EXTENSION OF THE PARTIAL UNDERTAKING OF HIGH-ALERT PREPAREDNESS
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Mongolia has imposed a strict lockdown until April 25, 2021 which was subsequently extended until May 8, 2021. During this period, only essential businesses are allowed to operate and residents are urged to access essential services, grocery stores, medical care, and pharmacies near their homes.  

April 08, 2021
INFORMATION ON LATEST PREVENTIVE MEASURES TAKEN BY THE STATE SPECIAL COMMISSION OF MONGOLIA WITH REGARD TO COVID-19

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Mongolia, the following measures will be implemented in accordance with the “Temporary regulation on quarantine measures” approved by the Head of the State Emergency Commission of Mongolia dated April 2, 2021.

1. All persons traveling to Mongolia to present negative coronavirus “COVID-19” PCR test result which is taken within 72 hours before arrival.

2. All persons arriving to Mongolia who have not been fully vaccinated against coronavirus infection (COVID-19) shall be quarantined at designated facilities for 7 days and PCR tests shall be taken on the 3rd and 6th days.

3. Quarantine will end if there are no symptoms and the results of PCR tests are negative.

4. In case PCR test results are positive, an individual shall be transferred to a hospital for treatment.

5. Persons arriving to Mongolia 14 days after receiving the full dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine or those who were diagnosed earlier with a coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and fully recovered from it shall be exempted from quarantine.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Mongolia on 25 March, 2021 has decided to extend the partial undertaking of high-alert preparedness and continue the temporary suspension of the entry of all passengers through all border checkpoints of Mongolia until 30 April 2021.

April 23, 2021
Strict lockdown extended nationwide until May 8

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. The cabinet today, April 23, convened for an irregular meeting and decided to extend the current state of 'all-out-preparedness' and associated strict lockdown measures until 6 AM, May 8, Saturday. The decision was made on the basis of suggestions from the Ministry of Health and State Emergency Commission with a view to contain the increasing COVID-19 community transmission. On April 8, the government had resolved to impose the strict lockdown measures and enter into the Red Level – Level 4 of COVID-19 emergency preparedness regime for a total of 16 days from April 10 to 25 and granted a one-time cash payment of MNT 300 thousand as part of a lockdown relief initiative. During the period now extended to May 8, only essential businesses are allowed to operate and residents are urged to access essential services, grocery stores, medical care, and pharmacies near their homes. Mongolia’s daily new COVID-19 cases have exceeded 1,000. As of April 23, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country have reached 27,956, including 24,242 cases recorded in Ulaanbaatar city and 69 coronavirus-related deaths. The public vaccination program, which was paused since April 10, has resumed today, to cover all groups of the vaccination target – around 2 million adult populations of the country.  Between April 23 and 26, people who received the first dose of vaccines and could not get the second shot on schedule due to the vaccine rollout suspension, as well as people aged over 55 will be vaccinated at a total of 160 vaccination sites. As of April 23, 649,236 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 64,469 have been fully vaccinated.Currently, Mongolia has received a total of 1,460,540 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 214,800 doses of AstraZeneca via India’s assistance and COVAX Facility, 1,200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China through donation and procurement, and 20,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccine purchased from Russia and 25,740 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine via COVAX Facility.

April 20, 2021
Standing committee on economic affairs reviewed 2020 activities of FRC

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. The Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC) is required to report annually to Parliament's Standing Committee on Economic Affairs. The Commission’s annual report for 2020 was discussed and summed up at the latest meeting of the parliamentary standing Committee on economic affairs.
The FRC monitored the activities of 3,260 regulated entities, 2,473 insurance agents, and a total of 5,733 citizens and legal entities, within the scope of its legal responsibilities. The total number of regulated entities had increased 2.5 times since 2016.
The Law on the Legal Status of the FRC, the Law on Business Licensing, and the Law on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) were amended to provide for FRC’s oversight of the related activities in non-financial businesses. To provide for the implementation of AML/CFT laws, the registration of real estate brokers and dealers in precious metals and stones was completed in 2020
Mongolia was removed from the ‘grey’ list of countries with strategic shortcomings (in CML/CFT) at the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) General Assembly on 23 October 2020. The FRC had taken measures to implement remedial tasks (assigned by the FATF) in four areas. The FRC also played an important role in Mongolia’s removal from the European Union’s ‘black’ list on 9 December 2020.
During the Standing Committee’s meeting, Mr D. Bayarsaikhan (Chairman, FRC) emphasized that the financial market had reached 15.4% of GDP in the reporting year, an increase of two percentage points from the previous year and 4.5 percentage points compared to 2016.
Some of the highlights - of each financial sector - in 2020, were as follows:
Capital market: Since 2019, it increased by 12.5% and reached MNT 3.0 trillion. Total trading volume reached MNT65.4 billion and liquidity reached 18 %. Within the market, shares accounted for 82.5%, investment funds for 7.8%, corporate bonds for 8.9% and government securities for 0.9%.
Insurance market: Since the previous year, insurance premiums increased by 2.5% to MNT201.5 billion, the reserve fund increased by 4.8% to MNT173.5 billion, and MNT59.8 billion was spent on compensation. Insurance depth (a measure of insurance coverage) reached 0.57 %, an increase of 0.01 percentage points, and insurance density increased by 0.7% from the previous year, to reach MNT61,117.
Non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs): Since 2019, the total assets of NBFIs increased by 16.0% to MNT 2.0 trillion, the number of customers increased by 2.8 million and the number of borrowers increased by 1.9 times (to 788, 100). Most (88.4%) customers and 40.0 % of borrowers, received fintech services. Outstanding loans of NBFIs reached MNT1.3 trillion, of which 84.8 % were personal loans.
Savings and credit cooperatives (SCCs): The total assets of the sector increased by 15.0% from the previous year, to MNT256.0 billion. The total number of SCCs’ members in 2020 increased by 2.4% (from the previous year) to 72,651.
Non-financial business: 167 licensed real estate brokerage companies were active in 2020. A total of 610,300 square meters of real estate worth MNT281.9 billion was sold, purchased, and transferred through intermediaries. Also, a total of 88,600 square meters of real estate - worth MNT 39.9 billion - was leased. Thirty legal entities and 399 citizens trading in precious metals and stones (or articles made from them) were operating in 2020 with licenses. The value of their operations was MNT577.0 billion in sales and MNT 624.2 billion in purchases.
Last year, the financial market faced a risky and difficult situation due to the pandemic. The FRC undertook a number of steps to implement the Ensuring Financial and Economic Stability during the pandemic of Covid-19 infection and Loan Interest Rate Reduction Strategy. For example, the Procedure for over-the-counter market was approved; to raise funding for small and medium enterprises from the over-the-counter market, by creating favorable conditions for raising funds. In addition, for the first time, market capitalization reached MNT3.0 trillion due to the dual securities registration system, which facilitates the free exchange and trading of securities between the two exchanges.
2020 also saw the successful conversion of certain shares of Erdene Resources Development Corporation JSC, which was listed on the Stock Exchange to the Canadian Stock Exchange; opening a new page in the development of the stock market.
Mr D. Bayarsaikhan (Chairman of the Commission) said that he will work to support investment. He also stated that ‘In order to continue to attract investors to the stock market, we need to improve the legal environment of investment funds and create a form for many options for legal entities. In addition, attracting large international financial institutions with high credit ratings to the market, which can have a significant impact on the development of our country's stock market’.
In connection with the FRC’s annual report for 2020, Mr J. Ganbaatar (Chairman, Standing Committee) Mr T. Dorjkhand, Mr D. Batlut, and Ms M. Oyunchimeg (members of the Standing Committee) asked questions and received comments from the leadership of the Commission.
Source: The Financial Regulatory Commission

April 15, 2021
Total foreign trade turnover reaches USD 3.5 billion

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ In the first quarter of 2021, Mongolia traded with 121 countries from all over the world, and the total trade turnover reached USD 3.5 billion, of which USD 2.0 billion were exports and USD 1.5 billion were imports.
The total foreign trade turnover increased by USD 1.3 billion (60.4%), of which exports increased by USD 964.6 million (93.1%) and imports increased by USD 362.1 million (31.2%) compared to the same period of the previous year.
In March 2021, exports and imports reached USD 665.8 million and USD 601,4 million respectively. Compared to the previous month, exports decreased by USD 28.8 million (4.1%) and imports increased by USD 138 million (29.8%). 
Bituminous coal and copper concentrates accounted for 34.3% and 33.6% of total exports to China. Bituminous coal accounted for 96.6% of goods exported to Singapore, while fluorspar accounted for 41.1% of total export to Russia.
In the first quarter of 2021, USD 964.6 million increase in exports from the previous year was resulted from MNT 269.9 million increase in copper concentrates exports and USD 439.4 million increase in coal exports. Export decreased by USD 28.8 million from the previous month, mainly due to a decrease of  USD 25.9 million decrease in copper concentrate exports.
National Statistics Office

April 12, 2021
Parliament reviews MNT 10 trillion economy recovery, health protection plan implementation

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. State Great Khural of Mongolia at its plenary session dated April 9 reviewed the ongoing implementation of the government comprehensive plan aimed at economic recovery and health protection amid the pandemic with total funding of MNT 10 trillion, as presented by Minister of Finance B.Javkhlan. 
The government planned 56 sets of measures, such as promoting manufacturers and business industries, maintaining employment, provision of housing, supporting the agricultural production and income and livelihoods of livestock herders, developing non-mining export production, and increasing loan accessibility to individuals and companies. 
The Finance Minister introduced that the comprehensive plan is designed not to pose an additional burden on the state budget and government’s debts, and the measures of loans to support employment and agricultural sector will be carried out using the sources of commercial banks’ funding with government-subsidized support for loan interests. In addition, the measures of repo financing and mortgage loans will be sourced from the central bank and commercial banks. 
The MNT 10 trillion plan also lays out actions to increase economic activity through intensifying the projects underway with the international loans and grants money and to finance development projects of Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC and other projects with benefits on the economy. 
The sets of measures of the comprehensive plan with total financing of MNT 10 trillion include: 

  1. each MNT 2 trillion financing for loan program to support employment /2021/ mortgage loan program /2021-2022/ and repurchasing financing instruments /2021/, 
  2. MNT 500 billion for agricultural loans /2021/ 
  3. MNT 1 trillion for infrastructure development of housing complexes /2021-2024/, 
  4. MNT 500 billion for youth employment training program /2021-2024/, 
  5. MNT 2 trillion for financing large-scale development projects /2021-2024/. 

During the plenary session, Minister Javkhlan introduced that thanks to the MNT 10 trillion comprehensive plan, business activities will be resumed from 2021 and the economic growth is projected to surpass 5.2 percent and reach 6 percent in 2022-2024. “The low-interest loans being granted to individual businesses and companies will help cut down on business expenses and the inflation rate is to be maintained at around 6 percent between 2022 and 2024.” 

April 5, 2021
5.1 million livestock offspring being cared nationwide

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. As of April 1, 5.2 million dams (22 percent of total 24 million) have delivered offspring. 14.8 thousand of the dams are camels, 23.8 thousand - mares, 102 thousand – cows, 2.8 million - ewes, and 2.3 million - goats.  
With 2.2 million livestock offspring delivered nationwide, the survival rate is currently at 98 percent.
The offspring delivery rate is the highest (63 percent) in Khovd aimag followed by Bayan-Ulgii aimag (56 percent) and Uvs aimag (53 percent).

April 2, 2021
Kh.Batjargal: Sustainability of development policy secured by the Constitution

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ 30 years have passed since Mongolia transitioned from a centrally planned economy into a market economy. 
There were much talks about the mistakes that were made during this time, from a political point of view —however, there has not been any conclusive discussion yet regarding fundamental economic analysis. Despite this, from the ‘Vision-2050’ long-term development policy document as well as the plans that define the development of Mongolia for the next 30 years, you will notice that the word, “economy”, is mentioned quite a bit throughout the documents. Thus, we took an interview from Chairman of the National Development Agency Kh.Batjargalabout the “blueprint” for the country’s development.
-If you consider that a country—as well as an individual is able to develop and grow based on their plans, goals, and dreams, your organization would have to be the developer of the country roadmap for development. Is this understanding correct?
-To answer your question by referring to how you defined the role as an ‘developer’ of the journey map for development, the National Development Agency is not a government institution existing only today, more specifically since Mongolia transitioned into democracy. This is due to that our organization’s history began with the establishment of the State Planning Committee per Resolution no.106 issued by the Baga Khural Presidium of the People’s Republic of Mongolia in 1945. As a result of the eight 5-year plans that were developed and implemented by the State Planning Committee in 1946-1990, our country was able to transform from a country that was mainly focused on livestock farming into an industrial country. This is a clear example of how the Mongolian economy was developed through proper planning and organization throughout the years.
-In other words, do you mean that the role to draw out the plans for Mongolia’s development has not changed despite the change in society as well as the organization’s name?
-Yes. In general, we carefully think about the distant future, considering all our opportunities and how we can fully utilize them.
- It might be a bit rude, but is there really a need to study its past history as well?
-To create an even better version, it would, of course, be impossible to define our development policy without properly looking through the history that was made by the previous generations, including the studies they conducted and the plans they developed. This is what I believe as an individual. 
Moreover, it would be wrong to be casually discussing the matter without understanding its essence and “philosophy”. At the very least, we would come across all kinds of important information as well as significant results by simply going through the available information about certain issues, such as economy, infrastructure, mining, and environment that have been passed down to us, using them as the main foundation and continuing to carry out detailed studies.
There is a saying, “Without the old, there is nothing new.” I believe that this saying alone carries a tremendous amount of power and significance. Thus, as I have mentioned before, there are times where “remembering'' certain information about all kinds of sectors can become the start of a new large scale project. In this sense, it is pointless to talk about the future without looking back on studies and research as well as past works of construction. At the very least, our ancestors naming their sites as ‘Oyutolgoi’ and ‘Tavantolgoi’ is surely not a mere coincidence.
The proof of how well grounded our ancestors’ wisdom was can be clearly seen from the names alone as well as how they both serve to be economically beneficial projects.
Aside from statistical information and studies, history—and even tales that are passed down to us through generations carry information with economic significance. Thus, it is absolutely necessary to thoroughly read as well as discuss these matters.
-Then what about the past 30 years? I have noticed that it has almost become a “trend” to yell out, “Mongolia could have become much more developed,” whenever our political situation is in a difficult spot. But if you actually listen to their discussions about what went wrong, there are barely any points that bring up a conclusion that is purely based on the economy.
- Getting a total investment of USD 28.8 billion from 123 countries since 1990 is not a bad index. But during the years when development policies used to be formulated in a 4-year cycle due to parliamentary elections, there were times when a decision would be made to further develop the animal husbandry sector, and then suddenly focus on the implementation of infrastructure projects in the next four years. I believe that the development plans for the mining sector as well as its results became unsatisfactory due to this.
Upon receiving funds, giving them directly to citizens and spreading them out thin to numerous insignificant projects would definitely have to be a mistake that was made in the last 30 years.
In order to comprehensively understand the issue rather than to make a general conclusion, I have recently been reading a lot of studies and analysis conducted by independent researchers and international organizations. For instance, the five volumes of research on development policies of Mongolia as well as their correlation and stability that was carried out by the National Development Agency with the support of the UNDP.
-What is the significance of the research? 
-I even took small notes from some of its sections. From this, it can be seen that although there has been positive changes in vision and the socio-economic situation in the last 30 years, the government and the long-term development policy continued to be unstable, with the institute in charge also having some instability. As a result, we came to have all kinds of long-, mid-, and short-term policies that have no correlation.
It is definitely a drawback that there is no state-owned professional institute in charge of providing integrated management and coordination in order to have correlation between long-term policies.  “This made it impossible to fully utilize opportunities for development through a unified policy and phased planning, and led to many socio-economic problems”, what is written here. Perhaps now you would want to ask me how it should be carried out in the future.
-Would you please answer that exact question if you don’t mind?
-To put it simply, we lacked a national research system that could explain our unique features to both domestic and foreign sides in a transparent manner based on evidence. It has become increasingly important to formulate a policy that reflects our country’s features and unique conditions based on scientific research, and build our national capacity for implementation. In short, you could say that our organization’s duties have become increasingly important. 
-To understand the concept, “National Capacity”, I assume that one would have to first understand the national development philosophy?
-Its definition merely refers to how the development goal of Mongolia has to have the citizens of Mongolia at its core. The philosophy behind national development must serve its citizens. Thus, Mongolia is faced with the necessity to enhance its development policy. Step-by-step measures are being implemented to receive the suggestions of scholars and researchers as well as involve the public in defining the policy. Although policies are formulated in order to define our goals, there is much more to be done in terms of how it is implemented.
When it comes to large-scale projects and construction work, public-private partnership or PPP is another issue that is usually brought up. There is no doubt that it is the “engine” for development alongside being a factor that accelerates the process. The government is not required to do everything that needs to be done. Even developed countries have utilized the capacity and resources of private entities to get behind large-scale projects. However, it is considered rather narrow-minded to assess partnerships through concession contracts or tenders. In other words, alongside defining our new model of development, we are also required to fully comprehend the core reason for development.
-The ‘Vision-2050’ long-term development program was formulated by a team led by Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene during his time as the Cabinet Secretariat, and approved by the parliament. Is the policy document considered as a new concept and a direction for development?
-Yes, in the sense that it is the measures to be implemented in the next 30 years, and the results to be achieved in 30 years time, ‘Vision-2050’ is definitely a policy document that will be followed in the future. 
Personally, I believe that the most important objective that is reflected in the policy document is “to create a wealthy middle class”. Even when the economy grows by 6 times than it is currently, and GDP per capita grows by 4 times by making structural changes in the economy and developing the leading sectors in the coming 30 years, the life of Mongolian citizens should still be the main topic of discussion. In this sense, our organization will formulate citizen-centered development policies in the future.
After all, all the discussions have always revolved around a certain number of mining deposits, leaving behind the matter regarding the benefits for Mongolian citizens.
-But wouldn’t the next political party to win a majority change the development policy? As a government agency in charge of defining development policies and handling the core management, is this risk being calculated by your organization?
-Of a total of 4 long-term policy documents and over 500 development policy documents formulated in the past 30 years, about 190 are currently being implemented.
As you have said, there are some that were abandoned as a result of the majority party changing. However, the ‘Vision-2050’ long-term development policy document is unique for having the foundation to be sustainably implemented until 2050.
-Why would that be the case? Would the Democratic Party implement a development program that was authored by the Mongolian People’s Party? Although it is almost embarrassing to ask about this, there have been cases where each party implemented their measures without any worries about turning organizations “red” or “blue”.
-This is due to how an amendment was made in Section 1.7 of Article 25 in the Constitution of Mongolia, which states that, “Development policy and planning shall be stable.” In other words, it serves as the “immune system” for ‘Vision-2050’ long-term policy document to be implemented for 30 years, defining the direction of Mongolian politics and economy.
Furthermore, a system was established for the types of development policy documents through the revised Law on Development Policy, Planning, and Administration that was approved by the Mongolian parliament last May, providing correlation between policies and defining the accountability system. In connection with the legal reform, policy documents are also currently being assessed. 
-What measures will be taken in regards to the about 190 policy documents that are in effect? Will they be repealed or coordinated with the others?
-In the framework of the direction given to the cabinet by the parliament, works are underway to organize the policy documents by integrating them into 7 types of mid-term development programs by receiving suggestions from corresponding ministries and organizations.
We found that each sector formulated its own policy documents.
Due to this, ministry officials tended to lose a lot of their time dealing with paperwork, working on one report to another—when in actuality, government policies are to be implemented by providing proper correlation in-between and focusing on cross-sectoral relations. And if development policies kept on being formulated separately, there would be no doubt that correlation would not exist.
Thus, in aims of eliminating policy errors and ensuring better coordination, the National Development Agency is giving special attention to the implementation of the Law on Development Policy, Planning, and Administration. 
-As a bystander, I am starting to think that people that are equipped with excellent knowledge—or one might say, “universal” employees and great bosses should work at your organization. After all, figuring out the correlation for cross-sectoral policies would have to be a rather tall task, without a doubt?
-Rather than solely being well equipped, our staff is required to have great skills and good teamwork. I believe that there must always be a policy to build the capacity of human resources by creating more opportunities for our youth that are putting all their heart and soul into their work by utilizing what they have learned as well as making more job opportunities available for those that wish to make their own contributions to the country’s development. Moreover, it should be noted that the work of integrating and assessing the policies alongside its coordination is not only limited to our employees, but also by reflecting the opinions of scholars and researchers as well as the public, introducing the result to the Government.
-During the discussion of the Revised Bill on Development Policy, Planning, and Administration, I recall a discussion that took place on the roles of the Ministry of Finance and the National Development Agency that was similar to the chicken-or-the-egg scenario. Could you elaborate more about this matter?
-As it would become a bit too philosophical if I fully delve into the matter, I apologize for not giving a proper answer. However, there has indeed been a change in the roles of the Ministry of Finance and the National Development Agency in developing the bill for the State Budget as well as the process for its approval. As a result, in the framework of the rights and obligations given by law, our employees are currently intently working on the national development plan for 2022. To put it simply, the bill was approved with the concept that the development program is required to be stable and have proper planning. 
As accordingly, the planning document is divided into three types: short, medium, and long. The annual state budget bill would be considered as a short-term planning document. More specifically, the Law on Development Policy, Planning, and Administration states that: 
- “Short-term or planning documents to be implemented in the course of one year shall include the yearly national development plan, the state budget, the yearly development plans for aimags, the capital city, and cities, and local budgets,” in Article 6.9,
- and all the requirements for yearly planning documents in Article 6.10. 
In other words, the budget must be developed in accordance with the development policy.
-What are those requirements?
-There are definite requirements including being consistent with national five-year development goals and incorporated in action programs of the government and governors and having a reliable funding source, accountability system, approved feasibility study and design plan, and an annual budget.
-NDA would not do the planning if those requirements are not met. Is that correct? 
-If we receive a proposal to construct a building in a soum, for example, we would evaluate its necessity, relevance, economic benefits, and environmental and social impacts and the local population and infrastructure capacity through specific methods before deciding on the planning. Afterwards, we would submit our plan to the Cabinet, which would be further discussed by the parliament. 
The budgeting comes after that. Simply put, the Ministry of Finance is responsible for submitting the budget to the Cabinet and then having it approved by the parliament. 
-In short, it appears there was no need to avoid the chicken-and-egg topic. Your agency is the first when it comes to budgeting, is not it?
-There is one thing to note. The budget is policy-based. We do not simply make the decision on our own after some evaluation and discussion. 
In other words, after workshops and presentation events are held among citizens, ministries, agencies, policy-makers, and local authorities, a research-based proposal is developed in light of the recommendations. Such procedure is followed not only in Mongolia. This practice is common in other countries. 
Budget gap can be avoided if a country has unified policy, related vision, and appropriately guided planning. It could also ensure effective budget expenditure and shed light on public expectations.
-Does your agency have sufficient staff to cope with such heavy workload?
-We can be likened to an overloaded truck in terms of how much workload and how many staff we have, meaning there is a deficiency. We remain an agency even though our duties and areas of responsibilities are set at the level of a ministry as reflected in law. 
-But Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene remarked the need to establish a ministry for economic development and planning from this spring when he announced the Cabinet members at the parliamentary podium, right?
-Preparations for that are underway. A parliamentary resolution has also been passed and tasks have been assigned.
-We had an equivalent ministry before. Unfortunately, it eventually ended up in court. Given that, is there any use for taking the risk of creating another one?
-In my view, having the economic development ministry and the industry ministry both was great decision, in respect of public institutions. They did start excellent policy reforms and planning in that sense, but regrettably failed to be stable, and there were also shortcomings in their legal framework.
Moreover, it was not the best thing to do for the administrative body to jump right into economic affairs when the ministry should have been making just policy. In other words, they were the ones making policy and carrying out projects, which would increase the possibility of making error in the process.
In short, if a ministry for economic development and planning is created, it should not interfere in the management of funds. 
We have learned from past experiences that over-centralization itself tends to result in principles that could devalue, waver, and disrupt the government’s goals and vision otherwise.
-People believe your organization is a public institution responsible for informing investors of practical projects and programs and promoting them in terms of their economic benefits. Notwithstanding whether NDA becomes a ministry or remains an agency, are there any projects ready for presentation to investors? Although ‘Vision-2050’ has major goals in specific areas, the projects ready to be implemented seemed to have been indicated in general terms. I am asking this for clarification as the topic is related to your agency. 
-The Parliament has approved the Investment Program for 2021-2025 developed by our agency. 
As you said, it generally sets out the economic priority sectors, involving in it value-added mining, strategic megaprojects, processing industry, agriculture, energy, transport, logistics, diversified tourism products and services, small and medium scale industries, and knowledge-based creative production as key economic sectors. 
There are goals to establish hi-tech heavy industrial facilities such as Tavantolgoi power station, Tavantolgoi coal deposits, Oyutolgoi underground mine, copper concentrate processing plant, oil refinery, metallurgical plant, gold refining plant, and power stations. 
Information technology cluster development and supporting its international expansion is also incorporated alongside many others. When it comes to implementation, however, there are issues to address.
-Could you tell me what those issues are in particular?
-Generally speaking, in implementing the projects, there has been inadequacy of complete feasibility studies that could attract investment. 
Needless to say, they would meet the national standards. However, when we present it on the international stage for investment and talk to development finance institutions and investors, none of the feasibility studies meet their requirements. Given the state budget current state, we do not have enough capacity to carry out feasibility studies of all major projects at a level that meets the requirements of international investors with funding from the budget.
Therefore, first of all we should shift to an approach of raising funds and investment through a project development mechanism and institutions. There are international good practices and experiences. If the government, private sector, and international organizations jointly implement projects through that mechanism and carry out the feasibility studies, it would be greatly beneficial in terms of both time and money. However, it is only one alternative. As can be seen from international experiences, especially when the budget is facing challenges, projects could be successfully implemented through the various types of public private partnerships that would not burden the budget.
-What you suggest is to propose all of the projects abroad in that way, as much as possible?
-The idea is to attract investment from foreign sources through public private partnerships. But another thing that should be done beforehand is to classify which projects would produce greater economic benefits if implemented first and which projects have to be implemented together in harmony. Our agency has already started this work from early on and will complete classifying major projects, which Mongolia could implement, by their infrastructure, economic, and social benefits, in the near future.
-So the agency is determining the strategic order in which the projects will be put into effect?
- It is not only the order. It could be explained as the process of prioritizing and aligning the projects and determining their funding sources and ways to implement them. Classifying is one thing, but determining how to implement them is the most important. We will soon present it to the Cabinet.
-Lately, the change of development trends has been a popular topic globally. On the other hand, we have been talking about and adopting the old approaches. We are still building railroads, while our southern neighbor is reforming its transport service with the addition of a train faster than the speed of sound. Comparing all that is upsetting sometimes, right?
-I agree on the importance of keeping up with technological advances and applying them into our activities and industries. But there are sectors that skip some stages of development and develop rapidly and sectors that must go through specific development stages. Mining, for example, has numerous factors affecting it. The same goes for agriculture. It is a different matter when it comes to the development of creative production, cultural exports, and information technology, the sectors we have started from the same ‘base line’ with the world. One thing is certain, which is that Mongolia is continuously developing. A comparison can be made with how we were a few years ago.
Besides, the fourth industrial revolution itself is requiring all countries to advance in areas of artificial intelligence, fin-tech, and cloud technology. The government of Mongolia has stated that it is committed to providing substantial support in that effort. So the development trends have already started changing. The government’s goal for implementation, prioritization, and planning of the large number of projects will be based on scientific, technological, and innovative development.
The development of the world has made it impossible to grow without science and technology. If Mongolia is left out of this trend, it will remain where it was and do nothing but wave in the direction of the other countries’ paths to development. That should not be the case. For the most part, it would be appropriate for the country to estimate its capacity and adopt a strategy of putting efforts in primary development sectors first rather than trying to bring all sectors to world-class standards.
-By that, are you referring to the goal of growing together? Mongolia has regional development commitments. It seems the subject was brought up in your previous answer.
-You asked about the philosophy of national development at the start of the interview. Then I would like to end the interview on a note about national ambitions since we have gotten onto this subject even though we did notintend.   
Mongolia’s regional development commitments should not be limited by its being entirely surrounded by land between China and Russia, but viewed in relation to the country’s position at a focal point covering a larger scope. We have to comprehensively develop transport and logistics. In my view, a free economic and a business hub to be created based on the international airport in Khushig Valley is certainly one of the major short-term goals and an opportunity to show the national ambitions to the world. 
If we leverage the opportunity for an air link between Asia and Europe that comes with our position, the country’s development ambitions could be highly recognized not only in the region, but also in the world. 
Mongolia is also committed to creating a major financial hub in Asia. In the future, we could even gain energy independence and become a key regional actor. With that, every Mongolian will have a job with a globally competitive salary and live contentedly and peacefully. Lastly, NDA is doing planning and working on planning-oriented development policy day-to-day.
-Is this how you would like to end the interview?
-This is currently all I have to say. I have successfully seized the opportunity presented by the interview. Thank you. 
G.Otgonjargal

March 30, 2021
Mongolia to produce 55 percent of petroleum consumption domestically by 2024

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Mongolia’s annual consumption of petroleum products reaches 1.95 million tons, according to the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry. The country is fully dependent on imports to meet this demand, spending around USD 1 billion annually and the petroleum consumption in a year is expected to rise to 2.5 million by 2024. 
The Mining Ministry has informed that the oil refinery development project underway by the government of Mongolia in Altanshiree soum of Dornogobi aimag with investment equal to one-year import cost of petroleum products is capable to produce 1.5 million tons of petroleum each year, including 824,000 tons of diesel, fuel, 339,000 tons of motor fuel, 80,000 jet fuel, 47,000 tons of solid fuel, 43,000 tons of liquefied gas, which are enough to provide 55 percent of total domestic consumption. 
The ongoing oil refinery project consists of development of its main technological facilities, power plant, water supply facility, loading and unloading facility, storage, reservoir, conveyer, railroad and auto road. The proect developments are continuing as per schedule, and during its implementation, the project operation is employing around 6,000 workers and once completed, the project is expected to create 600 permanent job places, according to the Mining Ministry.

February 5, 2021
Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene presents four key objectives of his Cabinet

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Regarding the appointments of members of the new Cabinet, Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene delivered a speech at the plenary session of the Parliament and introduced four goals of his Cabinet. 
At the outset of his speech, Mr. Oyun-Erdene highlighted, “Thanks to the decisive measures of 31st Prime Minister U. Khurelsukh, the air pollution of Ulaanbaatar decreased by 50 percent, and the Government reclaimed lost mineral deposits. Moreover, he started the fight for justice and set a new ethical standard in Mongolian politics.”  
“Maintaining the continuity of the Government's policy, we will complete major projects that are inseparably connected to the country's destiny, such as the oil refinery, railway projects, natural gas pipelines, the Tavan Tolgoi power plant, and the Erdeneburen hydropower plant.  
Our Government is fully aware that it is facing a lot of challenges, including the pandemic, pandemic-related global economic crisis, the problems for businesses, entities and citizens, social unrest, and the politicization around the upcoming presidential election. Therefore, let me briefly introduce four goals of our Cabinet, which will contribute to our country’s future,” said the PM.
 Objective 1. A plan to overcome the pandemic within a short time
Mongolia had prevented the spread of the COVID-19 among the community for ten months, but at last, we could not avoid this suffering. Our Government will develop a comprehensive plan to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and take immediate actions.
 Vaccinating the population is our priority. The Government will do its utmost to involve staff working in the frontline, risky groups, and the public in the WHO-approved vaccines in phases within the first 100 days of the Government.
 Prompt vaccination will help to overcome the economic and social difficulties caused by the pandemic in a short period. The Government will include in its action plan a comprehensive package of measures as stimulation for the companies, employers, and small and medium-sized businesses that were most affected by the pandemic. We will intensify the repatriation of our citizens abroad based on the recommendation of professional organizations.
 Objective 2. A plan to recover the economy
Despite the pandemic outbreak that has not occurred in 100 years, the global economy will likely have a rapid recovery after humankind overcomes the epidemic. Therefore, we must not retreat from our goals of reviving and growing our economy by being binded by our current mindset caused by the pandemic. We have to start preparing for the post-pandemic economy from now on. Even the issues of citizens’ income and employment cannot be fully resolved without economic growth. “Supposing Mongolia as a family, we annually overspend an average of USD2 billion than we earn, and 93 percent of our family’s earnings come from non-renewable resources such as coal, gold, copper and iron ore.
 To put it bluntly, if a scientific and technological solution is found to replace coal, we will not be able to pay salaries and pensions. Therefore, we must not waste any time. We would have no choice but to make bitter, difficult decisions in the economy. The economic structure, which is overly dependent on mining, needs to be changed when the mining sector is strong.
 “Therefore, the main goal is to accelerate the development of science, technology and innovation. …The scientific academies and innovation institutes will be coordinated and organized into a unified cluster to commercialize scientific discoveries. The Government will support and partner with national companies that have started successfully competing in the global market for artificial intelligence, fintech and cloud technology during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
 The National Sovereign Wealth Fund will be established to make mining revenues more profitable and distribute natural resources fairly and equitably. The Fund will have three directions of activity: accumulation, stabilization, and development. Funding for the sovereign wealth fund will come from mining royalty fees, and profits of the state-owned companies, and will be spent on promoting economic priorities and improving livelihoods.”
 “The direct profit of the strategic mining deposits will be improved. We will work closely with the Parliament to significantly improve the Oyu Tolgoi agreements and create the conditions for Mongolia to be lucrative rather than be indebted in return for the use of our resources.
 As the head of Government, I will prioritize the following sectors of the economy based on the 'Vision-2050' policy. It includes mining, processing industry, food and agriculture, energy, tourism, SMEs, transport and logistics, creative industry and information technology.”
 The Prime Minister also explained in a few words why these sectors are pointed out.
 “First of all, we need to make our natural resources become value-added. It is necessary to build plants capable of washing coal, smelting copper, refining oil, and processing iron ore. For example, a ton of coking coal at the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi mine costs USD 63, but its value rises to USD 200 after being transported and washed at Gantsmod port.  
Mongolia imports goods worth USD 6.1 billion annually, of which USD 1 billion is spent on oil products. If the oil refinery is commissioned, it will be possible to supply 70 percent and further 100 percent domestically.
 To become an industrialized country, we need to solve our infrastructure problems. The construction of the Tavan Tolgoi–Gashuunsukhait and Tavan Tolgoi–Zuunbayan railways will be completed soon. It will save USD 600-900 million a year in transportation costs and increase the total exports by about 30 percent.
 Road projects will be sorted by priority. In the first turn, projects connecting border ports and tourist routes will be implemented. It is vital for our landlocked country to develop the transportation and logistics sector as a whole.
 Today, we import 25 percent of our energy that takes an average of USD 140 million a year. To reduce this outflow, it is necessary to complete Tavan Tolgoi and Erdeneburen hydropower projects urgently and start the construction work of the Power Plant V.
 Every year, the country imports food products worth USD 605 million. Therefore, there is an urgent need to create an entirely new system of import-substituting, export-oriented agriculture and light industry. Also, it intends to build plants to process animal-related raw materials and basic transportation centers in stages.
 Throughout the world, tourism would undoubtedly be the sector that will revive the fastest after the pandemic. We need to resolve some issues without delays, such as eliminating the irresponsibility, red tape, and obstacles foreign tourists face while visiting Mongolia, establishing an e-Embassy, issuing e-visas, and liberalizing air transportation.”
 The PM also said that a creative economy based on the country’s history and rich cultural heritage would be developed. In this context, the management of the Ministry of Culture will be elevated to a new level, bringing culture, arts and cinematography to the global level and making it economically efficient.
 Councils of economy, entrepreneurs and foreign investment promotion will be formed under the Prime Minister. Moreover, a Ministry of Economy and Development will be established, said the PM.
 Objective 3. The new system to support the middle class
"The last 30 years gave us many values, such as human rights, freedom, press freedom, a multiparty parliamentary system, and the market economy. Despite all this, the gap between the rich and the poor increasingly grew, resulting in income inequality, the flourishing of the underground economy, and the loss of social justice. It is the harsh truth that 28.4 percent of the total population or about 1 in 3 people currently lead a below-average life. The inclusive growth of the economy should only be measured by positive changes in the quality of life. Yet, the government has not been able to bring such changes to the citizens’ quality of life.
 The moving force of society– citizens with average income are currently in quite a bit of a predicament. In order to transition into a completely new system that supports average income citizens and create a society largely consisting of the wealthy middle class, the most important issue is apartments and urban development. In the coming three years, the Government will carry out a project on the construction of ‘Youth I, II, III’ complex apartments with a unified blueprint, resolving the new financing model for income-based apartments by transitioning into the system of a unified savings fund."
 "The second important factor in creating a society mainly consisting of the wealthy middle class is quality education. Although the intellectual capacity of Mongolian children ranks 7th in the world, Mongolia ranks 49th for the ability to utilize intellectual capacity, 59th for home-grown talent, and 111th for its know-how. Thus, special focus will be given to matters including comprehensive education in developing into a model Mongolian citizen, proficiency in the use of the Mongolian language and script, the quality of training in urban and rural areas, increasing the competitiveness of universities and colleges by merging them, and the preparation of world-class citizens. A scholarship named after the Prime Minister will be annually announced, and importance will be given to preparing the new generation that is necessary for Mongolia. The cabinet will present the Package Laws on Education Renewal before the spring session of the parliament."
 "Cases for cardiovascular diseases and cancer are common in Mongolia. Experts explain the causes for this being due to how citizens are not diagnosed early as well as their unhealthy lifestyles. Thus, we must quickly implement a system that annually involves all citizens in a comprehensive health checkup. In the coming four years, the construction for the National Organ Transplant Center, the National Cardiovascular Center, the Burn Center, and the National Cancer Center will take place. With its completion, it becomes possible to reduce the annual amount of costs being spent on receiving medical treatment abroad–USD 100-120 million by 30- 40 percent. We need a new culture that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle. We need an education system that helps children acquire a proper understanding of the immune system and nutrition comprehensively from a young age.
 The time has come for us to correct our unhealthy mindset and create a national culture that fights against obesity. Furthermore, several crucial issues such as the transition from welfare to labor, increasing the participation of women in the labor market, and creating a specialized bank and financing system will be resolved in phases to create a national system to support citizens in the middle class."
 Objective 4. Justice and online governance
"Today, our country ranks 111th for its corruption perception. It is apparent that the underlying factor causing this is bureaucracy and the political system filled with corruption. Thus, the work to create a fair justice system where no one is persecuted or wrongfully convicted will be comprehensively supported. Those that wish to indirectly control the state will be faced head-on.
 Henceforth, we will aim to reform the corresponding legislation to create the classical parliamentary system in Mongolia by carefully discussing the matter with political parties. By developing laws on the protection of whistleblowers, the financing of political parties, and civil service ethics will be as according to international legal standards and making amendments to the Law on Anti-Corruption, the appropriate legal environment will be created to monitor whether state servants have expenses above their income as well as whether they are incorrectly declaring their assets and income."
 "The work to create a “digital” nation will be actively carried out. All forms of public services will be made available through the E-Mongolia electronic platform. In order to have this transition conducted up till 90 percent in 2021-2024, a specialized ministry will be established on digital development. This will not create any more job opportunities—rather, it is the only solution to reducing the overlap of staff at all levels, reducing the numbers by 30-40 percent. Electronic signatures will be introduced, and the privacy of personal information will be ensured through law. As a result, bureaucracy will be reduced, and less time will be necessary in acquiring the services."
 "In order to create good governance, the Government will closely cooperate with the “Fourth Estate”–the press and media. Works will be carried out in respect to the citizens’ right to be informed, upholding the freedom of press. Factual information will be given regarding major issues that bring out debate and uncertainty in the public, supporting a more research-based approach to matters and open, transparent cooperation."
 "We will openly and actively cooperate with our eternal two neighbors as well as other countries of the world in all sectors. In today’s world of globalization, the national mindset, way of living, and unique features will be valued, protecting our national identity and organizing pro- motional works about Mongolia to the world on the large scale. I also believe that an institute for national policy should be established consisting of all previous Prime Ministers. Our cabinet will continue to implement appropriate, applicable policies that were implemented by all previous governments."
 "Citizens are the foundation of the state. It is the duty of a democratic government to protect civil rights. By having it as a requirement for state servants at all levels to be knowledgeable about civil rights, special emphasis will be placed on their sense of duty to serve citizens and protect their rights. A culture to be ethical, humane, disciplined, and assessed based on performance as well as being held accountable for one’s actions at each level will be introduced in civil service."
 “I perceive my appointment as the Prime Minister of Mongolia being in the first year of the implementation of ‘Vision-2050’ long-term development policy, which also happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Revolution, and the 30th anniversary of the Democratic Revolution, as a historically significant responsibility.
 Just like how our ancestors were able to change the world’s history in 30 years, may our country lead in the region for its social development, economic growth, and quality of life in the coming 30 years,” noted PM Oyun-Erdene

November 29, 2020
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. At its irregular meeting held today at 5 pm, the Cabinet made a decision to extend the period of strict-lockdown in Ulaanbaatar city, Arkhangai and Selenge aimags, where the spread of COVID-19 still exists, by 10 days, until December 11.  
However, 18 types of businesses and services are allowed to run their operations, after being registered and getting QR code. Manufacturing or processing businesses such as printing houses, packaging, wood processing and construction material plants,  and distribution services, e-trading as well as banking businesses are added to the  previously permitted businesses which include food stores and supermarkets, food manufacturers, food distribution, gas stations, fuel suppliers, public toilets, disinfection and sterilization places, livestock fodder suppliers, hospitals, courts and prosecution offices, pharmacies, power stations, communications and media, special services, state-owned organizations of particular and strategic importance, and funeral services.   As for the aimags which took the spread of the virus under control, such as Orkhon, Gobisumber, Dornogobi and Darkhan-Uul and other non-infected aimags, the strict-lockdown have been lowered by one stage or to the heightened state of readiness for disaster protection . Businesses and other activities except public events, school and kindergarten and entertainment activities, in those aimags will be able to be carried normally under high infection control. 

November 11, 2020
INFORMATION ON LATEST PREVENTIVE MEASURES TAKEN BY THE STATE SPECIAL COMMISSION OF MONGOLIA WITH REGARD TO COVID-19 /2020-11-11/
In order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Mongolia, the State Emergency Commission has decided on 11 November, 2020 to take the following measures:

1. All outbound traffic, including passenger transportation, private vehicles, scheduled domestic flights and passenger trains, leaving Ulaanbaatar city will be temporarily suspended from 2 am, 11 November, 2020 until 11pm, 13 November, 2020.

2. All levels of educational institutions such as schools, universities and vocational training centers in Ulaanbaatar will be closed from 11 November, 2020 until 14 November, 2020.

3. All entertainment activities and events, public gatherings, conferences, cinemas, sports and cultural events, gaming centers, playgrounds and all types of children’s activities in Ulaanbaatar city will be temporarily suspended.

November 30, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Mongolia has decided to extend the partial undertaking of high-alert preparedness and continue the temporary suspension of the entry of all passengers through all border checkpoints of Mongolia until 31 December, 2020.

RESUMING ISSUANCE OF DIPLOMATIC, OFFICIAL AND BUSINESS VISAS
The Consulate has started resuming issuance of diplomatic, official and business visas. (categories D, A and B respectively). The visas will be issued only to applicants holding official approvals issued by relevant authorities (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and Immigration Agency of Mongolia). Please note that all travellers to Mongolia from overseas will be required to undergo a 21-day quarantine period at a government-monitored quarantine facility, expenses of which should be born by the traveller or inviting Mongolian party.
As Mongolian borders are closed until 31 December 2020, arrivals are only possible through Government organized charter flights.
The Consulate also advises that the diplomatic and official visas obtained may be extended for of 30 days by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and business visas by the Immigration Agency of Mongolia.

March 23, 2020.
In response to the global wide and rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the following restriction will be undertaken by the Decision No. 102 of the Government of Mongolia issued on March 22, 2020:

  1. To extend the partial undertaking of high-alert preparedness until April 30, 2020;

  2. To temporarily suspend entry of all passengers through all border checkpoints until April 30, 2020;

These restrictions do not apply to:

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MONGOLIA

Gozco Building 8th floor, Jl. Raya Pasar Minggu Kav. 32
Pancoran, Jakarta 12780, Indonesia
Open hours: Monday-Thursday (8.00 am - 12.00 pm)
Tel:         +62 21 2975 5555 (ext. 8801)
Fax:        +62 21 2975 5556

July 28
Ch.Batzaya: Eagle-holding Kazakh man on horseback, towering Altai Mountains perfect combination.

The Kazakh people in Mongolia are one of very few nations left in the world who are still practicing the ancient art of hunting with eagles until today. Mongolia’s eagle hunting and the Golden Eagle Festival have been a great attraction for the increasing number of foreign travelers to Mongolia. Photographer Ch.Batzaya, who has been promoting this unique traditions of the Kazakh people to Mongolian people and the world through his series of photographs, spoke about his own experience with the eagle hunting culture.

- Let’s start our talk with your story of how you became a photograph? When did you start your photography career? 

- I am originally from Zavkhan aimag. I started working as a tour guide in 1998, setting my foot in the tourism industry, which requires photography interests and skills from all people working in it. First of all, when I needed photographs about Mongolia for my company’s webpage and introduction, I had to ask from my friends or foreign tourists who travelled in Mongolia, which sometimes happened to not meet my expectations when it comes to their quality and contents. Secondly, I traveled across the Sahara Desert in the Western Africa to return with many great photos taken using an advanced compact camera I took with me. The compliments given by my families and friends to those photos inspired me to take more photos. Not to mention that the widespread use of social media platforms in recent years is helping photographers to promote their works and grow. What I started doing for job has become my hobby now. I would describe myself a person who fell in love with photography.  

- What kind of photos do you take mostly? 

- I used to take natural landscape photos at the outset, which helped me to learn about photography.  Then, I started doing themed-photographs, focusing on travelling and livelihood photos, such as, a life in the Taiga. Over the past several years, I have been capturing wildlife, which is not an easy genre as it takes a lot of courage, determination, labor and costs expensive. For instance, I travelled to Bayan-Ulgii aimag six times in total, tracing down the animals and studying their lives. Despite the fact that numerous of my travels turned to failed attempts, I manage to document the whole natural landscape, domestic lives and surrounding areas, not only the animals. I am pretty happy that I did manage to capture very rare snow leopards.

- I spotted a large number of photos of eagles, an idol for the Kazakh people among your photos posted on social media. Why did you choose this theme? 

- World countries are taking advantage of their uniqueness and national identity to promote themselves and attract attention of others.  Foreigners are hugely interested in the mysterious identities, wilderness livelihoods of the nomadic Mongolians, not only the beautiful nature of Mongolia. Therefore, I have been taking photos for my photography series called “Eagle”, which is one of the national identities of our country. I have been taking snaps of eagle, eagle hunters and eagle festival over the past decade, witnessing the transformation of the lives of those people. How faces of them changed and their life story over the recent 10 years are preserved in my computer. 

- A lot of people are currently engaged in eagle photography. What are the specific characters of your photos?

- As a person in tourism, I have many close Kazakh friends. A significant number of tourists travelling to Mongolia come to see the western Altai region of Mongolia and experience the lives, culture and tradition of the Kazakh people. I believe that the Kazakh people have well-preserved their wonderful tradition of falconry. A Kazakh man on horseback holding his eagle and towering mountains of Altai are perfect combination. The region the eagles and their hunters are living in favorable environmental conditions suited to them is another advantage. The magnificent mountains, eagles, horses and the fearless Kazakh men dressed in their traditional clothing are the essence of my photographs. I enjoy shooting high-speed photographs, capturing the best moment from various extremely short scenes that would otherwise be missed.

- What is your message you wish to convey through your photos? 

- Mongolia, the country made of many ethnic groups and nationalities, has its own unique qualities and invaluable history and culture. The Kazakh people and their eagles are one of them. I aspire to do my own contribution to promote and preserve this wonderful culture as a person working for the tourism industry and a photographer.  I would like to take this moment and applaud the eagle hunter Aisholpan, who played an important role in bringing the eagle festival and the eagle hunting culture under the global spotlight. It is certain that most of the tourists in Bayan-Ulgii aimag are those who are coming to see the home of the Aisholpan girl and her eagle hunting culture. If we can succeed promote this culture and tradition, a lot of people will be attracted to our country.

- Have your photos about eagle about been published on foreign media outlets? 

- Dozens of eagle photographs I took have been published by foreign media. Some of the first eagle photos captured in 2015 were published in many foreign newspapers and webpages, such as Daily News, Telegraph and Yahoo News, etc. Most recently, my photo of an eagle hunter Asalbek was featured on the cover of an in-flight magazine of Lufthansa, one of the world’s largest airlines, in December 2019 along with more than ten other photos about eagles and an article. Another photo “Eagle Hunter” appeared on the November 2018 edition of Telegraph newspaper. 

- I heard that you are working to release your independent works under the theme of eagle. Can you please give us more information? 

- In the past several months, I have been working to publish my own photography book about the eagle and the culture of hunting with eagles. I happen to have collected a large amount of information and photos over the past decade. Around 200-page photography book will be published in English language, containing photos of courageous eagle hunters Zhenisbek from Sagsai soum; already-famous Aisholpan girl, eagle hunter Shaimurat from Altantsogts soum and other eagle hunters as well as their life stories and efforts to carry on with and pass onto this traditional culture to their next generations. We are also looking for a partner to work together on my book’s Kazakh version as I wish to demonstrate how this tradition of eagle hunting is preserved by the Kazakh people in Mongolia to all Kazakhs around the world. 

- As a person who work closely with locals in Bayan-Ulgii aimag, what kind of opportunities do you see to develop tourism industry there? 

- Bayan-Ulgii aimag, with the Altai Mountains and the unique culture of the Kazakh people, is a must-see on any Mongolian itinerary. There are some problems concerning its infrastructure due to its remote location. The growing number of tourists heading to Bayan-Ulgii aimag is followed by the expansion of hospitality industry in the area. In addition, the Eagle Festival has already grown to become a great attraction of foreign tourists to the area. However, there is an indispensable need to improve service quality and management and introduce much-needed standards in the tourist industry to accommodate domestic and foreign tourists.  

- Thank you for taking the time to give us an interview. 

Interview by U.Nurbolat
Baljmaa T.
Montsame Agency

July 8, 2020
New Cabinet Ministers Appointed.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. The Parliament of Mongolia today, July 8, approved new members of the cabinet, presented by Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh, yesterday July 7. The Steering Committee of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, which holds majority or 62 seats in the 76-seat parliament - State Great Khural, convened on July 7, to approve the list of ministers to nominate for the cabinet. 
This is the first time Prime Minister of Mongolia appointing ministers of the cabinet in accordance with the recent amendments to the Constitution of Mongolia, which were adopted on November 14, 2019. The parliament, on July 7, approved the cabinet to have a total of 14 ministries, including 6 ministries of general function and 8 sectoral ministries. The newly-appointed cabinet members are:  

As the Constitution of Mongolia reads, a member of the government shall be appointed or dismissed after presenting to the State Great Khural and President of the Mongolia, Prime Minister Khurelsukh presented the new ministers to President Kh.Battulga today, and afterwards, the ministers took the oath to the Parliament during today’s plenary session of the parliament. 
Also the Constitution now allows only Prime Minister and up to 4 members of the government to hold the position of parliament member concurrently and to comply with this, following four members of the 17 ministers are current members of the parliament.  

•           Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Sarangerel 
•           Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs Kh.Nyambaatar 
•           Minister of Finance Ch.Khurelbaatar 
•           Head of Cabinet Secretariat, Minister L.Oyun-Erdene 
When appointing the cabinet members, it is said the principle to fill the positions with professional appointment based on the nominees’ qualifications and professional standards has been followed. 
Baljmaa T.

June 29, 2020
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION 2020 RESULTS

The General Election Commission of Mongolia concluded that the 8th parliamentary – State Great Khural election was held in accordance with the Constitution of Mongolia, the Law on Central Election Authority, the Election Law of the State Great Khural, the Law on Automated Electoral System and other relevant laws.
The official results are as follows: the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) won the majority or 62 seats out of 76, while the opposition Democratic Party (DP) gained 11 seats and the remaining three seats were taken up by an independent N.Altankhuyag (former Prime Minister and DP leader), T.Dorjkhand, leader of the “Right Person Electorate Coalition” (National Labor Party, Mongolian Social Democratic Party and Justice Party) and S.Ganbaatar, Vice Chairman of the “Our Coalition” (Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party, Civil Will-Green Party and Mongolian Traditional United Party) respectively.
The 2020 parliamentary election was conducted in a new legal setting with a multi-mandated and enlarged constituency, where 13 parties, 4 coalitions, 121 independents, a total of 606 candidates running.
Out of 2,003,969 eligible voters 1,475,895 or 73.65 percent participated in the election, which marked the largest voter turnout since 2000.
Out of the newly elected MPs, 13 or 17.1 percent of the total seats will be held by female members.

In accordance with the Election Law of the State Great Khural, the General Election Commission will submit the official results of the parliamentary election to the President of Mongolia and the Speaker of the State Great Khural, after issuing temporary validation cards for the newly elected members of the Parliament on 29 June, 2020.

May 21, 2020
Coal export limping back, but “normal” is far off
B.Tugs

Note: All figures in this report are from data released by the National Statistics Office and cover the period 1 January to 15 April.
Mongolia’s total foreign trade turnover reached $2.54 billion, a drop of 30.9% YoY.  Exports accounted for $1.18 billion of this and imports for $1.36 billion, down 43.7% and 13.7% respectively. The foreign trade deficit of $175.9 million was mainly because of the dramatic decline in mineral exports.
The last days of the period under review showed some improvement in coal and oil exports, but this is only when they are seen against the situation in most of March, when exports were almost stopped. Any return to the pre-pandemic levels is still a long way off. 
Mongolia exported 3.52 million tonnes of coal, which is 62.4% or 5.85 million tonnes less YoY. Coal exports, which had been suspended since February 10 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, resumed gradually or step by step in March. Export through the Zamyn-Uud port started on March 5, through Gashuunsukhait on March 23, and through Shiveekhuren port on March 30. In March, only 341,000 tonnes were exported while the first 15 days of April saw 400,000 tonnes of coal cross the border. It is unlikely that exports would be even close to the previous two years’ high figures, and that means much revenue would be lost. Export earnings from coal so far have reached $284 million, some $500 million less than expected.
The corresponding loss from copper concentrate export has been $184 million. Here also, the export volume has decreased but even then copper is now the leading mineral export product in terms of value. Export of copper concentrate reached 359,400 tonnes and earned about $410 million. That’s a 15% drop in volume and 31% drop in revenue. The significant decline in gold content in Oyu Tolgoi’s concentrate this year and the slowdown of transportation have caused the decrease. Prices have fallen by about 20 percent since the beginning of the year. Refined copper exports rose 18.4% YoY in volume to reach 3,600 tonnes, but revenue increased by only 7.3%.
Iron ore exports have been going up and reached 2.4 million tonnes, earning $164.5 million -- a 3% drop YoY in volume and 23% increase in revenue. Exports of zinc ore and concentrate and molybdenum concentrate all declined. Exports of fluorspar ore and concentrate increased in volume, but both earned less.
Crude oil exports rebounded from 34,600 barrels in March to 37,600 barrels in the first 15 days of April but income was down 82% or by $84 million YoY. 
The central bank’s gold purchase has increased significantly, but there has been no export since 1.6 tonnes in February.

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