-2021. The Government intends to totally ban using coal in ger districts after implementing the 59 measures contained in the programme. It is expected that it will be possible to decrease the source of air-pollution by 80%, dust and CO2 by 50%.

According to the survey, 697 in each 10,000 residents of Ulaanbaatar were sick primarily due to the effects of pollution in 2005, however, it reached 1730 in 2014. This last winter's ratio is expected to be higher still.

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China Datang Corp to collaborate on reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) On March 17, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat received a visiting delegation to Mongolia of China Datang Corporation at the latter's request. China Datang expressed interest in investing in Mongolia's energy and heating system.

At the beginning of this meeting, the Prime Minister highlighted that investment to energy and heating will be supported in Mongolia by all means, mentioning the Mongolian and Chinese sides have agreed on building joint regional energy generator during the visit of China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Mongolia, took place last September.

China Datang has abundant expertise in coal liquefaction and air pollution reduction approaches. The delegates shared that the company has been participating in Beijing's projects on air pollution, as its fuel technology maintains the lowest amount of toxic smog emission.

A pivotal part of Ulaanbaatar's air pollution is caused by chimney smoke from Ger households, said PM J.Erdenebat in response. What Ulaanbaatar needs first is a comprehensive project on expanding the reach of electric power network, ensuring reliability of energy resources and extending the heating system to ger areas. "We will be willing to consider cooperation with you in the presence of such a comprehensive project", he underlined.

President of China Datang, Mr Chen Jinhang pledged to submit a proposal for a package of project directed at tackling Ulaanbaatar's air pollution. 

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Experts raise concerns about scarce drinking water resources

March 23 (UB Post) Mongolian hydrogeology experts urged the nation to protect and conserve underground water due to high risks of contamination.

Mongolia uses 600 to 700 million cubic meters of water every year on average and more than 90 percent of the domestic drinking water is drawn from underground reserves, according to experts.

Executive Director of the Mongolian Association of Hydrogeologists G.Batjargal highlighted that the main sources of water for Ulaanbaatar are likely to be exposed to contaminants, during a press conference on Monday. The conference was held in an attempt to tackle water challenges through World Water Day.

Latest studies show that the large amounts of contaminants were found at the bottom of large rivers that supply water to Ulaanbaatar.

"We must monitor water bodies to prevent contamination in the main source of drinking water. Mongolia hasn't conducted environmental monitoring in recent years. Honestly, hydrogeologists failed to determine the exact level of groundwater contamination with the previous monitoring survey. We're only able to measure the level of water in rivers and other bodies of water," urged G.Batjargal.

Experts say that Mongolia will be unable to recover lost sources of water as it is a land-locked country and pointed to growing industrialization and urbanization as the main causes of water contamination.

A recent research showed that Mongolia's water reserves decreased by approximately 30 percent since 1980.

Hydrogeologists recommended taking measures to increase public awareness about water and further research water conservation.

N.Buyankhishig, the vice dean of the School of Geology and Mining Engineering of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, said, "All 17 goals of the UN Sustainable Goals are connected to water. It's impossible to achieve sustainable development without resolving water challenges. We don't provide water related education in Mongolia. Locals don't have access to information about where water comes from, what it compromises of, and how it should be used. It's especially important to improve children and young people's knowledge about water."

World Water Day is annually observed on March 22. This year's World Water Day will focus on wastewater.

A research, conducted by the Public Health Center on the consumption of water in 2016, show that households in ger areas use 15.6 liters of water per person a day while households in apartments use 90 liters per person. Though water consumption of apartment residents is nearly six times higher than people in ger areas, their consumption doesn't exceed water limits specified by WHO.

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Concession agreement on Ulaanbaatar sewage facility to be introduced

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) During the Cabinet's regular meeting on March 20, Monday, Head of Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat reported on the conclusion of a working group which was designated to implement Ulaanbaatar Sewage Facility Construction project and discuss the conditions of concession contract with proposed entities.

The working group suggests the partnership of Bogda JSC and Jinhua LLC which has made a proposal inclusive of technical and economic assessment and technological solution recommended by the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and a corresponding Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The partnership offers to fund 30 percent of the project with its own investment, and the remaining 70 percent with a 10-year loan which has 4-year grace period and 5 percent annual interest.

National Development Agency was tasked to reach consensus on a build-operate-transfer type of concession contract to realize the Ulaanbaatar Sewage Facility Construction project, and report to the Cabinet.

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EBRD to support "Green cities" program

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Capital City Governor's Office have signed a memorandum of understanding on implementation of "Green cities" program.

The MOU was signed by Natalia Khanjenkova, the Managing Director for Central Asia and Russia at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and J.Batbayasgalan, Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar for Green Development and Air Pollution.

J.Batbayasgalan remarked" In line with rapid expansion of Ulaanbaatar city, air, water and soil pollutions are getting urgent problems. ''Green Cities'' program will be carried out to deal with a number of challenges including waste water treatment, green infrastructure development and solid garbage removal /recycling/.  Furthermore, Ulaanbaatar is facing the drinking water reserve scarcity and in this regard, we are looking forward to implement a number of projects on development of green cities with EBRD in the future. World countries having joined the UN Convention are making efforts to tackle with climate change especially in reducing greenhouse emission by raising significant funds. This memorandum will be an important push to launch a fundraising event for carrying out projects and programs forward at green development.

In turn, Natalia Khanjenkova, the Managing Director for Central Asia and Russia at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said" Preparation works for recycling and waste water treatment projects are basically completed. We will financially support above mentioned projects. For instance, the Global Climate foundation is affordable to finance the projects. We expect positive outcome from the implementation of the projects for development of Ulaanbaatar".

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EBRD Project Summary: GrCF Ulaanbaatar Solid Waste Modernisation Project

Country: Mongolia

Project number: 46581

Business sector: Municipal and environmental infrastructure

Notice type: Public

Environmental category: IESE

Target board date: 21 Jun 2017

Status: Passed Final Review, Pending Board Approval

PSD disclosed: 20 Mar 2017

Project Description

The provision of a senior loan of up to USD 8.1 million (EUR 7.6 million) to the City of Ulaanbaatar (the "City" or "Ulaanbaatar"), the largest city in Mongolia, to finance the City's Priority Investment Programme ("PIP"). The PIP includes investments designed to expand the City's landfilling capacity and build a Construction and Demolition Waste ("CDW") plant. Additionally, the machinery and equipment necessary for the landfill and CDW plant operations will be purchased. It is expected that the Project will be co-financed by a concessional loan of USD 3.5 million (EUR 3.3 million) and investment grants of USD 3 million (EUR 2.8 million).

Project Objectives

  • Decrease pollution: the City's existing landfilling capacity is limited, and the quality of the existing landfill sites is sub-standard. The construction waste increasingly generated by the growing City is dumped into the existing landfills or elsewhere, without being crushed or recycled. The Project's objective is to help avoid environmental pollution related to the lack of landfilling capacity and introduce proper management practices in relation to construction waste. The Project's substantial environmental benefits include reduction of CO2 emissions (on average 18 thousand tonnes per annum or 300 thousand tonnes by 2037). 
  • Prepare the City for a Green City Action Plan ("GCAP"): the Project will be one of the first subprojects under the Bank's Green City Framework ("GrCF"). The comprehensive GCAP will be developed for the City to identify priority environmental challenges and suggest corresponding green investments. With a number of environmental issues and under-developed infrastructure, Ulaanbaatar is an appropriate candidate for practical launch of the GrCF. 
  • Test the structure of direct lending to the City: this is envisioned to be the first sub-sovereign project in Mongolia.

Transition Impact

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ADB developing feasibility study on Affordable Housing Program

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) Deputy Governor of the capital P.Bayarkhuu met with a working group of the Asian Development Bank to develop a feasibility study on "Affordable housing program".  The working group introduced principles of the program planning and working plan to the Deputy Governor.  

The program targets at ger districts, aiming to establish different types of apartments that match income classes. The apartment towns should have public and government services, including schools, kindergartens, shopping and service centers and public facilities, complying with standards that reflected in Ulaanbaatar city master plan. 

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Ulaanbaatar Buildings Unable to Withstand Earthquakes To Be Demolished

March 21 (UB Post) Nearly 100 buildings failing to meet seismic resilience standards will be demolished according to a new order issued by the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office.

The General Agency of Specialized Inspection evaluated 566 buildings in Ulaanbaatar and assessed that only 172 of them were earthquake resistant, 75 buildings could be retrofitted, and 319 buildings would be unable to withstand a major earthquake. The report concluded that of the 319 buildings determined to be unsafe, it was dangerous to allow 172 of the buildings to remain operational.

After discussing earthquake risk and preparedness with Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh last week, Mayor S.Batbold decided to develop new architectural plans for 98 of the buildings that will be condemned.

The Deputy Prime Minister and the Mayor emphasized that improving the disaster preparedness of the public will considerably reduce the risk of disaster in the event of a major earthquake. In addition to ordering the demolition of unsafe buildings, they ordered city and province emergency departments to focus on raising public awareness about earthquake readiness.

"Around 200 earthquakes occurred near Ulaanbaatar in 2000, but the number of earthquakes rose to some 1,800 in 2016. I believe that our first priority is teaching the masses how to prepare for earthquakes and how to protect themselves when an earthquake occurs," noted U.Khurelsukh. Approximately 28,000 quakes were recorded in Mongolia last year.

Pursuing cost-effective interventions, such as retrofitting public buildings to resist largerearthquakes, was strongly recommended by representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency, Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, Ulaanbaatar City Council, the World Bank, and civil society organizations. The recommendation was made during a consultative workshop on the seismic resilience of public schools in Ulaanbaatar held on March 16.

The workshop's participants said that retrofitting could become an anchor for a broader disaster risk reduction program and prevent the collapse of buildings.

They also highlighted the need to start earthquakу preparedness programs in other densely populated areas along fault lines, and recommended retrofitting for other types of older public buildings with high occupancy, such as hospitals.

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Mayor attends 'Nauryz – 2017' honorary event

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) "Kazakhs living in Mongolia have successfully kept their culture and tradition in its original form for generations, and it's due to their efforts and the right policy pursued by Mongolian Government on minority", remarked Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold as he attended 'Nauryz – 2017' honorary event which was held on the occasions of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Kazakhstan and Nauryz festival of the Kazakhs which falls on March 22.

The event was attended by Member of Parliament Kh.Badelkhan, former Members of Parliament A.Tleikhan and A.Bakei, Deputy Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry J.Saule and citizens of Kazakhstan residing in Mongolia.

The Mayor also said, "The interpretation and significance of Nauryz festival is broadening in Mongolia, with the Kazakhs in Bayan-Ulgii, Khovd, Darkhan-Uul and Orkhon aimags celebrating the festival widely", and conveyed his greetings for the festival.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Mongolia Kalybek Koblandin was present at the event and emphasized on how bilateral relations were upgrading in a 'reliable partnership' level between Kazakhstan and Mongolia which 'share a same history and destiny'.

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April book swap event to be held on Apr 1

March 21 (gogo.mn) Book swap event will take place at Sukhbaatar square on Apr 1 (Saturday) at 12 p.m - 01 p.m. The event is set to be held on the first Saturday of every month. 

The book swap event aims to bring city central public library services to residents, make friendship through books and swap books with others. 

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Only smart card holders allowed for ride buses in UB

March 24 (gogo.mn) Only smart cards will be used for payment for a bus ride starting Apr 1 (Saturday). In other words, cash payments will not be accepted, reports City Transportation Department. 

Currently there are 480 Smart Card purchase and recharge spots are available nearby the bus stops at the trade and service centers. "U money" bus smart card price is decreased to MNT 2000 with no expiration date.

Moreover monthly bus passes will be purchased at government civil centers located at Dunjingarav, Misheel and Dragon from next Monday (Mar 27) at a rate of MNT 25,000 per adult and MNT 25,000 per child. 

Replacement passes for lost passes can be issued at MNT 3000. 

Passengers will be fined with MNT 5000, if they do not use smart cards for payment for a bus ride.

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What is the Mongolia Capital City Tax?

March 22 (Lehman Law) As we have discussed in the past, the Law on Capital City Tax was approved by the Parliament and new law has come into valid since October 1, 2015. Regulations dealing with procedures to register a tax payer, removal from registration and receipt of information was also approved in order to implement the law.

According to the law, the Capital City Tax is imposed on entities providing four special services including barsrestaurants, hotels and resorts. Other type of entities are exempt from the Capital City Tax.

However, retailers of all types of alcoholic beverages (including vodka, wine, whiskey, cognac, champagne, beer and airag /horse milk/ etc) and cigarettes (cigar, pipe and tobacco), which are operating on the premises of the Capital City are also considered tax withholders under the law.

The tax rate can be determined around 0-1.0 percent by the Citizens Representative Khural of Capital City based on the location and concentration of the population of particular area in Ulaanbaatar. Thus, the Resolution No 29/19 of Citizens Representative Khural of Capital City, September 29, 2015, set the Capital City Tax at 1 percent for above mentioned services and products in Capital City.

As for improving the Capital City Tax and taxation system, the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, S. Batbold, and Head of the General Taxation Department L. Zorig signed recently a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2017.

Under this document The General Taxation Department will collaborate with the Mayor's Office to monitor the implementation of tax laws and regulations, and continue the implementation of the law on Capital City Tax and the VAT.

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"Ulaanbaatar Marathon 2017" to be held on May 20

March 22 (gogo.mn) Opening ceremony of the "Ulaanbaatar Marathon 2017" will take place at the Sukhbaatar square on May 20. 

The event is organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, City Governor`s Office, City Tourism Department, Mongolian National Olympic Committee and Mongolian Marathon Association. 

The main purpose of the event is to develop marathon sports, advertise Ulaanbaatar city to the world, increase the number of residents interested in running, provide physical and mental education to youths. 

The professional category is divided into semi - 21 km; and full - 42 km distances. Amateurs' marathon is divided into 3 distances with 4 age groups. Specifically, 5 km distance will include ages between 12-17, 18-35, 36-54, 55 and above. 

There is also marathon designed for families and people with disabilities for 1.5 km distance.

Runners who finish in 4-10th places in any category will be rewarded with medals, certificate and cash prize.

Entrants may register at www.ub-marathon.ub.gov.mn online or go to relative sports committee in your district or capital city sports & physical culture office. Registration fee is US$ 20 for foreign participants.

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Related:

Ulaanbaatar Marathon organizers aim for expansionMontsame, March 22

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Mongolian delegation visits "Smart Strip" of Nagpur city

Nagpur, March 21 (Nagpur Today): A delegation from Mongolia and members of GIZ Nexus on Monday arrived in the city and inspected the "Smart Strip" being developed under 'Smart City' project. The delegation will visit Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) Project in Bhandewadi and Mahagenco on Tuesday (March 21).

Soon after their arrival in city at 11 am, the Mongolian delegation and GIZ members paid a visit to NEERI and held a meeting with senior scientists. In the afternoon, the dignitaries visited Shankarnagar Square on West High Court Road which is aptly called 'Smart Strip' for being under CCTV monitoring and extending Wi-Fi facility to public. The delegation also inspected a Ward where 24X7 water supply is being ensured. Deputy Engineer of NMC Dupare and other officials updated the delegation about the ambitious scheme.

The visiting dignitaries include Project Director of GIZ Nexus Ruth Erlbeck, Technical Expert Olf Tross, Mongolia's National Convener S Tiseredas, Chief of Staff in office of Ulan Bator Mayor and Ulan Bator City Project General Manager T Guntumur, and other officials. Nagpur Mayor Nanda Jichkar, Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar, and other senior officials were present on the occasion.

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UB Mayor begins tour of Europe with Warsaw

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city S.Batbold paid a visit to Warsaw, Poland in the scope of his working visit to Europe on March 22.

The visiting delegation includes Ch.Gantulga, Representative of City Council \Citizen's Representative Khural\ and Mongolian Honorary Consul in Hungary, D.Munkh-Erdene, Senior advisor to the UB Governor, Sh.Sukhbaatar and other officials. The visit aims to study to introduce European standards and set up cooperation with some major European cities.

In the course of the visit, the delegates will be getting acquainted with the best solution of sewage treatment facilities and waste management and progressive achievements made in the public transportation sector of European cities.

The city of Warsaw shares a lot of similarities with Ulaanbaatar, including a number of population. In this regard, there are a wide range of possibilities to learn from Warsaw experience on urban planning in Ulaanbaatar city.

In Warsaw, UB Mayor met with Ms.Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw and the sides have expressed their interests to upgrade further cooperation of two cities. Also Ms. Hanna said she is pleased to share experience with Ulaanbaatar and expressed her readiness to give professional support to public transportation planning of Ulaanbaatar city.

In response, S.Batbold, UB Mayor expressed his satisfaction with the strengthening of bilateral cooperation of the two cities, while highlighting the long-term diplomatic relations and cooperation of Poland and Mongolia. In conclusion of the meeting, he invited the Warsaw Mayor to pay a visit to Mongolia at her convenient time.

The next stop of the Mongolian delegation is Budapest, Hungary.

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Speaker M.Enkhbold visits the new airport in Khushig Valley

March 24 (UB Post) On March 22, Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold visited the site of the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, which is being built with Japanese financing.

When Speaker M.Enkhbold asked the airport's Project Director, B.Enkhbat, why power supply infrastructure for the airport has been delayed, B.Enkhbat said that the airport's emergency generator and power transmission lines from the Songino-Tuul hydroelectic power plant have been installed, but completion has been delayed because of financial challenges facing the power plant.

He reported that the power plant is at nearly 90 percent completion, and that it is being designed to be the airport's main source of power, but the project has exceeded its budget.

B.Enkhbat added that he has informed Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold of the financial issues and asked for assistance, as the power supply project is being financed by the city.

The Speaker of Parliament said, "Mongolia has the responsibility to carry out some construction projects, but some of them have been stopped due to a lack of financing. We must resolve this financial problem quickly to complete this megaproject."

Speaker M.Enkhbold underlined that the project will be completed by instructing the heads of the state agencies involved in the airport to resolve financial challenges quickly.

A state-appointed airport review commission requested the resolution of 1,160 works in progress, and the airport's management team reports that approximately 1,000 works have been completed to meet the commission's standards.

After another 200 of the commission's requests are fulfilled, the new airport will be ready to launch its first flights. The new airport is expected to begin official operations in May 2018, and its opening is expected to create nearly 300 new jobs.

Employees of Chinngis Khaan International Airport will be transferring to the new airport in advance of its opening.

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Satellite town to be built near new airportMontsame, March 23

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New airport expected to commence operations next year

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) The new airport in Khushig Valley, Tuv aimag is expected to begin full operations by May 2018, officials report.

In the frameworks of New Ulaanbaatar International Airport (NUBIA) project, more than 30 facilities will be put into operation.

Earlier this year, the completed constructions were handed over to the Ministry of Road and Transport by the main contractor, Mitsubishi-Chiyodain Joint Venture of Japan in compliance with the concerning contract. And technical and State Commission inspections were launched to detect some violations. Corrections of some violations are being delayed due to weather conditions, the officials noted.

Preliminary estimate by the Ministry of Road and Transport Development indicates that the Khushig Valley airport is to begin fully operating in 2018.

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Diplomacy

Mongolia makes presentation at UN on women's rights

March 22 (news.mn) Mongolia gave a presentation at a Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on 17th of March. The conference is being held in New York.  The Mongolian delegation gave a presentation entitled 'Challenges and Achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for women and girls in Mongolia'. The presentation was prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and outlined the many activities which have been achieved since the 2005, when the State Great Khural (Parliament), endorsed the national MDG's and 2008, when the MDG-based 'National Development Strategy' was launched.

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Mongolian delegates present voluntary national reportMontsame, March 22

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Parliamentary State Secretary of Germany visits Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic cooperation and development of Federal Republic of Germany Hans-Joachim Fuchtel paid an official visit to Mongolia on March 16-18.

He visited German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology to get introduced to projects and research works by professors of the institution. Mr. Hans-Joachim Fuchtel pledged to introduce the importance of 'Ger districts with Clean Air" project to the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and seek possibilities to support the project as a model project. The joint Institute for Resources and Technology was established in 2013.

The Governments of the two countries successfully completed the first-stage agreement on the development of the institute and agreed to continue the second stage in 2016-2019 as an actual support of cooperation in education and mining sectors, noted State secretary of Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports B.Bayarsaikhan. The state secretaries planted trees outside the university.

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Minister of Road and Transport Development meets Turkish Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) On March 16, D.Ganbat, Minister of Road and Transport Development received Ahmet Yazal, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia to exchange views on Mongolia-Turkey bilateral cooperation in the transport sector.

At the beginning of the meeting, Minister D.Ganbat congratulated the Turkish Ambassador on his prestigious and responsible appointment in Mongolia and then expressed his confidence in the Ambassador for his contribution to strengthening the bilateral relations and collaboration.

The Minister said that partnership in the transport sector plays main role in the bilateral economic collaboration between Mongolia and Turkey and mentioned that the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) has been cooperating with Mongolia since 1994. He further noted that bridges under and over the Bosphorus and railway tunnels built by Turkey is a huge development and asked the Turkish side to share its experiences in this direction with Mongolia. 

At the meeting, Ambassador Ahmet Yazal expressed his willingness to actively cooperate in the development of road and transport. "Historical relations between Mongolia and Turkey have been further intensified presently. 'Mongolians are the beginning of history'. Long-time friends Mongolia and Turkey still maintain a great relationship in the politic and social areas. Thus, it is necessary to enhance trade and economic ties with a view to increase the number of tourists to travel from Turkey to Mongolia".

He continued that Turkey is ready to cooperate in an area of investment and will help Mongolia to promote development projects and programs to be carried-out by the Ministry of Road and Transport. In addition, the Turkish Ambassador met with the specialists of the Ministry of Road and Transport Development and received information about projects and programs to be implemented in the future and informed about the opportunities to collaborate on capacity building and domestic management.

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Honorary Consulate of Mongolia opened in Quebec, Canada

March 21 (Embassy of Mongolia to Canada) The opening ceremony of the Honorary consulate of Mongolia with its seat in Quebec province held on March 21, 2017 in Montreal.

The opening ceremony was attended by Ambassador Radnaabazar Altangerel, Deputy Minister for international relations and the Francophonie Mr.Jean-Stéphane Bernard, Mr. Henri-Paul Normandin, city of Montreal Director for International Relations, General and Honorary Consuls of foreign countries, authorities of Government of Quebec, municipality, delegation of Mongolian community in Quebec, business and press delegations.

The Ambassador Radnaabazar Altangerel Deputy Minister for international relations and the Francophonie Mr.Jean-Stéphane Bernard, Mr. Henri-Paul Normandin, city of Montreal Director for International Relations delivered an opening remarks and Ambassador officially handed the Honorary consul's seal and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia's Note verbale and exequatur of the Canadian side to Mr.Paul.

The Ambassador emphasized that the Honorary Consul's priority is to support the legal rights of the Mongolian citizens and highlighted the importance of enhancing the extended partnership relations between Mongolia and Canada, mediate Mongolian culture, develop business to business relationship and wished Mr. Paul every success for his future endeavour.

Deputy Minister for international relations and the Francophonie Mr.Jean-Stéphane Bernard, Mr. Henri-Paul Normandin, city of Montreal Director for International Relations congratulated Mr. Paul for his appointment as Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Quebec, one of the important trade, economic and cultural provinces of Canada and expressed their interest of cooperation for the cause of furthering the already existing the friendly relations between two countries. They also expressed their belief that Honorary Consul's post will bring fruitful outcome for the bilateral relations between two countries.

About 500 Mongolians are living in Quebec and Mongolian community, Mongolia-Canada Educational and cultural center, Mongolian language courses are successfully operating in Montreal.

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Mongolian Ambassador to Czech Republic presents credentials

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Czech Republic N.Naranbat presented his diplomatic credentials to President of Czech Republic Milos Zeman on March 15.

After conveying greetings from Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia to the President of Czech Republic, Ambassador N.Naranbat expressed his willingness to work towards intensifying traditional and friendly relations between Mongolia and Czech in all spheres, especially the people-to-people ties.

In turn, Czech President Milos Zeman congratulated Ambassador N.Naranbat on presenting the credentials and expressed his satisfaction with the productive development of bilateral relations, yielding significant benefits. 

At the ceremony of presenting diplomatic credentials, Jindrak Rudolf, Director of Foreign Affairs Department of the Office of the President of the Czech Republic and Mr. Lukáš Kaucký, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic were in attendance.

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Czech Republic threatens to close Embassy in Mongolia over protests

March 23 (news.mn) Nearly 30 Mongolians have been protesting outside the building of the Czech Embassy to Ulaanbaatar over visa requirements. The demonstration took place on 22nd of March and results from the fact that Mongolians have had to wait for between 1-2 years imply to make an appointment to apply for a Czech long-term work visa. Some people made an appointment before Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian traditional spring festival (27-30th of February), but for some reason the Czech Embassy subsequently cancelled their appointments. Making an appointment is only the first step in applying for a visa at the Embassy. The protestors said 'Each of the visa applicants has had to pay Euro 650 to the Czech Embassy simply for making an appointment'.

Officials from the Czech Embassy explained that they hadn't deliberately removed them from appointment list. They have proposed jointly negotiating this matter. Furthermore, if the Mongolians don't stop their demonstration, they will close their Embassy and to stop issuing visas entirely.

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Deputy PM meets Deputy head of Russian Presidential Administrative Directorate

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) On March 21, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Mongolian Group of the Intergovernmental Commission of Mongolia and Russia U.Khurelsukh met with Deputy Head of the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation Pavel Michailovich Fradkov. The sides exchanged views on expanding bilateral friendly relations and cooperation and noted the importance of complete realization of measures and actions, which were mutually agreed during 20th meeting of the Intergovernmental commission of Mongolia and Russia.

The Mongolian Prime Minister is planning to pay a visit to the Russian Federation soon, therefore, the officials discussed issues making the visit efficient, as the visit will be vital stimulus to advance the friendly relationship and cooperation of the two countries.

The Russian side expressed its position on resolving issues regarding immoveable properties of Russia in Mongolian territory systematically within the framework of Mongolian laws and regulations as well as relevant bilateral agreements.

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First planning conference of Selenga 2017 Russia-Mongolia exercise taking place in Mongolia

March 21 (Ministry of Defence of Russian Federation) First planning consultations of the Selenga 2017 Russia-Mongolia exercise took place in Ulan Bator.

Delegations of the Eastern military district and Mongolian Armed Forces discussed organization of the exercise. The exercise will take place in Mongolia.

More than 1,000 servicemen from both countries will participate in the Selenga 2017 exercise. 

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Regional partners in Guam for military seminar

March 22 (Guam Daily Post) Regional military partners are in Guam this week to improve cohesion and build relations as the U.S. continues its power shift into the Asia-Pacific region.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program pairs 79 partner countries, 15 of which are in the Asia-Pacific region, with National Guard forces across the U.S.

This week's training involves six member countries partnered with their U.S. counterparts:

  • Alaska and Mongolia
  • Hawaii and Indonesia
  • Idaho and Cambodia
  • Guam and the Philippines
  • Nevada and Tonga
  • Oregon and Bangladesh

This is also the first time the seminar is being held in Guam since the program was established over 20 years ago.

"The idea is to take advantage of our geographic location as a central meeting ground for participating countries," said Guam National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Josephine Blas on Tuesday after the conference commenced.

The benefit to Guam's forces, Blas said, is that it "ensures the safety of Guam and the region."

"We have good relationships, all of us in this room – we're friends," Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio said. "And we're here to learn how to forecast emergency response, instead of being reactive to it."

Array of topics

The seminar covers a broad spectrum of professional development and skill-building topics.

Over the course of this week, participants will cover Development In Vulnerable Environments and Joint Humanitarian Region Specific Engagement.

According to Blas, DIVE emphasizes post-disaster response and rebuilding.

"We're going to take a look at how we can bounce back more effectively after a disaster hits."

Blas also said relationship building is about "give and take," and that Guam soldiers "benefit whenever we get to learn and apply skills internationally."

Building a safer region

She recalled the extensive humanitarian assistance the Guam National Guard provided to post-Super Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts in Tacloban, Philippines, in 2014.

"In just a few days, I remember we provided dental and medical treatment to almost 4,000 civilians," Blas said. "This is just one of the ways improving civil relations helps to build a safer region."

At the same time, Blas said Guam guardsmen regularly participate in training operations in the Philippines to "discover different ways of doing things and share knowledge."

The seminar is funded through, and administered by, the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii.

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President Ts.Elbegdorj meets UNSG Special Envoy for Road Safety

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) On March 22, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj welcomed Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety and President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). During his visit to Mongolia, Mr. Jean Todt worked at the Ministry of Road and Transport and the Traffic Police Department. 

Mr. Jean Todt met with the authorities of the organizations and exchanged views on road and traffic safety issues.

The UN proclaimed the period 2011–2020 as a Decade of Action for Road Safety. At the meeting with the President of Mongolia, Mr. Jean Todt expressed that UN will support Mongolia's effort to join the UN road safety conventions. 

www.president.mn

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Malta Foreign Minister greets new ambassadors of Mongolia and Armenia

March 23 (Malta MFA) Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella held meetings with the new ambassadors-designate of Mongolia and Armenia.

Meeting with the Ambassador-designate of Mongolia Jambaldorj Tserendorj, Minister Vella underlined the potential for increased cooperation between both countries, despite the geographical distances. This was particularly relevant in the finance, tourism, investment and education sectors. In highlighting the need for increased people-to-people contact, the Minister encouraged the further exchange of students and academic staff, particularly in the tourism and medical fields. 

Minister Vella also remarked that Malta's EU membership facilitated contact with Mongolia through inter-regional fora such as the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). In this regard, the Minister recalled with satisfaction his visit to Mongolia for the 11th ASEM Summit on the 15th and 16th of July 2016, as part of the Malta delegation led by Prime Minister, Dr Joseph Muscat. On the margins of this summit, two important agreements were also signed by both countries - the Air Services Agreement and the Visa Waiver for Diplomatic Passports Agreement. 

Ambassador-designate Tserendorj agreed with the points raised by the Minister, and noted that the EU-Mongolia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement facilitates trade, dialogue and cooperation in various sectors. In this regard, the Ambassador-designate expressed his commitment to take the ties between Mongolia and Malta to the next level.

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The Ambassador of Mongolia presents his credentials to the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca President of Malta, March 23

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Mongolian yurt library opens in Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan, March 26 (The China Post) -- Taiwan's first library taking the form of a Mongolian yurt was inaugurated on Saturday on the 11th floor of the National Immigration Agency (NIA) building in Taipei, allowing second-generation Mongolian children to enjoy the experience of reading Mongolian books in a yurt.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, NIA director general Ho Jung-chun (何榮村) said that the Mongolian yurt library was the brainchild of Lin Tsai-lin, an immigrant from Mongolia who married a Taiwanese man, in the hopes of helping Mongolian children in Taiwan learn more about Mongolian culture by reading Mongolian publications in a yurt and also allowing people in Taiwan to better understand Mongolia.

Over the past three months, Lin has successfully collected around 300 Mongolian-language children's publications, all donated by Mongolian families, friends, bookstores and international organizations.

To celebrate the inauguration, Mongolian dancing, contortionist performances, and a "catwalk show" of children wearing traditional Mongolian costumes took place at the ceremony.

Among VIPs present at the ceremony were Hai Chung-hsiung, director of the Mongolian Affairs Department under the Mongolian & Tibetan Affairs Commission, and representatives from Mongolia's Ulaanbaatar Trade Representative Office in Taipei and Taipei City Library.

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Dalai Lama's travel plans ignite reincarnation row

Trip to Tibetan community in India angers China as it seeks to control succession

by Lucy Hornby

March 24 (FT) The ageing Dalai Lama's upcoming trip to a Himalayan settlement under Indian control has angered China just as its Communist rulers seek to exert control over the mystical process of reincarnating a successor to the Tibetan Buddhist leader.

"The Indian government allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang is not friendly to China," Lian Xiangmin, director of the Institute of Contemporary Tibetan Studies at the China Tibetology Research Centre, told journalists in Beijing on Thursday. "Only bad can come of the Dalai Lama going to Tawang, nothing good."

In Tibet's unique strain of Buddhism the succession of senior lamas, who also wield temporal power, is determined by reincarnation. The 81-year-old Dalai Lama, who has gained global celebrity during a life in exile, is the 14th of his lineage. He has said he will not be reincarnated in territory controlled by China, while the officially atheist Communist government in Beijing has declared that he will.

His planned trip in early April to Tawang, a Tibetan community in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas, has raised alarm in Beijing. It follows his visit in November to Mongolia, which practises a similar form of Buddhism.

China's foreign ministry said this month it had expressed "grave concerns" to India about the Tawang visit. The Asian giants have a prickly relationship, although ties have warmed under Narendra Modi, India's prime minister.

Disputed borders in the Himalayas were roughly agreed in the late 19th century between the Qing dynasty in Beijing and the British in India, before being reset during brief border wars between China and India in the 1960s. China claims Arunachal as part of Tibet, which it invaded in 1950, and also vociferously objected to a recent visit by Richard Verma, former US ambassador to India.

In Tawang, the Dalai Lama will be met by Kiren Rijiju, Indian home minister, who is himself a practising Buddhist and comes from Arunachal. Mr Rijiju said the Tibetan spiritual leader's followers in Tawang had requested his visit, and there was no reason not to permit it. Asked if the move would antagonise China, he said India would not capitulate to foreign pressure.

"We are neither going to be dominated by anyone nor shall we dominate any of our neighbours," he said. "We give prime importance to India's interest."

A senior Indian official in New Delhi told the Financial Times that the Dalai Lama "is a respected religious leader, and he is free to choose where he wants to travel. He is a guest here. No political connotation need be attached to any of his activities."

Robbie Barnett, Tibet scholar at Columbia University, said the visits opened the possibility that the successor could be sought in India or Mongolia. That is a problem for Beijing's efforts to stifle separatist sentiment among the 6m Tibetans who inhabit the Tibetan plateau, source of most of China's major rivers.

"China's Dalai Lama watchers are trapped in a reincarnation sandwich nightmare," Mr Barnett said. "This is deeply worrying to the Chinese. They're caught in a pincer movement of the metaphysical."

Tawang happens to be the birthplace in 1683 of the sixth Dalai Lama, whose sensuous love poems have become popular among Chinese today. The Dalai Lama's previous visit in 2009 also triggered friction between Beijing and New Delhi.

Tibet was an ally of the Qing dynasty and "liberated" by the Chinese army after the Communists won the Chinese civil war in 1949. The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa along with 70,000-80,000 refugees after a failed Tibetan uprising in 1959 at the height of China's forced collectivisation drive. Chinese scholars estimate there are now 200,000 Tibetans in the diaspora. Some boys born outside Tibet have already been identified as reincarnations of minor lineages.

In 1995 Beijing selected the 11th Panchen Lama, the second-most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, after a failed attempt by senior Tibetans within China to anoint a mutually agreed choice. The six-year-old boy who was the Dalai Lama's selection disappeared and has never been heard from again. That experience hardened the Dalai Lama's desire to keep his succession out of Chinese hands. 

However, the Mongolian option seems impractical given China's economic dominance. The Dalai Lama's visit there coincided with an indebted Chinese border town raising fees on copper and coal trucked from Mongolia's biggest mines. The Mongolian foreign minister agreed that the Dalai Lama would not visit again before the Chinese reopened the border, a concession that many Mongolians, devout or not, regarded as a violation of their sovereignty.

China last year created an online database of government-certified reincarnations to solidify its "undeniable endorsement right over the reincarnation system" before the Dalai Lama's death. The move to regulate reincarnations came after a Han Chinese actor declared himself a "living Buddha" and began collecting donations from Chinese attracted to Tibetan spirituality. 

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Thinking outside the Urn: China and the reincarnation of Mongolia's highest lama

Written by Jichang Lulu

March 21 (China Policy Institute: Analysis) The Chinese government's prerogative to manage the rebirths of incarnate lamas is being tested in Mongolia. One of the highest lineages covered by the Qing's 'Golden Urn' system at the basis of PRC reincarnation law is passing to its next holder, with the Dalai Lama's involvement. Despite clear signs that China cares, no public position has emerged so far. To determine what China's approach to the reincarnation issue might be, we have to go through some Mongolian history and a bit of leaf-reading. The very relevance of state management of rebirths to China's foreign relations indicates to what extent Qing imperial thought permeates PRC policy. Reincarnation diplomacy is real and has an impact on Chinese policies towards its closest neighbours.

On the last day of his ninth visit to Mongolia last November, the Dalai Lama announced that the tenth reincarnation of the Jebtsundamba རྗེ་བཙུན་དམ་པ་ Khutugtu, the highest Mongolian lama, had been found as to be a Mongolian boy. However, this boy would not be publicly enthroned because of his young age. China certainly objected to the Mongolia visit and responded to it with sanctions. As I have discussed in a recent piece, China only showed a will to normalise relations after the Mongolian government produced a 'non-apology' that regretted the "misunderstanding" and stated an assumption that the Dalai Lama would not visit again under during the current parliament. Although China's protests didn't mention the reincarnation issue, China's interest in it is revealed by its mention in the various Chinese and Mongolian versions of the Mongolian position. To quote from the most explicit ones: the public announcement of the new Jebtsundamba (and, in one version, his education) will be the responsibility of Mongolian monks, without "outside participation." The implication being that, as the process is a strictly religious matter, it falls beyond the government's purview. So far, that seems consistent with the plans of Mongolian clergy, who said in January the tenth reincarnation would be enthroned by Mongolian lamas, and that the process had not started yet.

The rebirth lottery

The first Jebtsundamba was the Mongolian polymath Zanabazar (1635-1723), the second son of the Tüsheet Khan Gombodorj, who ruled over one of the Mongolian polities of the time. His recognition as the reincarnation of a major Tibetan lama was likely intended to buttress the Tüsheet Khans' primacy among the Khalkha (eastern) Mongols and help them match the status of the other centres of Mongol power: the Dzungars in the west and the southern Mongols, already allied to the Manchus' emerging Qing dynasty. Zanabazar's later role the Khalkhas' submission to Kangxi, key to the Qing's eventual defeat of the Dzungars and conquest of much of Central Asia, made Mongolian nationalist historiography blame him for the subsequent centuries of Chinese rule. Chinese scholars praise him, for much the same reasons.

After an anti-Qing rebellion among the Khalkhas in which the second Jebtsundamba had an ambiguous role (his brother was executed for cooperating with its leader), emperor Qianlong ordered subsequent reincarnations to be born in Tibet, in what would later become part of the Golden Urn (金瓶) selection system, a Qing-managed 'reincarnation lottery' that gave imperial authorities control over the highest religious figures in Tibet and Mongolia. Qing-approved high lamas, who would recognise the emperor as a Buddhist ruler (cakravartin, 'turner of the wheel'), rather than locally-born leaders who could help catalyse challenges to imperial power, were key to Beijing's Central Asian policy.

For the next five reincarnations, the Urn lottery worked as expected, providing empire-friendly, purely religious figures who spent their short lives (only one lived into his thirties) as Tibetan-born foreigners in Mongolia.

Then the Empire lost at its own rigged raffle. Although also from Tibet, the Eighth Jebtsundamba adapted well to life among the Khalkha. He learnt the language, and his popularity and political savvy made him the centre of Outer Mongolian politics, culminating in his proclamation as theocratic ruler of independent Mongolia when the Qing fell in 1911. By the time he died in 1924, the Communists were in power and decreed the end of the lineage. Although there were attempts to install a Mongolian boy as ninth reincarnation, they couldn't get Tibetan approval and were eventually suppressed. The government later launched a brutal suppression of Buddhism that precluded any further efforts to revive the lineage.

Meanwhile, in Tibet, a boy born in 1933 was secretly identified as the 9th Jebtsundamba reincarnation. He left Tibet in 1959 and lived, mostly in poverty, in Nepal and India, until being announced as 9th Jebtsundamba by the Dalai Lama after the end of Communism in Mongolia in the early 1990s. He first visited Mongolia in 1999, among Chinese protests, and had to wait until 2010 to be allowed in again and made a Mongolian citizen. He died in Ulaanbaatar in 2012. The Mongolian public would likely only accept the next reincarnation to be born in Mongolia, and indeed that's where the Dalai Lama says he told the old 9th Jebtsundamba to go in his next life. That's why there was an expectation that the reincarnation would be announced during last November's visit.

Remarkably, Qianlong's Urn lottery is still running. The continuity of Qing-inherited control over reincarnations is central to the justification of the PRC's prerogative to appoint the most senior Tibetan Buddhist clergy. Current PRC reincarnation law explicitly refers to the Golden Urn system, as did its ROC precedent in 1936. Incarnate lamas continue to play a key role in Tibetan society, and government control over this hierarchy is meant to help legitimise Beijing's right to rule Tibetan Buddhists, precisely as devised by 18th-century emperors. The Urn system, embedded in Chinese law, sits at the top of this structure. The current Dalai Lama's assertions that it will be up to him to decide where to reincarnate next, if at all, were strongly attacked by Chinese officials, indeed on grounds of historical continuity centred on the Urn system. The PRC has used it exactly once, selecting its 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 after detaining the candidate approved by the Dalai Lama. Given how invested PRC discourse is in the legitimacy of the Urn system, an outside-the-Urn Jebtsundamba can be perceived as a challenge to imperial continuity, and a 'rehearsal' of a more serious one, the Dalai Lama's own succession outside China.

What does China think?

Despite the challenge to PRC religious policy implied by an outside-the-Urn reincarnation, China hasn't published any statements on the 10th Jebtsundamba, and the only public evidence of its concerns is its reflection in the Mongolian response.

To try and guess what Chinese officials think about the Jebtsundamba reincarnation, we can look for views on the previous lineage holder, recognised without Chinese consent. A 2009 article by Selengge ᠰᠡᠯᠡᠩᠭᠡ 斯林格, head of the Russia and Mongolia Research Institute at the Inner Mongolia Academy of Social Sciences, is sceptical about his legitimacy. The paper examines the "complex and sensitive problem" of the 9th Jebtsundamba reincarnation, highlighting the involvement of pro-Japanese Mongolians in his recognition process, and the role of the "Dalai clique" (, Party-speak for the Dharamsala-based Tibetan government in exile) in his 1999 Mongolia trip. Selengge's views, coming from a senior researcher who has been involved in exchanges with Russia and Mongolia, are significant, and consistent with the idea that Chinese authorities consider the Jebtsundamba lineage to have finished with the 8th reincarnation. Although, as I will discuss in an expanded version of this piece, the PRC actually allowed the 9th Jebtsundamba to lecture and perform rituals at his ancestral monastery, the Püntsokling ཕུན་ཚོགས་གླིང་ 彭措林 in Lhatse, Tibet, after his enthronement by the Dalai Lama, the very 'sensitivity' attached to that visit, which was hard to arrange, cut short, and omitted in official information about the monastery, shows that the PRC authorities were uncomfortable with the ninth reincarnation. If the ninth reincarnation was unacceptable to China, so should be the tenth.

A more explicit discussion of the Jebtsundamba issue, complete with policy recommendations, appeared in a 2011 article published by the China Energy Fund Committee (能源基金会, CEFC), a think tank with PLA links established by energy company CEFC (). The article calls the restoration of the Jebtsundamba lineage in Mongolia "a great victory and a breakthrough for the Dalai clique" that can sow discord in Tibetan Buddhism by challenging the reincarnation system "unified" by Qianlong's Golden Urn procedure. "The Indian government and the CIA" were involved. The Chinese government should foster religious exchanges with Russia and Mongolia, dispatching "virtuous and respected high monks" and using "social and economic methods" to compete with the Dalai clique. Finally, China should take the lead to coordinate the establishment of a "unified system for the search, recognition and final announcement" of incarnate lamas in the three countries, in order to restrict Dharamsala's influence. Though unofficial, such advice is consistent with China's current approach to Mongolian Buddhism, that involves cultivating ties to Dalai-unfriendly Mongolian monasteries and seemingly exploiting, as elsewhere, the Dorje Shugden controversy.

After such efforts didn't prevent the Dalai Lama's participation in, at least, the announcement of the new reincarnation, they might now be focused on trying to isolate him from Dharamsala, especially during his training years. Mongolia's response to Chinese protests does suggest China privately requested that no exile Tibetan lamas anoint or tutor the future Jebtsundamba. Precedent for 'tolerated' reincarnations, although none as senior as the Jebtsundamba, exists. Indeed, China didn't object to, for example, the Dalai Lama's 2004 recognition of the Jalkhanz རྒྱལ་ཁང་རྩེ Khutugtu, the latest representative of what is likely the oldest lineage of Khalkha Mongolian incarnate lamas. As Johan Elverskog, known for his work on the Mongols and the Qing, puts it, the PRC "recognise they don't need to control all the reincarnations, especially those outside the 1949 borders, and don't care about Nyingma or Sakya incarnations – or [Treasure Revealer (གཏེར་སྟོན་)] Steven Seagal."

At any rate, a Mongolian, but China-friendly, Jebtsundamba without Dharamsala ties is probably the most ambitious goal China can attain: trying to enforce the Golden Urn procedure would amount to imposing, or vetting, a religious leader on Mongolia, and the backlash could seriously hurt Chinese interests there. A subtler, longer-term approach, such as that which appears to be underway, can find allies within Mongolia's political and religious establishment, and still succeed at a degree of extraterritorial enforcement of the PRC's Qing-inherited religious policies. Such a senior outside-the-Urn reincarnation might be hard to accept for the would-be cakravartins (Buddhist rulers) at the 'relevant departments,' but it seems they'll have to live with it.

Jichang Lulu is an independent researcher and writes frequently on China's interests in the Arctic. Image Credit: CC by John Pannell/Flickr.  An extended version of this piece can be found here at the author's blog.

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Health & Education

Mongolia to cooperate with Singapore in medical sector

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) During her working visit to Singapore, Deputy Health Minister L.Byambasuren met with Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State, Ministry of Communication and Information and Ministry of Health of Singapore and exchanged views on bilateral relations and cooperation.

The meeting was attended by T.Lkhagvadorj, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Singapore and other officials. At the beginning of the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Mongolia expressed her gratitude for the development of bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries in the medical industry to a certain level. The Deputy Minister also highlighted the successful implementation of a project carried-out with Nanyang Polytechnic University of Singapore from 2011 to 2013 with funding of the Temasek Holdings.

"Within the project, some 100 nurses and were involved in training in Singapore, which was the most beneficial training ever" she emphasized. She then expressed her confidence that mutual projects to be implemented reciprocally to prepare social health workers will contribute greatly to the development of health industry of Mongolia as the Ministry of Health of Mongolia announced 2017 as a year of promoting social health.

During the meeting, the sides discussed about the challenges faced by the medical sectors of the two countries, measures to be taken to overcome them, as well as achievements in this field.

Moreover, they highlighted the similarities and differences of the two countries, such as a geographical location, population, territory and climate conditions, which are enabling the two countries to collaborate and learn from each other.

The meeting concluded with Deputy Health Minister L.Byambasuren expressing a satisfaction with the support and collaboration of the Singaporean side on the implementation of projects aimed at strengthening the capacity of medical workers of Mongolia.

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Western Region Diagnostic and Treatment Center to be renovated

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and some members of cabinet have gotten familiarized with the operations of the Center for Medical Diagnosis and Treatment in the Western Region, located in the center of Khovd aimag.

The Premier delivered the good news that the Government will be assisting in resolving the problems, such as the lack of required medical equipment. Extension for the diagnostic and treatment centre's building and renovation of medical equipment will be completed with funding of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Also, framework of renovating equipment will take place with financing by the Government of Belgium. However, the Government of Mongolia must settle the funds of USD 2.5 billion to secure the international financing. "It is possible to reflect this issue in the Budget Clarifications, to be passed by the parliament", said the Prime Minister.

The Diagnostic and Treatment Center for Western Region was commissioned in 1987, when Khovd aimag had slightly over 50 thousand population. Today, the aimag's population has exceeded 80 thousand people. In 2016, about 6,700 patients visited from Bayan-Ulgii, Gobi-Altai and Zavkhan aimags for diagnosis and treatment. 

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"Academic Forum-59" Medical Conference to take place on April 7

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) On April 7, "Academic Forum-59" medical conference will be organized with a view to introduce and present research works and advanced technology of medical science by professors and scholars of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. 

The forum aims to encourage best works that are able to be put into practice, develop medical science and learn from international experiences. Participants are expected to present their research works as well as touch upon occurrences of rare diseases and prevention, diagnosis and treatment of those diseases. Organizers of the event are confident that the conference will be competitive and fruitful as a large number of people have already submitted their works carried-out on an international level.

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Immediate Vacancies for IELTS Teachers in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Posted By: Santis Educational Services <mongolia@santis.mn>

March 22 (ESL Café) Santis Educational Services in Ulaanbaatar have immediate vacancies for IELTS teachers at their Schools in the heart of the City.

No better time than now to act, Mongolia is in need and waiting for you.

You will be a native English speaker, with an academic degree or suitable business experience or CELTA/TESOL qualification or similar, or even both. Your English speaking proficiency will be native to those countries who speak English as their first language. You will be capable of teaching international students of mixed ages to a high level of IELTS language proficiency. You will be enthusiastic, be open to learning new teaching techniques, be flexible and motivated. You may young or mature but not retired, with initiative to perform the task in hand in a professional manner. You will be of reasonable health. You will be a professional trainer, with leadership qualities. You will be able to start immediately, or very soon.

You will need to be available for at least 1 year without restriction. You will also have at least 18 months before the expiry of your current passport.

In summary suitable applicants will be: 

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Global Education Expo offers free consultancy

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) Edu-Line LLC is organizing its annual education fair 'Global Education Expo' for young people interested in studying abroad at Blue Sky Hotel for the 9th time this year.

This year's expo is offering free consultancy on studying and getting scholarships in 14 universities from countries like the US, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and newly this year Austria.

The 3-day event usually attracts over 1000 aspiring students who are looking for opportunities to acquire quality education overseas, according to D.Munkhtsetseg, a representative of Edu-Line company who also believes that more and more young Mongolians study abroad these days.

Her assessment was confirmed with the number of people arriving to the expo shortly after its opening. "I want to study abroad, especially in the US or the Philippines", says E.Otgonjargal, 17, who studies at the No.2 secondary school. "Proficiency in English language is a minimum standard for an educated young person in this era, and that's why I want to earn a degree in English language". The young man also added that he aspires to be an influential person in the future.

Black Hills State University, a public university from South Dakota, the US is participating for the first time in the fair, and Katherine L.Wildman, Director of International Relations & Global Engagement Department traveled to Mongolia to represent the university which has a memorandum of understanding with Global Leadership University of Mongolia.

"We are delighted to be here not only to strengthen our ties with the Global Leadership University, but also to recruit students seeking opportunities to study in the US", she said. "We've had a Mongolian student at our university who had a wonderful experience and also suggested that we come here", she added.

"He was a wonderful champion in lots of things; most students in campus would know him. He was very friendly and hospitable. He participated in a number of our programs including our Intensive English program and was a wonderful asset to have on campus", she described the Mongolian student who has just acquired a Bachelor's Degree in business.

Katherine said that she was seeing tons of students interested in studying in the US and especially the Black Hills State University as the university's specialization in business and Mongolians' keenness to study business concur.

The expo will close on March 26

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Culture & Society

Kazakhs' Nauryz holiday celebrated

March 23 (MONTSAME) Three occasions coincide on March 22 for Mongolians such as World Water Day, First Space Flight Anniversary and Kazakhs' Nauryz (Nowruz) holiday.

With Nauryz being an international holiday, Mongolian Kazakhs living in western parts of the country have grand celebration of the traditional holiday which symbolizes goodness and wealth, happiness and love and friendship. Nauryz means a 'new day', and it represents New Year to the Kazakhs.

According to a demographic report issued by the National Statistical Office on the Kazakh minority in Mongolia, there are 114,506 Kazakhs, constituting 3.9 percent of Mongolia's population and mostly living in Bayan-Ulgii, Khovd, Selenge and Tuv provinces and Ulaanbaatar city.

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True and False facts about Kazakh people

March 22 (gogo.mn) Kazakh is one of the ethnic groups inhabiting Western part of Mongolia, the Bayan-Olgii aimag. Kazakh people have different language, culture, religion and even appearance. Approximately 150 thousand Kazakhs are residing in Mongolia today. 

True or false rumors related to Kazakh people are common among the public, making them doubt. Therefore we at GoGo Mongolia aimed to deliver the facts about Kazakh people. 

In addition Nawryz (Nowruz), a traditional holiday of Kazakh people is celebrated on Mar 22 when the length of the day and night are almost equal. Happy Nawryz!

BAYAN-OLGII AIMAG IS AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY

FALSE. People argue about Bayan-Olgii aimag will be part of Kazakhstan. Bayan-Olgii is an integral part of the Mongolian territory. Even Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan can not seperate Bayan-Olgii aimag from Mongolia. Also Kazakh people living in Bayan-Olgii aimag never talk about being independent. 

"OUR PRESIDENT IS NAZARBAYEV"

FALSE. Social media rumors that Bayan-Olgii children will answer the question "Who is the president of Mongolia?" as N.Nazarbayev, and the question "What is the capital city of Mongolia?" as Astana. It is completely false rumor as power and internet is well developed in Bayan-Olgii, people are exposed to new information and news about Mongolia in due time. Thus every Kazakh youth and child knows that the president of Mongolia is Ts.Elbegdorj. 

BAYAN-OLGII IS JUST LIKE A FOREIGN COUNTRY 

FALSE. People say that residents of Bayan-Olgii aimag do not speak Mongolian which makes us feel like traveling in a foreign country. Even Bayan-Olgii has only one Mongolian language secondary school, other secondary schools teach Mongolian language at third grade. Every Kazakhs living in Bayan-Olgii can speak Mongolian free. 

KAZAKHS WILL LEAVE MONGOLIA TO KAZAKHSTAN 

FALSE. In the beginning of 90sthe president of Kazakhstan appealed Kazakhs living in every corner of the world to come to Kazakhstan. As a result, many Kazakh families of Bayan-Olgii moved to Kazakhstan. Remained elders say "Nazarbayev can not gather all Kazakhs. We will never leave Mongolia. My four generations of ancestors were buried in this land".

All Kazakhs living in Mongolia were born in Mongolia. They consider that they have mother and child connection between them and Mongolia. 

KAZAKH PRACTICE ISLAM 

FALSE. Islam is not a religion. Word "islam" translates as infidel in Tibetan language. Kazakhs practice the Islamic religion. People who practice Islam are called Muslims.

KAZAKHS DO NOT EAT PORK 

TRUE. Muslims do not eat pork and people who violate this rule is considered to commit a great sin. Because pigs are very dirty animals as they eat everything even their dropping and offspring. 

KAZAKH WOMEN DO NOT MARRY MONGOLIAN MEN

TRUE. The reason why Kazakh women do not marry Mongolian men is difference in religions. Kazakh women should not marry man who practice a different religion. However they can marry a man of different religion only if he agrees to take Muslim. Therefore there is no rule prohibiting Kazakh women to marry with Mongolian men. 

KAZAKHS ONLY SPEAK KAZAKH WITH EACH OTHER 

TRUE. Have you ever seen that the Buryats or Bayads speak in English or Russian to communicate with each other? Similarly Kazakhs speak Kazakh. However official documents should be written or spoken in Mongolian language as the official language practiced in Mongolian territory is Mongolian.

KAZAKH CIRCUMCISE BOYS 

TRUE. Muslims must circumcise boys. Circumcision is an important ritual aimed at improving cleanliness and is considered to prevent men from sexually transmitted diseases and various inflammatory diseases.

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Ornaments and accessories of a Dariganga wife

March 21 (MONTSAME) Belongings and accessories of a married Dariganga woman made by the Dariganga ethnical subgroup of Mongolia are kept at the Ethnographic Museum of Sukhbaatar province.

The set is one of the distinguished pieces of the museum, which has over 2500 showpieces, and is made of a cap, deel, uuj, head ornaments, accessories and boot used by Dariganga wives. The peaked top of the cap symbolizes a mountain, and the circling 32 tacks represent the ethnicities in Mongolia. The red tassels symbolize sun rays. The cap maintained by the museum was owned by Ichinkhorloo, resident of Dariganga soum. The slim, circle-shaped head ornament is decorated with elegant gold and silver patterns embedded with coral stone. Dariganga head ornament is made of three parts – forehead, sanchig (temples) and sagaldarga and earring.

A silver-chained net is inserted in the fore part of the head ornament, and beads are hanged from its edge. A patterned silver plate is embedded with coral stone to look precious. The coral and bead danglers below chin are called sagaldarga. The sleeves of wives' deel are multi-colored, attached to the main body, have nudarga(sort of traditional cuff), high collar and single hem. The long garment worn on top of deel is called uuj. The uuj has equal length with deel, no sleeves, with straight placket and front and back vents on waist. The uuj is made by a different fabric than the deel, and its collar and placket are hemmed with wide brocade. The deel kept at the museum is made of silk and sewn by hands.

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This day marks 36th anniversary of Mongolia's space travel

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) On this day 36 years ago, a Mongolian flew into space. Jugderdemidiin Gurragchaa along with the Soviet cosmonaut V.A.Janibekov took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 14.58 of March 22, 1981.

In eight days of space travel, the two have circled the earth for 124 times and landed back on their home planet on March 30.

Thus, Mongolia became the 10th country in the world to send off a cosmonaut to space, 5th country to test its technology in space and 20th to create space equipment, which was tested in space.

Mongolia's first and only space traveler J.Gurragchaa was born on December 5 of 1947 in Gurvanbulag soum of Bulgan aimag. After graduating from a local high school, Gurragchaa went to serve in the army in 1966. In 1971, he studied in the aviation academy of the former Frunze of USSR, modern-day Bishkek, the capital city of the Kyrgyz Republic.

J.Gurragchaa graduated in 1973 from Jukov's Air Force Academy in Moscow.

From 1978, he had begun training as cosmonaut along with his Mongolian colleague M.Ganzorig at the Space Training Centre named after Yurii Gagarin. At the time, he was a Captain in the Mongolian People's Army.

Between 2000 and 2004, he was the Minister of Defense and a member of the cabinet headed by Nambaryn Enkhbayar. In 2004, he was elected to the State Great Khural (Parliament). He was not re-elected. 

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Mongolia races to preserve two-humped camels

March 19 (Al Jazeera) The two-humped Bactrian camel helped people settle and adapt to life in the Gobi desert of Mongolia, but their numbers have rapidly decreased in the last few decades.

The Gobi desert is also home to the only surviving species of wild camel in the world.

Conservationists say preventing crossbreeding with domestic Bactrian camels is critical for preserving both species.

Al Jazeera's Pearly Jacob reports from Gobi-Altai in southwest Mongolia.

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Reindeer herders don't need the government to protect their land

March 24 (UB Post) The Dukha people of northern Mongolia represent the most southern reindeer herders of Siberia. They are the only reindeer herders in Mongolia and live in the northern forests and mountains with their reindeers, moving all year round. The Dukha people originally came from Tuva in early 1940s and became citizens of Mongolia.

Today they are in a transition period, still trying to maintain their traditional way of life while their children go to schools in cities and adapt to the urban way of life. Most Dukha families own 10 to 40 reindeers.

Despite relying on the reindeers for a living, the Dukha do not slaughter their reindeers unless a reindeer is too old or in times of food shortage and difficult natural conditions. They use reindeers mainly for transport and for their milk because horses cannot survive in the taiga in winter. That is why the reindeers of the Dukha are very precious to the people and rarely slaughtered for food.

The Dukha believe that their ancestors domesticated reindeers hundreds of years ago but the current Dukha are not able to domesticate reindeers from the wild anymore and rely heavily on domesticated breeds. The Dukha have established a relation with their reindeers that supports partnership instead of ownership and they look after their reindeers as if taking care of children.

If they lose their reindeers, they cannot stay in the taiga because it is the only animal that can walk on deep snow and find food buried beneath it. The Dukha are traditionally hunters. They hunt wild animals such as muse, wild boar, bear, wild reindeer, deer, and rabbit from the nature and collect wild potatoes or berries in spring. In the cold places they live in, there are hardly any plants that grow in the area, meaning that they rely heavily on hunting for food.

Recently, the area they inhabit, northern territories of Khuvsgul Province including Shishged and Tengis River regions, has been declared a special protected zone, which means that hunting has been banned since 2013. They also have limitations on where they can migrate to. They are not allowed to go to the faraway camps they used to inhabit.

Today, the Dukha make living by selling souvenirs to tourists and receive some help from the government as hunting has been banned in the region. They purchase meat from sheep and goat herders near them and buy necessities such as flour and rice with the money they receive from the local government through benefits.

Most people think that hunting is just a way of finding food, however for indigenous people like the Dukha, it is much more. It is their way of life and the central characteristic of their culture.

First of all, the Dukha live in a harsh geographic condition and they need to migrate far away from their camps to reach their reindeers, which can take many hours or days. Hence they cannot just go to the market to buy meat when they need it. It is not realistic or practical for them.

Secondly, hunting is an old tradition that is directly related with many of their practices and ancestral roots. The Dukha practice animistic and shamanistic rituals. They believe that all animals and nature have spirits so they respect all living organisms. Dukha men pray to the nature before going on hunting trips and they apologize to the soul of the animal after hunting and killing an animal. They never hunt more than their necessities and consumption, and always share their game meat among all families.

Because they are hunters, they know that their own survival is directly related with the survival of animals. This makes them dependent on wild animals and very careful about protecting animals and nature. That is why the Dukha do not need laws to protect their homeland; they already have ancient rules to protect the animals and nature. For example, they do not hunt young or pregnant animals, do not cut trees and do not put a dirty thing into a river.

They try to shoot mostly male animals so that females can give birth and continue the species. When they are hunting a bear, they do not even shoot the bear from behind. They respect the bear so much that they shout at the animal first and then shoot it.

We live in a world in which technology is developing fast, while global warming and environmental degradation puts our planet at risk. People are consuming so much that the natural balance of the world is dramatically changing – natural disasters are becoming more common, and as a consequence, it presents a danger to people.

Thus, the few remaining traditional nomadic people like the Dukha are very precious as they teach us the core values of humanity. Their lifestyle and practices are extremely valuable to all of us.

Although nomadic tribes are few in the world, reindeer herding is an even rarer way of life. There are approximately 15 reindeer herding communities in the world and it makes Mongolia all the more special for having an important cultural heritage of the world.

The Dukha do not see themselves as the owners of the universe, they are just a part of it. People relate to their environment through the land spirits and serve as mediators between all living things to maintain justice and harmony.

Today the traditional Dukha way of life has been put at a risk because of the government's decision, and their old traditional values and modern legacy are suffering. An old Dukha man said that the hunting ban makes him feel like a prisoner in his home land.

To help the Dukha maintain their lifestyle, the government of Mongolia could issues a hunting quota and some special rules can be applied to them. Commercial hunting is very harmful for the environment but the Dukha do not hunt for money. They can protect animals and their land from those who seek to exploit them. For example, in Canada, commercial whale hunting is forbidden but the Inuit people are allowed to hunt whales under a strict quota because it is an important tradition for them. Like this, they can maintain an important way of life.

The government can also find similar solutions for the Dukha and keep this culture, which is a world heritage, while protecting the nature. The Dukha people already take care of their nature and animals because it is an important part of their culture. They just need the government to understand this and cooperate with them to sustain their way of life and protect the environment at the same time.

Turkish anthropological research Seljen Kuchukustel studying for PhD in Central Asian studies at Humboldt University in Germany pointed out that helping maintain the traditional way of the Dukhas and promoting their nomadic form are of significant importance to keeping their local environment safe and healthy.

She said that when she stayed with the Dukha for 10 months during her research, she felt that the Dukha are the best protectors of their environment as the forests, animals, and plants living with them are vital for their life.

Kuchukustel added that the Dukha protect their local areas from bushmeat hunters who cause severe environmental damage to protected areas. The government, especially the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, is hoping to develop tourism in Mongolia.

Most tourists visiting Mongolia are interested in the Dukha culture and traditional way of life. In recent years, a large portion of the tourists visiting Mongolia spent time in the tents of the Dukha, tried to ride their reindeers, drank reindeer milk, and stayed with them for a while to observe their way of lives.

Mongolia's nomadic culture and lifestyle are a great attraction for tourists, and reindeer herders are also a piece of our culture. We do not need to spend more money developing an attraction based around the Dukha people; just promoting their precious culture to foreign tourists through policy and support is enough to bring tourists to Mongolia.

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Museum to be established near Tonyukuk statue

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) On March  22, D.Oyunkhorol, Minister of Environment and Tourism received Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) representative in Ulaanbaatar Veysel Çiftçi. At the meeting, the two sides discussed a number of issues, such as elimination of air and soil pollution, training Mongolian media specialists in Turkey and development of tourism infrastructure.

They also exchanged views on such matters as co-implementing projects of tourism near the area the monument of Tonyukuk located in Erdene soum of Tuv aimag or projects to protect forests from insect pests and improve management of special-purpose hunting areas of wild sheep, wild goat and red deer, empower sides in charge of management and making the areas model hunting areas.

The TIKA has carried-out archeological excavation near the monument of Tonyukuk and taken the area under protection. The resident representative of TIKA in Ulaanbaatar said that the Turkish side is planning to build a museum in the area and requested the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia to provide support on solving some difficult issues in this regard.    

Over the last two decades, TIKA has implemented a myriad of activities, such as introducing Turkish experiences to Mongolia, protecting monuments erected in Mongolia, which date back to the Turkic era and excavating and performing research, building a museum in Khushuu Tsaidam, Arkhangai, building an auto road, supporting reindeer herders and building capacity regarding the education, health, water hygiene sectors.

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Dating the Petroglyphs of the Mongolian Altai

The history of man and climate, written into the bedrock of Mongolia.

March 23 (Pacific Standard Magazine) The geologist crouches before the surface of a boulder, his finger hovering over an image of two ibex butting heads. "Where the horns converge, there is a beautiful symmetry to them," he says. He indicates the half-circle curl of the horns; the wild goats' legs are straight thin lines. Petroglyphs like this one have been here for many thousands of years, since Stone Age people first began gouging the rock. In the light of a Mongolian summer, the images seem to be suspended in air.

The glacial geologist, Aaron Putnam of the University of Maine, runs his hands along the greywacke sandstone, a common bedrock in this part of the Altai Mountains, on the shared border of Russia and China. With the rock's original dark polish chipped away, the fresh stone makes a pointed contrast, helping the petroglyphs to stand outa sort of picture frame.

The petroglyphs are difficult to date precisely. Over the past 15 years, Richard Kortum, a professor of philosophy and humanities from East Tennessee State University, has catalogued roughly 12,000 petroglyphs here, in Mongolia's Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. He's been determining their approximate age by correlating cultural clues with records of archaeology and paleoecology. "It's like piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle," Kortum says.

The oldest images are jagged and include deer and stick-figure humans. There are also petroglyphs of bulls and yaks, but these have clean edges and are more anatomically correct. Kortum says they are likely from the Neolithic period. The majority of the rock art comes from the Bronze and Iron Ages: clear and precise images of chariots, and animals with beautifully curled antlers that come to a sharp edge.

Putnam's here to study climate change and to develop a chronology of glacial retreat, taking samples from granite boulders that were once suspended in ice. Analyzing the petroglyphs is important for understanding the culture and movement of ancient people, but, when joined with a geologic examination, it can tell us a lot about the history of climate. Images of horses and camels, for example, indicate the domestication of animals and suggest an abundance of grassland in the areawhich scientists can confirm by analyzing pollen that's enclosed in sediment.

Back in Maine, Putnam will measure the accumulated cosmogenic radiation on the surface of granite boulders scattered in this area. These data points tell the story of a process that began the moment the rocks were first dropped out of glaciers and onto the landscape. From this information, Putnam can derive a date for the end of the Ice Age, which is his primary interest: A clear chronology of glacial recession can help us improve scientific models that predict how anthropogenic climate change will affect future societies. The dates also approximate when the first people could have lived here, but Putnam thinks there's another technique to determine when the rock art was actually made.

He points to long white lines etched by massive chunks of glacial ice that existed here during the Ice Age, roughly 20,000 years ago. Back when the glaciers receded, the ice carved wide valleys in the hills, and these became pathways for the first people to enter the highlands. They took up sharp stones and pecked the smooth rind of glacially polished rocksnot knowing that, eventually, every detail would be scrutinized.

When it rains, a black mineral accumulates on the rocksmanganese oxide, sometimes called desert varnish. It builds up in layers, and Putnam thinks he can analyze them, like tree rings, to get an approximate date for when the images were actually madenot just when people could have first come. Kortum is not certain it will succeed, but he has said it would be "a revolutionary result"a climatological revelation accidentally inscribed in the art of Mongolia's earliest peoples.

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Original statue of D.Sukhbaatar now located in Delger Monastery in Dundgobi aimag

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) The original statue of General D.Sukhbaatar which stood at the central square of Ulaanbaatar city over 70 years, is now located in Delger's choir monastery in a Delgertsogt soum of Dundgobi aimag.  The monument was removed from the square three years ago by a decision of the Citizens Representative Meeting of the capital to re-erect it with bronze.

The removed statue had been kept in a yard of one company waiting to be crumbled and Khamba Lama of the Delger's choir monastery Luvsandarjaa Rinnpoche asked to have it. Since then the statue had been stored at the monastery. 

"- Any statue or monument possesses historical and cultural values as people dedicate their heart, mind and skills to making it. General Sukhbaatar was a historical figure, who brought peace to the people of Mongolia. Therefore, I wanted to safeguard the statue" said the Khamba Lama once.

Luvsandarjaa Rinpoche is planning to open a new monastery building with unique architecture during the 150th anniversary of famous enlightener Zava Damdin Rinpoche.

The original statue of D.Sukhbaatar on his horse was created in 1946 with granite by the sculptor Sonomyn Choimbol and was inaugurated on the 25th anniversary of Mongolian People's Revolution. Original 14 sculptures of lions, which are used to be placed surrounding the statue, are also now with the original statue at the monastery.

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UC Berkeley Event, April 3: "Mongolian Archaeology: New Discoveries, New Concerns"

Conference/Symposium | April 3 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

SponsorsInstitute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative, Smithsonian Institution, Archaeological Research Facility

The ancient cultural interactions of Northeast Asia have left a now-imperiled record in stone across the steppes and forests of Mongolia. The historical implications of the archaeological record, and the race not only to study but to preserve this record in the face of growing threats from development, tourist access, and an insatiable art market, are the focus of this symposium, organized jointly with the Smithsonian Institution.

Participants include:

Jeffrey ALTSCHUL, Statistical Research, Inc.
John Vincent BELLEZZA, University of Virginia
Richard CIOLEK-TORELLO, Statistical Research, Inc.
Julia Kate CLARK, Northern Mongolia Archaeology Project
D. ERDENEBAATAR, Ulaanbaatar City College
William FITZHUGH, Smithsonian Institution
William HONEYCHURCH, Yale University
Esther JACOBSON-TEPFER, University of Oregon
Richard Dennis KORTUM, East Tennessee State University
Daniel ROGERS, Smithsonian Institution
Joan SCHNEIDER, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
William TAYLOR, Max Planck Institute
Joshua WRIGHT, University of Aberdeen

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Evil Elsa and the Forgotten Gloves

by Khishigjargal Enkhbayar, UN Youth Advisory Panel in Mongolia

March 22 (Voices of Youth) I forgot my gloves again. It's too late to go back home because the well is closing in a few minutes and I need to hurry. The weather report that my grandmother was watching before I left said that it was -28 degrees Celsius in Sharhad area of Ulaanbaatar, the place where I live. Even without the weather report I can tell that it's close to -30 degrees from the way the wind slashes my face again and again.

My throat aches from the cold and polluted air. I try to make smoke from my mouth just like the men smoking cigarettes in the movies, but it's blurred from all the smog. Everyone in the "ger districts" uses coal or wood to fire their homes. The smog from the coal makes my eyes water and throat dry. I remember how some kids at school were wearing masks. I would love some but they're too expensive to keep using throughout the winter. It's best to go to the well quickly and come back.

I take my empty buckets and rush down through the narrow dark alleys. Even though it's only 6pm, it's pitch black. There are no street lamps here. It's not safe for twelve year old girls like me to go through here. But since my mother is currently working, my grandmother bedridden, and my little brother is not old enough to lift heavy objects, it's up to me to save the day.

With renewed courage in these dark alleys I quicken my pace. Ow! My buckets fall to the ground with a loud clang as I slip on ice! I hadn't seen that in the darkness. I slowly get up and pick up my buckets. I feel a slight burn in my right hand but everything else seems okay.

I envy the girls whose families have their own private well in their garden. They don't have to go so far out in the dark and in the cold to get water. I have seen them sell their water as well. Mother says many privately owned wells have not been tested for safety. I heard on the news that from the 5331 deep and shallow water wells in Ulaanbaatar, almost half of them do not have permits. Apparently this is a big safety hazard, because children and adults could get sick drinking from those wells.

I get a lot of information from watching the news with my grandma. I would much rather watch cartoons, but grandma prefers to watch the news and her wishes must be respected above all. Someday I will have a warm house with indoor heating and plumbing and my very own TV and computer! I can watch anything I want. Mother says I will have to study well to get into a good university and get a good job. Oh how I wish to have a bed and a room of my own! Right now my mother, little brother and I sleep in one bed. Sometimes I even sleep on the floor. Sometimes when we don't have heating I find that my bed sheets have frozen to the wall. My mother works hard to provide a warm house for us, that's why I have to do my part in doing anything I can.

As I turn onto the 5th narrow street I see a small brick structure with a single window and a single lamp. People have already lined up. There are ten people in front me. I hope I can make it to the end of the line before the operator of the well decides to close. As I stand in line I shiver. I shall have to make some hot tea with the water when I get back home.

I finally come to the small window that issues the water. Placing my metal buckets on the ground, I try not to slip on the vast amount of ice that covers that area. Because the operator cannot see the buckets from inside the little brick house, a lot of water is spilled on the ground, creating layers of ice. Looking at the ice, I am reminded of princess Elsa and her ice kingdom from the movie "Frozen". The well operator lady is like Elsa living in her brick castle and surrounded by ice. Only the operator is bigger and scarier.

I give the operator my money and take the hose, which is on a hook. The hose is frozen and burn my bare hands. I cringe at the numbing cold and swear I will take my gloves with me next time. If only our teacher had let us go earlier, instead of making us clean the classroom.

As I am waiting for my ten liter buckets to fill up I read the notice on the brick house. I can barely make out the letters on the worn paper in the dim light. It asks citizens to use safe water buckets and containers. Most of the buckets and containers we use are cheap and the smell of chemicals stay for years. I could even taste the plastic from our water container. Unfortunately the safer containers cost as much as my mother's monthly salary. We simply cannot afford it, so we keep on using the plastic funny-smelling containers.

With the water filled, I tell the operator to stop the water, but she didn't hear and the water spilled all over my hands and onto the ground. The operator then yelled at me that I should have told her to stop sooner. Evil Elsa is at it again. I apologize to keep her from yelling further.

I pick up my water buckets with my wet hands and proceed down the icy roads back home. My hands are soon numb from the cold air and the weight of the buckets. I have to make at least five stops on the way home because of the heavy buckets. My friends and I used to compete with each other over who would have the least stops on the way home. I wish the wheels of our water cart were not broken. Then I wouldn't have to suffer as much.

Twice I almost spilled my water. The first time when I slipped on ice and the second time when a stray dog suddenly jumped out and started barking at me. I pray for summer to come sooner.

I finally make it back home. My grandmother and little brother welcome me with open arms. They are always worried about me when I go to the well in the evening. I transfer the water from the bucket to the container and warm my completely numb hands near the fire. I apologize to my hands and gently kiss them. Never again shall I forget my gloves, I say to myself.

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Ross Kemp Extreme World – Mongolia

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Nature & Environment

On the scapegoating of goat herders for urban air pollution and economic crisis

By Marissa J. Smith and Andrei Marin

March 22 (UB Post) In the United States, "goat herder" is a stock phrase of sorts denoting the poorest, most marginalized people on the planet. Goats and goat herders are very often blamed unfairly for pastureland degradation in many parts of Africa and Asia, where herders in these areas often refer to goats as "poor man's cattle". So goats do hold a central place both in pastoral systems' functioning and in our stereotypes about them. As Mongolia's economic situation remained dire this winter, we have been dismayed to see Mongolia's poorer and more marginalized people positioned increasingly as scapegoats. In conversations about air pollution and economic reform, accusations against herders and people connected with the Mongolian countryside have stepped up.

When the ban on new registrations in Ulaanbaatar was announced in January, we were surprised (and again dismayed) to hear and read support for the measure (thankfully not in The UB Post, however, but pieces printed here are discussed below). Much of this was in line with stories about rural to urban migration that have been carried by Western English-language media such as The Guardian, which forward the story that herders are migrating in order to access new economic opportunities, in some connection with having lost their animals. We know from numerous studies of people who migrate from rural to urban areas that this decision is based on a complex mesh of push – and pull – factors that vary greatly with age, gender, or economy. In our studies of Mongolian herders during the past ten years, the motives for migrating to "the City" are equally complex as they are fluctuating.

Nevertheless, media accounts simplify these stories and propose, in turn, a simple story; one in which herders are openly accused of mismanaging their animals and coming to the capital for "handouts". In this simplified story, there are too many animals for the pastureland available, therefore, herders do not manage to save their weak herds during dzuds and droughts and will increasingly be bound to do so as they are overgrazing and destroying the rangelands that "belong to the nation". This narrative has been used for portraying pastoralists for centuries. The Tunisian historian Ibn Khaldūn mentioned it about the Berbers in the 14th century. In Mongolia, this narrative ignores the fact that the available scientific evidence about pasture degradation is based on data that cannot separate the effects of grazing from those of climate on these ecosystems, and the fact that even these data show just as much improvement or no change as they do deterioration. What these stories also do not discuss is the how the poor quality of basic infrastructure in the countryside, particularly schooling, healthcare, and veterinary services act as push-factors for the herders. These are, of course, the very valuables that an Ulaanbaatar-based registration is required to access. The recent measure to stop access of new rural migrants to these services may stop some, but will likely not end the trend. Migrants will continue to stay in the city and work, most likely in badly substandard housing and labor conditions, often to the benefit of other urbanites. If we look at the demography of UB, the official numbers (National Statistical Office 2015) show an increase in resident population of nine percent between 2012-2015, which might be considered high but definitely not unique (during 2002-2005 the corresponding increase was 14 percent). So, one obvious question is why has the rhetoric against herders in UB increased recently? Winter has, of course, brought the return of some of the world's worst air pollution, but the deepening economic crisis faced by all Mongolians is also in play.

With the bust of the mining economy, Mongolia has been looking to increase exports of meat and other livestock products. As issues with the quantity of demand for these products in other countries and international and national regulatory frameworks over which Mongolians have little control are little discussed, blame is again often cast upon herders and others in the countryside. If there are so many animals, why is the nation not benefiting? Logics include that Mongolian meat is not good enough because herders use too much, not enough, or the wrong medications (see this piece published by The UB Post in January). Like the stories about migration to Ulaanbaatar, these again downplay the lack and loss of infrastructure – veterinary services, means of transport.

While conducting field research in the Mongolian countryside, Ulaanbaatar, and Erdenet this past summer, one of the coauthors, Marissa Smith, heard assertions by urban-based Mongolians that herders should be taxed, even while she encountered and spent time with the most impoverished herders she has ever met over a decade of working in Mongolia. With the announcement of the recent IMF package, a key type of anxiety that has emerged has been the introduction of graduated income taxes in Mongolia. Most lately, The UB Post printed a piece bemoaning that herders are being exempted from such measures and the recipients of disproportionate benefits from the state, while castigating pastoral production "industry" as "the least economically productive". This piece again misses that herders, even the wealthiest herders, do not enjoy access to much of the infrastructure that many residents of Ulaanbaatar do, and pastoral production is not the product of herders' efforts alone, including infrastructures that urban residents find it difficult to imagine and take into account. As the Mongolian state has retreated from involvement in pastoral governance, herders also have been the target of numerous reforms of questionable benefit for herders spearheaded by international financial institutions and development agencies.

All these recent developments can also be seen in a context of changing cultural markers and identity. As Mongolians in UB are increasingly signaling their modernity, the newly arrived herder is increasingly seen as a "traditional" misfit. Surely the long-standing rhetoric of "nomads" and "nomadic culture" and its essentialist reduction of modern-day rural residents (many with bank accounts, mobile phones, and Facebook accounts) to timeless postcard-versions of themselves is showing its effects.

The problems faced by urban residents and workers are indeed serious. However, before casting blame on an "other", we urge us all to consider shared challenges and solutions. We may find out that the troubles of urban residents are intimately bound to the reasons why some herders are sometimes forced to migrate to the city. The solution then may be a broader gaze at the reasons why herders leave their homelands, and a "country project" for reforming the social and economic realities in the countryside. We suggest that we review and support continued research and inclusive work on these very complicated social issues.

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Joint environmental research to be launched with Nagoya University

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) On March 20, the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia and Nagoya University of Japan signed a memorandum on launching joint research. The memorandum was signed by State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Ts.Tsengel and Vice President of Nagoya University Katsuya Ichihashi.

State Secretary Ts.Tsengel remarked "It is a pleasure that a new opportunity has been made available for Mongolian specialists in the environmental field to be trained at the Nagoya University, which has a history of 140 years. Learning from Japanese culture and creative and diligent mindset of the Japanese people, the joint research will certainly contribute to the development of Mongolia".

Katsuya Ichihashi, Vice President of Nagoya University signified the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Japan and noted "Our university has collaborated with Mongolian universities numerous times in the past. The establishment of a field research center with Mongolian the National University of Science and Technology in 2009 is a fine example. By signing this memorandum with the Ministry of Environment of Mongolia, the friendly relations of the two countries will definitely expand further".

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International Day of Forests marked

Ulaanbaatar, March 21 (MONTSAME) March 21, International Day of Forests is being observed throughout the world under the theme "Forests and energy". The Day, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. The Second National Forum with theme 'Forest policy of Mongolia, science and technology" was held at Tuushin Hotel. Some 240 delegates from government organizations, universities, institutes, NGOs and private sector attended the forum.

About 50 percent of global wood production or around 1.86 billion cubic meters of wood are used as energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation, while in Mongolia, 80 per cent of wood production or 547.2 thousand cubic meters of wood is used for this purpose. The National Forest Census in 2016 revealed that forest of Mongolia has become old-growth forest with low density and their regeneration capacity is insufficient.

The attendants of the forum noted the importance of renewing forest resources with trees, which are adaptable to climate change and highly efficient, ensuring realization of State policy on forests.

" - Using trees for fuel means burning national wealth into ashes. Therefore, we are discussing how to make trees more valuable instead of using a huge amount of trees just for fuel and how to support local people with forest income. The state policy on forests is based on sustainable forest management, which is accepted internationally. As Mongolia has a vast territory and small population, we are realizing this management using a model of collaborative involvement. A total of 1281 forest cooperatives, over 40 forest units and some 800 professional institutions are operating within the framework" said M.Tungalag, Director of the Department of Forest Policy and Coordination of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

During the forum, the best scientific works by students of forest science and forest engineering were announced and an exhibition was held to introduce the activities in the forest sector conducted by international projects, programs and private companies. 

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Wastewater and Water Reserves forum kicks off

March 26 (UB Post) The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism (MNET) organized the Wastewater and Water Reserves forum on March 22 as part of Mongolia's engagement in World Water Day.

The event was joined by representatives from the Ministry, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mining Infrastructure Investment Support Project for Mongolia, World Wildlife Fund, Joint Commission International, and Mongolian Environmental Civil Council.

Minister of Nature, Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol gave an opening speech highlighting the importance of World Water Day.

"In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated March 22 as World Water Day. On this day, Mongolia organizes measures to promote the proper use of water, the significance of water, and ways to conserve water, as well as encourage private and public sectors to actively participate in these measures. We're holding Wastewater and Water Reserves forum under this year's theme – wastewater," she said.

Minister D.Oyunkhorol thanked everyone who attended the forum and contributed in efforts to exploit wastewater and resolve related problems. She resumed her speech saying, "Wastewater is considered a lost opportunity and experts worldwide are seeking solutions for water scarcity. A total of 5.5 billion cubic meters of wastewater is discharged across the world every year, whereas in Mongolia, we use up to 600 million cubic meters of water and 470 million cubic meters are turned to wastewater. We must protect this valuable resource and conserve it by increasing water recycling and safe reuse."

Melting of polar ice caps and glaciers attributed to climate change and global warming is causing significant reduction in water resources. Experts noted that Ulaanbaatar and other large cities in desert climate are facing mild water shortage problems due to sudden increase in water consumption related to urbanization and industrialization. There's a requirement for Mongolia to increase its water resources through the conservation of flood water so that it can meet drinking water demands in the future using surface water, according to experts.

Water specialist of the Ministry L.Erdenebulgan warned that Mongolia will have to deal with serious water shortage by 2021 if wasteful water consumption continues. She recommended promoting the conservative use of water among the public, increase water recycling and reuse, and building a standard wastewater treatment facility to tackle water problems.

Six domestic wastewater treatment facilities and an industrial wastewater treatment plant operate in Ulaanbaatar. Reportedly, the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant receives 190,000 to 210,000 cubic meters of wastewater a day and discharge it into Tuul River after biological and mechanical treatments, and ultraviolet disinfection treatment. Due to the workload at the plant, wastewater level and water contamination has increased in recent years along with sludge processing problems. Addressing the urgent issue, Head of Engineering Policy Department of the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority N.Odkhuu advised building a new treatment facility during his speech at the forum.

During the forum, the MNET presented certificates of appreciation to five companies which promote water conservation, namely MCS Coca Cola LLC, Loro Piana Mongolia LLC, NST LLC, the National Center for Mental Health, and Future Holding LLC.

"Water Conservation, Protection and Technology" exhibition was also held as part of the event by 18 companies that recycle and reuse wastewater.

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Significance of cloud physics highlighted at meteorology conference

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) Importance of cloud physics and its insufficiency in Mongolia was discussed during an academic conference held in the building of National Agency of Meteorology and Environment Monitoring on March 23, Thursday.

Themed 'Studying Clouds', the conference addressed water resources and wastewater, quality of surface water of Mongolia, satellite observation of cloud, ceilometers device and future prospect for native range through 5 presentations.

"Clouds have been comparatively less studied in Mongolia. Study of the type and characteristics of clouds is crucial in calculating the development stages and transition of a meteorological phenomenon, and balancing regional energy and precipitation", noted G.Sarangerel, Director of the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment in her opening speech.

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Wonders of forest mirror through creative eyes

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) Refreshing manifestations of the simple yet breathtaking beauty of forest, its greenery and life amid the trees reimagined by the inquisitive and imaginative minds of children are what await nature lovers at 'Wonders of Mongolian Forest' exhibition.

The geographically diverse and vast territory of Mongolia is home to more than 140 types of trees and bushes covering about 7.85 percent of the whole territory.

84.7 percent of the total forest cover is coniferous and deciduous forest whereas the remainder area is layered with saxaul forest. The total growing stock is 1.2 billion cubic meters with 78.9 percent constituted by larch alone.

These important facts and figures supplement the painting and photography exhibition currently open at Fine Arts Gallery. The 'Wonders of Mongolian Forest' exhibition is co-organized by UN-REDD Mongolia and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in dedication to International Day of Forests which is annually marked on March 21.

The exhibition features the best works selected from painting contests themed 'Wonders of Forest' and 'Green Future begins with me', organized among students of primary and secondary schools last December and select works of a photography contest that challenged photography lovers to capture forest at its most beautiful, intriguing and vulnerable.

Hopefully inspiring its visitors to take many treks and trips to the wilderness and deep inside of forests which can be very mysterious and attractive, the exhibition closes on March 23, Thursday.

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Lost people successfully rescued after heavy snowstorm in western aimags

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) Several people including 3 children went missing in the heavy snowstorm that hit western aimags starting on March 21, and National Emergency Management Agency was conducting search missions.

We previously reported that emergency servicemen were searching to rescue 8 persons: 33-year-old and 50-year-old men in Ulaangom soum of Uvs aimag, three children of age 10-15 in Tarialan soum of Uvs aimag, a physician and a driver who went to Kholboo soum of Umnugobi aimag on an emergency call and went missing and a 50-year-old man from Altantsugts soum of Bayan-Ulgii aimag.

On March 22, yesterday, National Emergency Management Agency reported that the missing people were found safe and sound.

As such, the heavy snowfall that covered the territories of Uvs, Zavkhan, Khuvsgul, Bayan-Ulgii, Gobi-Altai, Khentii, Bayan-Khongor and Khovd aimags has sadly taken one life, that of a 62-year-old man who originally went to help someone stuck in snow in Zavkhan aimag.

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Fossil from Mongolia is Ancient Relative of Today's Ginkgo biloba

Exceptionally well-preserved specimens unearthed in Early Cretaceous sediments of Mongolia belong to an ancient, dinosaur-era relative of the living plant Ginkgo biloba (today is native only to China).

March 24 (Sci-News) An international team of paleontologists led by Yale researcher Peter Crane discovered the fossils — from the extinct plant Umaltolepis mongoliensis — in ancient peat deposits at the Tevshiin Govi mine in the steppes of central Mongolia.

"The stems and leaves are similar to the ginkgo tree, but the seeds, and especially the structures they are born in, are unlike any other known plant, living or extinct. Finding something like this does not happen very often," said team member Dr. Patrick Herendeen, from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Paleontologists had previously uncovered fossils of Umaltolepis, but those were in poor condition, making them difficult to study.

Hundreds of better-preserved new specimens show that features of the stems and leaves are similar to those of Ginkgo biloba.

"However, the seed-bearing structures are not like those of today's ginkgo tree," Dr. Herendeen said.

"Ginkgo has large seeds with a fleshy outer covering, but Umaltolepis mongoliensis has small, winged seeds."

"As they developed, Umaltolepis mongoliensis seeds were protected inside a tough, resinous, umbrella-like outer covering, which stayed almost completely closed, opening only to release the seeds."

The key to determining how Umaltolepis mongoliensis is related to other seed plants lies in understanding its strange seed-bearing capsules.

While the Umaltolepis mongoliensis seeds are dissimilar to those of any other living or extinct plant, preliminary comparisons connect them with the seed-bearing structures of two groups of extinct plants that may be part of the ginkgo lineage.

These comparisons and the unique features of Umaltolepis mongoliensisindicate that ginkgo is the last living member of a group of plants that was much more diverse and important in the past.

"Umaltolepis mongoliensis provides new data for understanding relationships among living and fossil seed plants and supports previous ideas that Ginkgo biloba may be the sole surviving relict of a once very diverse group of Mesozoic seed plants," the researchers said.

Research describing Umaltolepis mongoliensis is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Sports

Special Olympics Winter Games 2017: S.Temuulen wins his second medal

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) Mongolian athlete S.Temuulen scoops bronze medal from Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017 in 50M Snowshoeing race category held on March 23. Adding another medal to their collection, Mongolian team secures 2 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals from this year's Special Olympics Winter Games.

In the history, 14 Mongolian athletes attended the Special Olympics Summer Games for the first time and competed in 4 categories, winning 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals on July 25, 2015 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

This year, the Mongolian team of 14 athletes under the guidance of 3 coaches participated in the Special Olympics Winter Games 2017. 

Special Olympics, the sports event for adults and children with intellectual disabilities takes place every two years and around 1.5 million volunteering employees and students help organize the event from around the world.

Almost 81000 Special Olympics games are held each year, which is approximately 222 games a day. More than 3000 athletes and 1100 coaches from 107 countries are participating in this year's Winter Games in 10 sports categories.

Mongolian athletes are participating in 3 categories, as Cross Country Ski race, Snowshoeing race and floor ball in the Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017.

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Mongolia secures second gold from Special Olympics

Ulaanbaatar, March 23 (MONTSAME) World's largest winter sports event for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, "Special Olympics World Winter Games Austria 2017" is taking place from March 17 to March 24. As of today, 14 Mongolian participants have won 2 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze medals.

M.Gantumur, the third place winner in Cross Country 50M race, won 100M race in the same category yesterday, March 22 and became the second Mongolian to ever win a gold medal in the Special Olympics. Mongolian first gold medalist in Special Olympics was N.Uyanga, who triumphed over the 50M race for the very first gold and came out second in the 100M race for the silver medal.

As for the Snowshoeing Race, B.Oyunbileg secured silver medals in both 200M and 100M races. Meanwhile, S.Temuulen also scooped silver medal in 25M race.  

Special Olympics World Winter Games take place every two years and involves adults and children with intellectual disabilities who can range from gifted, world-class competitors to average athletes to those with limited physical ability. The athletes are matched up according to their ability and age.

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Mongolian hockey team wins silver medal at Asian Challenge Cup

March 24 (gogo.mn) The Mongolian national hockey team won silver medal from "Asian challenge cup-2017" which held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Team Mongolia secured the silver medal defeating Singapore by 13:0, Thailand by 5:4 and Malaysia by 10:5. 

At the final, team of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) won over Mongolian Team by penalty after 4:4 draw. 

This year`s main contest was between the two runner-ups from last year, Mongolia and the UAE. Previously, Team Mongolia grabbed bronze medal in the last four years from Asian challenge cup.

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Runner B.Munkhzaya wins international marathon in Taiwan

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) "New Taipei Wan Jin Shi 2017" international marathon was held on March 19 and Mongolian marathoner, International Master B.Munkhzaya won a gold medal in the women's category.

B.Munkhzaya won the women's title in a time of 02:38:08 over Gebre Getiso of Ethiopia who finished the race in 02:38:21 and Ayele Belachew was placed third in a time of 02:39:07. A total of some 12 thousand runners participated in this year's race and 32 elite international runners were among them.

As for the men's marathon, Kipkogei Yego of Kenya completed the run in 02:17:02 while Debela Belda of Ethiopia came in second in a time of 02:17:04 and Kipchirchir Keiyo of Kenya was placed third with a time of 02:17:15. The event host Taiwan's best performance in the men's category was a 16th place finish and 13th place in the women's category.  

The Wan Jin Shi Marathon is an internationally accredited race with international bronze certification status from the International Amateur Athletic Federation for three consecutive years since 2015.

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Two Canadians to Contest 2017 Mongol Derby

March 23 (Mongol Derby) Two Canadians will line up in a field 40-strong for the 2017 Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest and toughest horse race – across 1,000km of Mongolian steppe. Last year the race was jointly won by Heidi Teldstad, a lawyer from Langley, British Columbia.

The two 2017 riders are: Olivia Wood, 24, a Canadian living in Buffalo, NY and Tamara Beckstead, 52, from Rockwood, Ontario.

This is the 9th Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest and toughest horse race. The 2017 race features 12 men and 23 women from nine countries riding 1,000km across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

William Comiskey was one of the joint winners in 2016. The following is a complete list of competitors:

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The Mongolian marathon man who shone alone at Spain's 1992 Olympics

Pyambuu Tuul recorded the worst time in 84 years in Barcelona, but it was a triumph over adversity

March 21 (El Pais) Unlike Eric Moussambani, the swimmer from Equatorial Guinea who crawled his way to fame in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with the slowest time ever for the men's 100m freestyle, Mongolia's Pyambuu Tuul never became a household name.

But Tuul's story is no less remarkable. It may have been the gold, silver and bronze marathon medalists who were invited to Barcelona this month to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Olympics, but it is the likes of Pyambuu Tuul who really remind us what the Olympian spirit is all about.

Born in 1959 in Ulan Bator, Tuul was the only Mongolian athlete competing in Barcelona. Signed up for the men's marathon, he took four hours and 44 seconds to complete the race, crossing the finishing line one hour and 47 minutes after the South Korean Young-Cho Hwang, who earned gold, and 56 minutes after the athlete who came in second to last.

By the time Tuul was on the home stretch, the closing ceremony for the Games had begun and, along with four other of the slowest runners, he was shunted onto a warm-up track near the stadium devoid of spectators, all but silent and dimly lit.

Not that Tuul was a stranger to gloom. A plasterer by trade, he had lost his sight in both eyes at the age of 19 in an explosion. Twelve months before the 1992 Games, the Achilles Club financed an operation giving him his sight back in one eye. Unaware of this, one Olympic judge accused him of giving the club free publicity after Tuul, thinking the race was over, removed his bib, exposing the Achilles Club's name on his running vest.

In the event, free publicity would have been no more than the Achilles Club deserved. Set up in New York in 1983 to encourage disabled athletes to compete in athletic events, its founder Richard Traum came to hear of Tuul, and invited him to New York to run the 1991 New York marathon with the help of a guide. A simple operation meant he recovered his sight in one eye, allowing him to see his wife and two children, ages six and eight, for the first time. It was then that Tuul vowed to run the Olympic marathon.

A year later, in Barcelona accompanied by 20 police officers, a car full of judges, a posse of motorbikes and a sweeper van, Tuul kept his pledge and completed the 42.195km race in the highest-profile event in sport.

After he had crossed the finish line, a journalist approached him and asked him why he had run so slowly. "No," he said. "I didn't run slowly. After all, you could call my run a Mongolian Olympic marathon record."

Another journalist then asked whether it had been the best day of his life, to which he replied: "Up until six months ago I had no sight at all. I was a totally blind person. When I trained it was only with the aid of friends who ran with me. But a group of doctors came to my country last year to do humanitarian medical work. One doctor took a look at my eyes and asked me questions. He said, 'But I can fix your sight with a simple operation'. So he carried out the operation and after 20 years I could see again. So today wasn't the greatest day of my life. The best day was when I got my sight back and I saw my wife and two daughters for the first time. And they are beautiful."

Tuul's marathon run was a grand gesture of gratitude. And he ended the race proud and happy, despite not actually finishing it inside the Olympic Stadium, and despite the fact the King and Queen of Spain, along with the other spectators, had long since given up waiting for him, and also despite the fact that his glasses had broken that same morning and he had to stick them together with tape. His time was the worst in 84 years, but his personal race had its own merit. "It was a test of man's possibilities," says Tuul.

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Skier B.Achbadrakh perseveres in his race to the 2018 Winter Olympic

March 23 (UB Post) Skier B.Achbadrakh made his country proud by seizing Mongolia's first medal from a World Championship event in skiing. Last February, he earned a bronze medal in the men's cross-country 10 km qualification race at the Nordic World Ski Championships by finishing in 27 minutes and 27 seconds, losing second place by mere 10 seconds.

The young Mongolian skier has demonstrated that he is a world-class athlete. B.Achbadrakh revealed that he has set the ambitious goal to challenge himself at the Pyeong Chang 2018 Olympic Winter Games next.

The 22-year-old athlete delves into the skiing sport, his recent successes and aspirations in the interview below.

Congratulations on winning Mongolia's first medal in skiing from a World Championship event. How confident were you about winning a medal at the Nordic World Ski Championships?

Thank you. Since the beginning of 2017, I have participated in four major tournaments, namely the Student Ski World Cup/ GEM Altigliss Challenge, the 2017 Asian Winter Games, and the International Ski Federation (FIS)'s Alpine World Ski Championships and Nordic World Ski Championships. The last one was the most important one. Four Mongolian athletes entered the championships under coach J.Khaliun.

I'm glad that I was able to win a bronze medal on my second participation in this championship. Last time, I came in 25th place. I was sure that I'd be able to do well this time because I trained really hard.

How did you feel standing on the podium and having the state flag raised on the world platform?

It's was indescribable. I hoped it wasn't a dream. My teammates were in tears when I arrived at the finishing line. At that exact moment, I was overwhelmed with emotions and I started crying. I felt so proud to be a Mongolian when I received my medal and when Mongolia's flag was raised.  Almost immediately, my mind went to my nation and my parents.

I hurried to share the good news with my mother who bid me a safe journey and kissed my forehead the last time I saw her. She'd already heard the news when I finally managed to connect with her through the internet. She said she was proud of me and wept so much that she couldn't speak for a while. I'm pleased to have made my mother happy.

I'd like to use this opportunity to share my gratitude to the national team, the Mongolian Ski Federation, academic research workers specialized in sports, the General Authority for Border Protection's Unit 0165, Khilchin Sports Committee, Uvurkhangai Province's Bat-Ulzii soum authority, and my family.

How difficult was the ski racing track? Athletes from which country were strongest at the Nordic World Ski Championships?

It snowed a lot during the race. I competed against 67 athletes from 28 countries, and from them, Armenian, Lithuanian, and Belarusian skiers were the strongest.

My main strategy was to stay with the leading group of skiers from beginning to end. My coach also advised that I keep up with the fastest skier and gradually reduce the distance between us.

The latest championship you competed in was an A level competition. Was it possible for you to have done better?

The top 10 athletes of a B level competition become eligible to enter an A level competition. To be honest, I can't even confidently say that I had a good chance of getting a medal. Last time I entered this championship, I finished in 84th place out of 134 contestants.

I was also quite drained out by the previous competition – the Student Ski World Cup.

Didn't you participate in the Asian Winter Games right before the championship?

That's right. After finishing the B level competition, I entered the Asian Winter Games in Japan. On the following day, I challenged the Nordic World Ski Championships so I got very tired during the last race.

How did you train for the championship?

The national team and the Mongolian Ski Federation negotiated with Sky Resort and got us free passes to train at Sky Resort.

Moreover, I took part in a joint training for over a month in Finland, which seems to have been very effective.

How many points have you gained from qualification tournaments for the Pyeong Chang 2018 Olympic Winter Games?

Until today, Mongolians skiers failed to pass B level competitions. I crossed a huge hurdle and opened a huge opportunity by winning a bronze from the World Championships. It allows me to enter A level competitions in the future.  Mongolian skiers have never competed in this type of competition before. I hope to earn an entry to the Olympics next.

So far, I've collected 130 points. If I can earn 100 more points, I'll get the chance to make a historic achievement. If I'm able to do so, the FIS will gift another Mongolian skier with a right to enter the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Another way for skiers to attain an Olympic quota is to get more than 300 points from five B level competitions.

What do you need to do to get 100 points?

I need to win medals. Even if I don't win first place, I should lose by a narrow margin. That's the only way I can earn an entry to the Winter Olympics.

Do you think winning a medal from the World Championship is different from winning an Olympic medal?

I'm sure I have a fair chance of winning an Olympic medal. Since my training facility is poor and I never get state support, I think it's better to rely on my own strengths. I will work hard on my own.

You became the first Mongolian skier to win a medal from the World Championships. How did the Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and people of your soum react?

It's really nice to be congratulated and encouraged by my relatives, people from my birthplace, and Mongolian Ski Federation members.  Representatives from the ministry and federation welcomed me back home at the airport.

Is it true that your father was a skier? Did you become interested in skiing because of your father?

My father loves skiing and his enthusiasm passed onto me. I used to enjoy watching my father ski in the coldest months. I wanted to ski so much that I started training in 2006, when I was 11 years old. Coach Bayandelgerer first taught me to ski on a wooden ski back in Bat-Ulzii soum of Uvurkhangai Province.

It's interesting how you won the State Ski Championship five times but never won the junior and youth championships. Can you tell us about this?

Yes, it's quite interesting. My personal record suddenly improved in 2012. I'm guessing it's because I didn't have a coach and trained on my own before then. I've made significant achievements within the last five years – ever since I started training under coach Dashdondog and Khaliun.

I became a Vice-master of Sports in 2012, a Master of Sports in 2014 and an International Sports Master two years ago. I joined the junior national team in 2013 and the national team in 2014. I won the State Ski Championship five times. I came in 29th place at the Student Ski World Cup, and in 11th place at the Sapporo International Ski Marathon.

There are two forms of skiing – alpine and cross-country. In which form do you have a better chance of succeeding?

 My goal is to actively train and make significant achievements in both forms.

Do you do any other sports?

I do short distance running, in other words sprinting, on track and field. I will challenge myself in a competition if I ever get the chance.

As winter sports are still new to Mongolia, athletes training in winter sports don't have adequate training facilities. Have you ever felt like quitting and switching to another sport?

Skiers have to keep training throughout the year to become good. We rest only once a week. For sure, there are times when I get depressed. It's common for us to get frost bites while training in cold temperature.

Right now, we're training at Sky Resort because we don't have a proper training facility. When skiers from other countries post photos of their standard training places on their Facebook page, I envy them a lot. I heard that some countries provide accommodations right next to the training facility to athletes and provide them with everything they need.

Our training conditions might be nowhere near those of countries that are highly developed in winter sports, but they are slowly improving and the government is starting to support us. The national team is covering our expenses for entering competitions and providing us with necessary medication and vitamins.

Young people have sufficient opportunities to start skiing and surpass skiers from other countries. I don't have the right to step back if I want to fulfill my goal.

What's the secret to your success?

I didn't come this far just by sitting around. All the sweat and effort I poured every day is starting to pay off. The old saying that you can carve a better future by thinking positively is really true.

Who I am today and what I'll achieve tomorrow all depends on me. I strongly believe that my hard work will pay off someday. One should never be satisfied with their current results and should always keep pushing oneself.

What's your near-term plan?

An Olympic qualifier tournament will take place next month in Turkey. I plan to enter that tournament as well as the Demino Ski Marathon, which will be held in Russia. Skiers will be required to ski 50 kilometers in the marathon. I'll start training in two days.

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Breeders' Cup Winners Oscar Performance, Mongolian Saturday Top Stellar Roster of Nominations for Opening Weekend of Keeneland's 2017 Spring Meet

Seven opening-weekend stakes worth a total of $2.55 million. View all nominations at KEENELAND.COM/BLUEGRASS

LEXINGTON, KY (March 24, 2017) – Two Breeders' Cup winners – 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Oscar Performance and Mongolian Saturday, winner of the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland – headline the list of horses nominated to five graded stakes that are part of seven stakes to be run during the April 7-9 opening weekend of Keeneland's 2017 Spring Meet.

The 15-day season, from April 7-28, offers racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16.

Highlighting opening weekend is the 93rd running of the $1 MILLION TOYOTA BLUE GRASS (G2) and the 80th running of the $500,000 CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND (G1), both on Saturday, April 8.

The opening-day feature is the 29th running of the $150,000 TRANSYLVANIA (G3) PRESENTED BY KEENELAND SELECT for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Amerman Racing's Oscar Performance, trained by Brian Lynch, is one of 39 horses nominated to the race. Winner of three of four career races, including the Pilgrim (G3), Oscar Performance has not started in 2017.

Also nominated to the Transylvania is Woodford Racing's Ticonderoga, who was fourth to Oscar Performance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita. Trained by Chad Brown, Ticonderoga won his 2017 debut, the Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 4.

The Toyota Blue Grass and the Central Bank Ashland anchor a blockbuster 11-race card on opening Saturday that features five stakes worth $2.25 million. Joining the Toyota Blue Grass and Central Bank Ashland are the 16th running of the $300,000 MADISON (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs on the dirt; 21st running of the $200,000 SHAKERTOWN (G2) for 3-year-olds and up at 5½ furlongs on turf; and the 31st running of the $250,000 COMMONWEALTH (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.

Topping the 20 nominations for the Madison are LNJ Foxwoods' Constellation, winner of the 2016 La Brea (G1) at Santa Anita, and recent Grade 2 winners Distinta and High Ridge Road.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Constellation finished second to Madison nominee Pretty N Cool in the Las Flores (G3) at Santa Anita on March 5 in her most recent start.

Distinta, owned by Veb Racing Stable Corp. and trained by Victor Barboza Jr., won the Inisde Information at Gulfstream on March 18.

Martin Schwartz's High Ridge Road, trained by Linda Rice, took the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel on Feb. 18 in her last outing.

The Shakertown attracted Mongolian Stable's Mongolian Saturday as the headliner among 27 nominees.

Trained by Enebish Ganbat, Mongolian Saturday won last October's Woodford (G3) Presented by Keeneland Select, the Keeneland Fall Meet equivalent of the Shakertown. In his other Keeneland start, which was prior to his Breeders' Cup victory, Mongolian Saturday finished second in the 2015 Woodford.

Also among the nominees is defending champion Undrafted. Unraced since finishing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, Undrafted could join Soaring Free (2004-2005) as back-to-back winners of the Shakertown. Wesley Ward trains Undrafted, who finished third in the 2015 Shakertown.

The Commonwealth attracted 32 nominations headed by Green Lantern Stables' A. P. Indian.

Trained by Arnaud Delacour, A. P. Indian won two Grade 1 races in 2016 and also triumphed in Keeneland's Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) before a third-place result in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in his most recent start.

Also nominated is Katherine Ball's Limousine Liberal, Keeneland's track-record holder at 6½ furlongs. Trained by Ben Colebrook, Limousine Liberal has not raced since being placed fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and prior to that finished a nose behind A. P. Indian in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix.

Completing the opening weekend stakes lineup on Sunday, April 9, is the 32nd running of the $150,000 ADENA SPRINGS BEAUMONT (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 7 furlongs 184 feet on dirt.

The Adena Springs Beaumont is the final prep in Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 5 at Churchill Downs. A total of 17 Kentucky Oaks points will be available in the race on a 10-4-2-1 scale for the top four finishers.

Headlining the list of 39 nominees is Dancing Rags, winner of last fall's Darley Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland.

Owned by Chadds Ford Stable and trained by Graham Motion, Dancing Rags has not raced since finishing eighth in last fall's 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

Also among the nominees are the dead-heat winners of the 2016 Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga: Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer.

St. Elias Stable owns Sweet Loretta, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. Pretty City Dancer is owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse.

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Art & Entertainment

Tragedy in America: young Mongolian contortionist dies

March 22 (news.mn) A Mongolian girl, a member of 'Circus Mongolia' has died in the United States. According to an unofficial source, the girl, who is a contortionist might have been killed by someone. The Foreign Ministry of Mongolia explained that it could not give any information before receiving permission from the family.

The Embassy of Mongolia in the USA is responsible for examining the case and to returning the girl's body to Ulaanbaatar.

'Circus Mongolia', led by director Ch.Katanbaatar flew to USA last week.

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Season 2 of "Your Face Sounds Familiar" starts in April

March 24 (news.mn) Edutainment TV will broadcast another international television franchise show entitled 'Your Face Sounds Familiar' from 2nd of April. The show is an interactive reality television franchise series developed by Endemol and Antena 3, where celebrity contestants impersonate singers.

On 24th of March, the organisers announced who the seven contestants in the show would be, however, the identity of the judges and the eighth contestant has been kept hidden. The following celebrities will participate in the TV show: G.Mend-Amar, singer of Mongolian famous boy band 'Camerton', singer Khishigdalai, T.Barkhuu from X-Tuts production, B.Ariuntsetseg from 'Emotsi' production, S.Gantogoo, member of the South Korean 'Montant' band and the pianist S.Alimaa.

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21 poets' creations made alive in 21 photographs

Ulaanbaatar, March 22 (MONTSAME) On the occasion of the World Poetry Day, observed on March 21, Zokhist Dorno publishing company and the Union of Mongolian Photographers jointly organized an exhibition called "Poems in Photos".

The photographic exhibition expressed deep meaning behind poems through each piece, also delivering a message to spark the love for nature, pristine landscape of our motherland.

Exhibit pieces were poems hailing the motherland by 21 famous Mongolian poets such as B.Lkhagvasuren, T.Galsan and D.Uriankhai and 21 distinguished photographers from the Mongolian Photographers' Union.

Poet Kh.Suglegmaa said: "We are living and authoring our creations in a world where everyone is massively informed and almost everything is digitalized. The most captivating thing about this exhibit is that all pieces are joint efforts of poets and photographers. I have written a poem called "Stone Ger", which has many words such as 'toono' and 'totgo' that can only be understood by Mongolians. This poem of mine was translated into English and Chinese. Luckily, a photographer from MONTSAME agency B.Chadraabal took a magnificent photo suited just for the meaning of my poem. The Stone Ger is one of the poems that should possess its place in Mongolian literature, and this piece is a unique phenomenon, as the photo captures the image of the author's birthplace, the Demchig Monastery in Khanbogd soum of Umnugobi (South Gobi) aimag".

This exhibition was the first of the annual series of such exhibitions by poets and photographers. 

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New book re-assesses 20th century Mongolian literature

Ulaanbaatar, March 20 (MONTSAME) World Poetry Day falls on March 21, Tuesday. In connection with the day, an important new publication was launched by the Department of Mongolian Language and Literature, University of Ulaanbaatar on March 20, Monday.

Titled 'Mongolian Literature in the 20th century', the book has been written as the first volume of 'Comparative research on the 20th century literature in Mongolia and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China' project, co-implemented by the University of Ulaanbaatar and Inner Mongolia Academy of Social Sciences.

Since there are number of publications evaluating literature works written in the 20th century, the authors E.Batjavkhlan, Sh.Battur and A.Munkh-Orgil, faculties of the Department of Mongolian Language and Literature, University of Ulaanbaatar approached the literature from 1900-2000 as a precious cultural heritage in terms of its literary elements and context with a basis on interconnection between oral and written literature, tradition and reforms and social and mental factors.

Division of the 20th century literature into periods hasn't been generalized or commonly agreed upon; therefore the authors simply divided the century into decades, and chose literature works based on its quality rather than author for their analysis. The authors have worked on the book for the last 2-3 years.

Professor S.Baigalsaikhan, editor of the book and Director of the University of Ulaanbaatar noted that the book will play a considerable role in the humanitarian education in primary and secondary schools in Mongolia and further simplify the teaching methodology of literature in the last century. "The book is an attempt to detach Mongolian literature in the 20th century from the old approach of it deeply reflecting political and socialist ideology", remarked S.Baigalsaikhan.

The publishers are planning to distribute the book free of charge to all state-run schools in Ulaanbaatar which were represented by their teachers at the launch event, which was also attended by senior writers and those who adore literature.

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Exhibition: 'Crescendo' at UMA

March 21 (UB Post) Young artist J.Anunaran is showcasing her fifth solo exhibition, "Crescendo", at the Art Gallery of the Union of Mongolian Artists through March 23.

"Crescendo" is a continuation of her previous exhibitions "Metamorphosis" and "Freewill". Her artworks continue to reflect an emphasis on the inner workings of things.

Patterns and elements of manufactured textiles were installed in the gallery to be absorbed as part of the artwork's surrounding environment, creating layers of recurrent and irregular shapes.

We acknowledge the uniqueness of our bodies, moreover our unique destiny, through the evidence of the passage of time of the human life: wrinkles, scars, and moles that tell our stories and are markers of our memories and the negative counterparts of life experiences.

Enhanced by contrasts, spiritual connections are not always apparent in our physical being, yet brought into existence in our souls, they embody a linear witnessing of our existence.

Throughout time, marks on our bodies that were conceived in the womb can drift away from symmetry to an anti-symmetrical state, while the development of individual aesthetics become a process of self-creation in an  existence free from guidelines for visual aesthetics.

Geometric shapes – as if they were created at the start of the universe in outer space, express our history and the processes we are going through, just like the lines on our palms.

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Mongolian Folk Metal Band 'Tengger Cavalry' Releases Cover of Avril Lavigne Song

March 23 (Ultimate Guitar) Global Music Award-winning Nomadic Mongolian folk metal group Tengger Cavalry aren't just all about history, heavy metal and cultural issues.

Sometimes, the NYC-based quintet just wants to take time to enjoy themselves and have fun. Tengger Cavalry have let loose this month by recording not one, but two covers of tracks by punk-influenced pop star Avril Lavigne. Showcasing their ability to explore different influences while remaining true to their unique sound, Tengger Cavalry have unleashed their Mongolian metal version of the hit song, "My Happy Ending". Watch the official video now!

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Mongolian ballet celebrates 30th anniversary

Ulaanbaatar, March 24 (MONTSAME) This year marks the 30th anniversary of Three Hills of Misfortune ballet which was first staged on March 28, 30 years from now.

In commemoration of the anniversary, three generations of Mongolian ballet dancers are going to stage a special performance for Mongolian ballet lovers on March 25, Saturday at Mongolian State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet.

Based on famous Mongolian writer D.Natsagdorj's tragic opera 'Dramatic Three Hills' which can be understood as Mongolian Romeo and Juliet, the ballet was finally delivered to Mongolian audience after State Honored Cultural Figure B.Jamiyandagva worked on the choreography for about 20 years. The ballet's music was composed by State Honored Artist J.Mend-Amar.

"When they first staged the Dramatic Three Hills opera in the 1960s, they changed the ending to a happy one which received backlash from both audiences and critics. Then after about 20 years, we staged its ballet version with the original plot, and I would say, audience reaction was very positive with a number of people congratulating me", recalled B.Jamiyandagva.

Since then, the ballet has been performed 132 times by generations of Mongolian ballet dancers. State Foremost Artist N.Erdenetsetseg, who was the first Nansalmaa, the female protagonist also shared, "When B.Jamiyandagva choreographed the ballet, he complied with the rules of ballet choreography but added traditional Mongolian dance elements which made the ballet altogether very traditional and unique".

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B.Tserendolgor's life gets a makeover after Mongolia's Next Top Model

March 22 (UB Post) Model B.Tserendolgor's victory in Mongolia's Next Top Model (MNTM) is causing a sensation among fashion enthusiasts in Mongolia.

The 20-year-old model says that the show helped boost her confidence and interest in fashion. She sees her life change right in front of her eyes now that she has signed a two-year modeling contract with Singapore's Look Models Agency on top of winning a 20 million MNT cash prize and a plane ticket to Paris.

B.Tserendolgor was interviewed to get inside information about the first season of the Mongolian adaptation of the Next Top Model show, her lifestyle, and future aspirations.

Congratulations on winning MNTM. How confident were you that you would win?

Thank you very much. I can't believe I won a world-class fashion show. I was so happy that I can't remember what happened. To be honest, the other two finalists were very strong opponents so I wasn't 100 percent confident of winning. My phone hasn't stopped ringing since this morning (March 13) and my Instagram and Facebook page are full of congratulatory messages.

Yu.Baljidmaa received the most votes from the public in the final, but you won thanks to extremely high votes from the judges. Yu.Baljidmaa's fans must have felt disappointed. What's your thoughts on this?

Mongolia is a world of beauty pageants. People haven't been fully convinced that modeling is a career. Had they understood this, there wouldn't have been any problems. Even so, they have the right to express their views. I still don't think I need to make a statement on this.

You and Yu.Baljidmaa are experienced models who worked at Mongol Model Agency. Did you know Yu.Baljidmaa before the show?

Seven months have passed since I joined Mongol Model Agency. Before I entered MNTM, I didn't know Yu.Baljidmaa that well. I only knew her face. We became closer during the show. We battled it out fairly and tried to achieve our respective goals and dreams. A competition is still a competition. Throughout the show, we always had friendly and fair competition with each other.

Some people claimed that you lied about your age during the show. Is it true?

There were some issues about my age. When I was 14, I participated in a competition saying I was two years older. The organizers were aware of that. I had to lie about my age to be able to enter the competition. I didn't want to deceive others.

Which task was the hardest during MNTM?

The hardest was the photoshoot with my mother. I was overwhelmed with emotions during the photoshoot because I was so happy to see her but also nervous modeling with her. I can't remember how I finished the photoshoot, but I was definitely very happy.

Which main photoshoot challenge was hardest to do?

Out of the main challenges, the photoshoot in Khuvsgul Province was the most difficult. I'm sure all contestants think so. We had to wear light clothing when it was -40 degrees Celsius. The photoshoot might have seemed like it took only two or three minutes, but in reality, each person stood in front of the camera for 15 to 20 minutes. It was really hard back then. I guess it's something a model must do.

How would you assess the way MNTM was organized?

I'm sure it had the best organization out of all Mongolian shows.  Judges' skills, tasks given to us, and everything else was perfect. The objective of MNTM is to show what a model does to the masses. I believe it succeeded in fulfilling that objective.

When did you become interested in modeling? When did you first walk on the runway?

I never dreamed of becoming a model when I was a child. I developed an interest in fashion two years ago and started learning about it. Right then, designer Ariunaa Suri offered me a job and we met for the first time. She even picked me as her model. She's the one who helped me the most in making my interests and dreams become reality.

Honestly speaking, I never expected myself to fall in love with the fashion industry this much. I believe in fate. I guess I was fated to enter the fashion industry.

Are you working with Ariunaa Suri right now?

The contract I signed back then has expired. People might have known me as a model for Ariunaa Suri's brand. My successful participation in MNTM has made my existence in the fashion industry stronger.

You're studying dentistry at Ach University of Medical Sciences. Why did you choose dentistry? Do you plan to focus on your studies or modeling in the near-future?

I think that dentistry is a very productive and good profession. There's so many complex work like filling teeth. It requires so much time and concentration to specialize in dentistry. At first, I wanted to study cosmetic surgery, which then changed to my current field of study. I will graduate next year. I will definitely study hard and strive to become a good dentist. However, my near-term goal is to prioritize my modeling career. Since there's time for everything, I'm sure the days for me to study more and work as a dentist will come someday.

Many viewers believe that you won thanks to your confidence, decisive and strong-willed personality. Are you usually confident?

My imagination makes me stronger and more confident. I fantasize about everything. For example, I don't eat fast food because I imagine how badly it would affect my health. I tend to imagine the consequences before making any decision. That helps me believe that I'm doing the right thing.

It was easier for me to get into character during photoshoots because I visualized it beforehand. In a way, I improved my imagination skills by reading storybooks. In my opinion, books affect greatly on one's behavior, views, and approach to things.

People in the fashion industry noted that you have unique features. How satisfied are you with your appearance?

A photo of my bare smiling face was shared on social media. A person 100 percent satisfied with their appearance doesn't fear looking bad in front of others. Who can look beautiful all the time, right? It would be boring. I try to act and look myself.

Do you have a boyfriend?

I was asked this question too much on Facebook. I do have a boyfriend. We've been together for over a year. He works at New Media Group and studies.

Do you do any sport?

I'm interested in boxing. I'm embarrassed to say I train in any sport because athletes would laugh at me. I'm a sports fan. I like to do sports when I have free time. I actually enjoy adventure sports. I've been doing aerobics for three years now. I only recently started boxing.

Models use a lot of makeup for photoshoots. How do you take care of your skin?

My skin has become very sensitive right now. The skin can get damaged due to stress, too much makeup, and unstable emotions. I don't like using different kinds of products for skin care. If I use too many beauty products when I'm 20, my skin will demand much more when I'm 40. So I try to use as few products as possible. Cleansing is more important than makeup. Also, I never leave the house without putting on sunscreen.

Do you buy brand products and clothes?

Many girls use beauty product sets. All my life, I've used Nivea Soft products. As for clothes, I don't buy expensive brand-name products. I'm a student without a stable income. It's impossible to buy whatever I want since I'm financially dependent on my parents. I try to find casual clothes that suit me and are cheap.

How has your life changed since MNTM?

For a fact, a lot of things have changed for my modeling career. That was my main goal for signing up for the show. However, the individual B.Tserendolgor hasn't changed.

I was hesitant before deciding to enter the show. I managed to register just before the deadline. Now that I mustered the courage to enter it, I'm receiving tons of encouragement from friends and family. I'm glad I made the right decision. Everyone has a path to tread and a fate to follow. My bold decision has led me to this success.

Many people helped to successfully organize the show. I'd like to express my gratitude to all of them and my fellow contestants.

What makes a good model in your opinion?

Models must have a unique and attractive face. Models actually work unlike beauty pageants. That's the main difference between them. Beauty pageants are peace ambassadors while models do jobs. It's a profession. Models are people who are able to promote new creations of other people.

You signed a two-year modeling contract. How do you plan to stand out from among foreign models?

I will use the fact that I'm a Mongolian as my advantage. I want to show how beautiful and brilliant Mongolians are.

What's your ultimate goal?

I don't want to be boxed by anything. I don't want to limit my potential to one thing by saying that it's my ultimate goal. I will work hard to show what Mongolian models are capable of to the world.

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Travel

Regular passports to be issued for five and ten years, will not be extended

March 22 (Mongolian Economy) In 2004, the 12th session of International Civil Aviation Organization's meeting in Cairo issued a protocol regarding biometric technology in machine readable travel documents, which included instructions such as not extending the validity of machine readable travel documents and not accepting extended passports as machine readable travel documents.

For holders of extended Mongolian passports, this created the risk of being denied boarding onto international flights and entry into foreign countries.

Hence, the Cabinet has thus decided to reform the current travel document policy to bring it in line with international standards. There will be no changes in fees in connection with this decision, the Cabinet's media department reported.

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Oxford medical students take ambulance to Mongolia

March 24 (South Central Ambulance Service - NHS Foundation Trust) Three medical students at Oxford University are soon to start the adventure of a lifetime, driving an ambulance from Oxford to Mongolia for charity.

Their 5,000 mile journey starts from Oxford this Sunday (26 March), will take three weeks to complete and is part of the Mongolia Charity Rally – an annual event organised by the charity, Go Help. At the finish line the ambulance will be donated to the Mongolian Health Services, as the country faces a serious shortage of emergency vehicles.

The team has raised £2,000 in donations for Go Help and a further £8,000 for the costs of the trip through travel grants and adventure bursaries – managing to achieve this while working towards their final exams which they passed in January.

"We've been planning the project for more than a year", said Jennifer Southern, who came up with the idea. "It's a huge relief to have put the exams behind us and to have qualified. Between revision and this project, we've had little time for anything else – but it's been worth it. Now we can focus on getting ourselves and the ambulance to Mongolia in one piece!"

The ambulance they will be driving has been donated by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS).

Phil Pimlott, Assistant Director of Operational Quality and Compliance at SCAS said: "We renew our vehicles every eight years or so. This ambulance has reached retirement age, but it's in great working order. It's nice to know that it will be put to good use by the charity."

"We're incredibly grateful for the support that we've received from SCAS and elsewhere", said Emily McFiggans, another or the student trio. "For example, the costs of our heavy goods vehicle driving tests were sponsored by local driving school, Trailer Training UK. We're really humbled by everyone's generosity."

Jennifer, Emily and Alex will take the northern route to Mongolia, travelling through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia. You can follow their progress at https://mongoliaambulanceproject.wordpress.com

If you would like to help with the costs of the journey (such as fuel and driving permits) please visit www.gofundme.com/going-short

To make a charitable donation directly to Go Help, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/medics-khan-drive

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Sophie Howarth: From Big Day Out to Mongolia

(2ser FM) Sophie Howarth's passion for festival photograhy started when became an official photographer for the Big Day Out , and has since taken her to Mongolia to cover the Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia.

While they may seem worlds apart, she thinks all festivals have a similar feeling of magic; that "there's really something other-worldy that happens in that environment".

Sophie came into the 2SER studio to speak with Adrian about her photography exhibition Soaring - The Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia. 

Soaring - The Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia can be viewed in the foyer of the Dendy Cinema on King Street Newtown.

The Eagle Huntress has been on limited release nationally since March 16.

Prints of Sophie's photos are available for sale online

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Top 10 Shocking Facts About Mongolia

March 25 (Most Amazing Top 10) --

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The 10 best experiences you can't miss in Mongolia

March 26 (Living Nomads) Mongolia is a wonderful country to explore and experience the steppes and the features in the traditional culture of the nomadic community. If you are intending to travel to Mongolia, there are 10 things you definitely can not miss.

1. Visit the Ulaanbaatar Capital

Ulaanbaatar is a great place to start your journey in Mongolia. When coming here, you can visit the large number of museums, monasteries and other interesting places. To get acquainted with the culture and life of the Mongolian people before exploring the suburb of the city, you should choose a reliable hotel or motel to stay in Ulaanbaatar for at least two nights.

The Mongolian tourism industry is still in the development stage, so you may have some troubles in finding tour guides, purchasing train ticket or other transportation. Although there are some companies that help travelers make these arrangements, but the service charges are relatively high. However, the quality hotels in Ulaanbaatar often help travelers find tour guides and give advice on sightseeing places.

2. Learn about history

Mongolian history is associated with horses, nomadic customs, Genghis Khan and the Ulaanbaatar capital. Travelers should start Mongol journey from the National Museum in the center of Ulaanbaatar. This is the largest museum in Mongolia and it will help you to experience the history of this country from the ancient time until now.

3. Stay in the Mongolian tents

This is the traditional style of nomadic people in Mongolia and maintains until now. Staying in traditional tents is definitely something you should do if you come to Mongolia.

On the suburb of the Ulaanbaatar capital, you will also find this kind of tent if you want to experience traditional life while enjoying the comforts of urban life also.

In the suburbs, there are many families willing to welcome visitors to stay in their homes. However, if you do not like to stay in a homestead, you can stay at tents camps that are reserved for travelers with the outside like a traditional tent, but it is very comfortable as a hotel.

4. Ride the camel in the Gobi desert

If you want to go to the countryside of Mongolia, you must cross the Gobi desert. In the journey across the Gobi desert, visitors can take a night or a full day. However, this is an exciting journey that anyone who goes to Mongolia should experience. In the Dalanzadgad town, you have the opportunity to explore the features of this desert, including the Bayanzag Cliffs and the spectacular sand dunes of Khongriin Els.

Even in the winter, the Gobi desert also brings an interesting experience. Although the temperature does not drop as other areas of Mongolia, you can still feel the cold bones or see camels with thick fur in the snow.

5. Overnight at the monastery

Although much Mongolian has atheism, Buddhism is still the main religion in this country. In Ulaanbaatar or other big cities, you can see a lot of monks on the street. For the enjoyable experiences, guests can visit and spend the night at monasteries such as Manjusri Monastery located in Bogd Khan National Park south of Ulaanbaatar city.

Visitors often have some difficulty in finding information about an overnight at monasteries in Mongolia. However, you can ask the help of the guides, they will help you to book accommodations or directly ask the manager of the monasteríe you visit, they often rarely refuse.

6. Horse Riding

When you came to Mongolia once time, any visitor want to try horse riding along the vast steppes of the country. If you ride the horse for sightseeing, you should hire a tour guide. Typically, when traveling to Mongolia, visitors usually buy horses for use and then resell them after finish the journey. This option is cheaper than hiring a horse.

Tour guides can also help you find overnight accommodation, in hotels or in tents of indigenous families. In addition, visitors can also set their own tents to enjoy private space.

7. Drink horse milky wine

Horse milky wine is a cuisine of Mongolia. It has the taste of the usual wine and the characteristic odor of horses, which has a high alcohol dosage. One thing to keep in mind is that if you go into a local home, you will be considered rude if you refuse to drink horse milk when you are invited.

Besides horse milk, you should try some other drinks like Borgio and Altai Gobi or black beers Khar Khorum. Another drink is stronger than beer and lighter than horse milky wine is vodka, which is extremely cheap and easy to buy at local stores.

8. Explore Khovsgol Lake

Although Ulaanbaatar is the coldest city in the world in the winter, however, in the summer, Mongolia is relatively warm. At this time, local people often go to the suburb on the weekend to view the Khovsgol Lake. Here, you can take a cool bath in Khovsgol Lake, fishing, boating or walk.

You can get to Khovsgol Lake by airplane or bus from the Ulaanbaatar capital to Mörön, one of the main cities along the lake. You should travel by bus for having the chance to see the Mongolian countryside through the car window.

9. Experience festivals

Attending the festival is the fastest way if you want to experience the culture of Mongolia. One of the biggest and most famous festivals in this country is the Naadam festival that takes place from July 11 to 13. This festival is also considered the second oldest Olympics in the world.

Here, local people are proud to watch their favorite athletes in competing. The three main subjects of the festival are archery, horse riding, and wrestling. There are also many other activities such as traditional dance and enjoy the food.

Another popular festival in Mongolia is the Bayan-Ölgii Eagle, held in late September. At this festival, you can see a lot of hawks, although they have an origin in neighboring Kazakhstan, but they have lived in Mongolia for decades and have adapted to the climate here.

10. Skiing on Altai Mountain

In Mongolia, you can ski near the Ulaanbaatar capital with its original slides, completely natural and clean.

If you want to hire a local guide to help carry your luggage, you should invite a few other friends to save on service costs.

Read more Mongolia travel guide at here

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Discovering a Country through its Festival: The Naadam Festival, Mongolia

March 20 (FestPop) When traveling to a foreign nation, or even exploring the US, a traveler must always consider the best way to explore the country's history and culture. Taking the time to go to a festival is perfect for those who want more than the photo-op tourist spots. A festival, whether a music festival or national event, is a fun and exciting way to get beneath the surface and learn about the culture and lifestyle of the country. The Naadam Festival in Mongolia is a national festival that combines the county's equine culture with traditional games along with food and music.

Discover Mongolia reported that the three sports played over the two-day festival are horse racing, wrestling, and archery. The site writes: "this is the best time to see the Mongolian people and soak up the party atmosphere." The festival is so important to Mongolian culture that in 2010 it was put on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. Competitors in the sports wear traditional Mongolian garments that haven't changed in centuries.

Alongside the traditional sports the UNESCO site states the festival includes "oral traditions, performing arts, national cuisine, craftsmanship, and cultural forms such as long song." There is no better place to get a sense of Mongolia's people than the Naadam Festival. Horse riding and racing is an integral part of Mongolia's culture and forms the center of Naadam's entertainment. Unlike racing in countries such as the US and UK, the race takes place over a long distance and is much more like a cross-country event than track racing. An interesting fact is that children train to be jockeys when they are young and take part in the race at a much earlier age than in the West. The Naadam Festival has existed for centuries, with some sources claiming it began as far back as the 13th Century, and its legacy is a vital part of the Mongolia's identity.

Exploring a nation's equine culture is a great way to discover a country. Most equine events are accompanied with a festival that celebrates the country's cultural peculiarities. For example, Mike Norman, a journalist who writes articles on the Grand National for Betfair Horse Racing describes the race as "one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar." It's not only one of the country's most prestigious races but it is also a great way to experience Britain's sporting heritage through the surrounding events that accompany the races. Likewise the Kentucky Derby in the US is the oldest continuous race in America making it, like the Naadam Festival for Mongolia and the Grand National for the UK, an essential stop for visitors wanting to get a deeper sense of American history.

Like festivals in the US, the Naadam Festival is the ideal place to meet new people whether it is from the local communities or even fellow travelers. The festival is held during July 10-12 every year and can be integrated into a tour of the area. For those who take chance and seek out the country's festivals it can be one of the most rewarding travel experiences.

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National Geographic Adventure's Mongolian Horse Trek

March 21 (We Blog the World) Blessed indeed.  I found my way to Mongolia five years ago, this year, 2016, will be my sixth summer returning.  I remember my first trip to Mongolia, after about a week of being there when I was sitting on a log nestled in the willow trees by the river and I knew it in my bones that I'd be back, that I'd found a place so special, so magical that I'd return.

Right around Valentine's Day in 2011 I booked my first horseback riding vacation to Mongolia, signing up for National Geographic Adventure's Mongolian Horse Trek.  It would be a two week trip, starting and ending in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia's capital.  The first day was spent in the capital visiting a museum and a monastery which was lovely.  After the long flights to get to Mongolia it felt good to be on my feet walking for the day.  Prior to the trip I hadn't given much thought to Mongolia's history or religion, all I had wanted to do was ride.  I certainly knew of Chinngis Khan but on this day I learned so much more of Mongolia's rich and fascinating history.  Interesting?  Absolutely.  But get me to the horses.  The second day we left the city for Kharakhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, to visit Erdene Zuu, a Buddhist monastery.  I appreciated these two days more than I thought I would as they added to the big picture of Mongolia that would develop over the next couple of weeks.

In the late afternoon of the third day we arrived at Lapis Sky camp in the Arkhangai provence of Mongolia, east of Ulaan Baatar.  Our bus drove up to a little saddle between mountain tops and stopped.  We were told we were just about to camp and our guides suggested we walk down the other side of the saddle to the camp to stretch our legs.  Excellent idea.  As we crested the saddle and looked down at the valley below we were all completely captivated.  The crooked and narrow valley below with the river running thru the middle, lined with willows and cottonwood trees, was unbelievably beautiful.  I already wanted to stay much longer than scheduled.

The next week and half flew by, everyday was filled with something new and wonderful.  We visited nomadic families in their homes, we enjoyed a concert put on by local school children who sang and played traditional Mongolian music, we were visited by a shaman, we took photography lessons from our guide Thomas Kelly, a professional photographer, in the mornings we took yoga classes from our other guide, Carroll Dunham, we went to Naadam which is an athletic event with wrestling and horse races where children are the riders, we hiked, we fly fished…and of course we rode.

Everyday while in the countryside we rode, usually once before lunch and again after lunch.  We rode on horseback thru forests, to mountain tops with spectacular views, we crossed rivers and rode thru meadows filled with wildflowers.  We rode in a herd, the guides, the translators, the guests and six local horseman (whose horses we were riding), a large group of around twenty-five people.  We would naturally get strung out as some folks wanted to take it slow to absorb their surroundings and others would want to, as Carroll says, get their ya-yas out by going a little faster.

At Lapis Sky camp our rooms were gers, the typical, round nomadic dwellings constructed of wood, wool and canvas. They were simply furnished in traditionally painted Mongolian furniture and I found mine to be cozy and comfortable and perfect.

In the center of each ger was a fireplace which was greatly appreciated since we were living completely off the grid.  No electricity.  The staff would make fires for us in the mornings before breakfast and in the evening during dinner but sometimes I would do it myself, I appreciated the chance to reacquaint myself with building a fire and keeping it going.  The nights were chilly, the temperature would dip into the low 40's and once even into the 30's, but tucked into my down sleeping bag I was very comfortable.

We were able to keep our cameras and other various electronics charged as Thomas had a charging station set up using solar panels.  There also was no running water (which meant we had to use outhouses) but with the camp being set up next to a river we were never short on water.  In the forest was the shower, a ger with a hand-laid rock floor and a fireplace which kept the ger toasty warm and heated up the water which was put in shower bags and hung from the ceiling to use for washing up.

After a couple of days at Lapis Sky camp it was time for our horse trek.  We packed our bags and put them in the jeeps that transported them for us, said good bye to our gers, the next three nights we would be sleeping in tents. We mounted our horses and headed out.  In the next four days we would ride a round trip of over forty miles, taking one full day to enjoy the beautiful location at Mandal Mountain, a sacred mountain in Mongolia.

The day at Mandal Mountain was spent hiking to the top after breakfast and participating in a wonderfully touching and beautiful ceremony at the top led by Carroll.  After lunch there was free time to rest, relax, go fishing or ride.  This particular spot was perfect for getting in a great gallop and after a few days of getting familiar with my horse that's exactly what I did.  The last day of the horse trek, the return to Lapis Sky camp, was our thunder hoof day.  That day we rode the full 20 miles home, riding thru a canyon, over a mountain, down thru a forest and out thru a valley.  The horses were headed home and they knew it.  The day was glorious, filled with energy and spirit and lots of running.

I grew up outside of Washington D.C. riding in an arena.  I was fortunate enough to have a fabulous teacher who gave me an excellent foundation in horsemanship and riding.  I moved to Montana for University and it was there I began trail riding in the mountains.  But galloping in the countryside of Mongolia was an exhilaration I had not previously experienced.  I had certainly ridden in gorgeous places but there was something extra in Mongolia, something primal, something wild, something free.

I also fell in love with the locals.  The Mongol nomads tend to be a quiet people but they are some of the warmest and most generous people I have ever come across in all my travels.  They are proud but not arrogant.  I found sitting in their homes and talking while drinking and eating some of their traditional drinks and foods to be so comfortable and comforting.

At the end of our tour I was heartbroken to be leaving.  I had fallen so deeply in love with Mongolia – it's land, it's people and culture and it's horses.  I remained in contact with Thomas and Carroll after the tour ended and I managed to talk them into letting me return to help out for all of the next summer tours.  I suppose they found me useful as I have been returning to work every summer since.

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