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http://zgm.mn/post/615/

Landlocked countries Think Ahead

​There are 32 countries with the status of Landlocked Developing Countries​

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http://zgm.mn/post/615/

An opening ceremony for an intergovernmental organization, the International Think Tank for the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC) was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia.In 2006, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries initiated to found the International Think Tank center in Ulaanbaatar. At the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Battsetseg Batmunkh noted: “The International Think Tank center in Ulaanbaatar would have a great impact on the economic and social development and the country’s reputation in the international arena, as it is the first international and intergovernmental organization in Mongolia. Thanks to the cooperation and efforts of the Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and diplomats of Mongolia, the United Nations included the initiative to open the International Think Tank center in Ulaanbaatar into its resolutions and other documents. During the UN’s General Secretary’s visit to Mongolia in 2009, the International Think Tank center was officially founded. There are 32 landlocked developing countries. In terms of development, landlocked countries are more aggravated compared to coastal developing countries, studies say. Currently, the agreement on opening the International Think Tank for the Landlocked Developing Countries has been adopted by the countries including Armenia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Paraguay, Tajikistan and Ethiopia. We are calling on the other 20 countries to adopt this document”. The Director of the International Think Tank for the LLDC in Ulaanbaatar Odbayar Erdenetsogt said: “The International Think Tank for LLDC’s main goal is to study difficulties and challenges facing the LLDC and draw international experiences and lessons in this field. The International Think Tank aims at strengthening the development and reducing the poverty in LLDC, through training cadres and improving economic competitiveness”. Three years have passed since the International Think Tank for the LLDC in Ulaanbaatar started its operation. During this period, we studied the direct investment impact on the economy, particularly in the mining sector, in the case of Laos. Through this study, we tried to evaluate the role of the foreign direct investment in joining the regional integration. According to the study result, it was clear that the foreign direct investment did not make a quite positive impact on the Laos economy”.


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IAAC discloses violations in SME Development Fund

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On the occasion of the upcoming international Anti-Corruption Day, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) held a discussion under the theme “Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Development Fund: Issue and Solution” yesterday. At the discussion, the IAAC disclosed some  of the inspection results on SME Development Fund. 

A spokesperson of the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) said, "SMEs play significant role in food, agriculture and light industry sector, as well as business activation. For instance, SMEs account for 60,330 out of about 78,000 private entities with active operations. These companies employ 43 percent of total workforce.” 

Statistics show that SMEs amount to 17.6 percent of Mongolia’s GDP and 2.3 percent of export. As of today, over 900,000 people are employed by SMEs. 

The Government, under the 2016-2020 Platform Program, is implementing both financial and non-financial measures to develop SMEs. As for financial support, the Government granted MNT 835.1 billion worth soft-loans to 7,536 lenders from the SME Development Fund since 2009, as well as MNT 130.6 billion from Local Development Funds to 7,536 borrowers. 

On the contrary, the accessibility to SME Development Fund stands at about 20-30 percent according to Deputy CEO of Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) Sarandavaa Myanganbuu. “SMEs have to prepare over 30 different documentations from nine Government bodies and go through 36 processes just to draw loan from SME Development Fund. In average, SMEs spend MNT 200,000 - MNT 1.5 million and 33 days just to request a loan. About 60 percent of loan issuers are small loan requesters of up to MNT 100 million.”  

Furthermore, Mr. Sarandavaa disclosed that State and ministry officials account for 80 percent of total SME Development Fund loaners. “Previous lessons show that financial support alone is not enough to develop SMEs. They need consultative services that will coordinate their projects with the possibility of success. A study conducted in 2017 that involved over 2,500 SMEs suggested revision to Laws on tax, labor and SMEs. Also, it shows that the current legal environment has the highest pressure on middle-sized enterprises,” addressed Mr. Sarandavaa.

In addition, the IAAC has conducted an inspection on SME Development Found and found five violations, which were disclosed at the discussion. These are: 

Granting loans without proper selections; 

High-risks on the repayment of granted loans;

Loan issuance to unclear project implementation date;

No penalties to overdue repayments;

Lack of monitoring and accountability. 

Participants also highlighted the lack of transparency of information on project loans, which grants more accessibility to people close to the information.

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Parliament fails to form quorum as MPs boycott Speaker

Four MPs stage sit-in to demand self resignation of Speaker

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Parliament was scheduled to appoint the next Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, and discuss the amendments to the Minerals Law at its plenary session yesterday; however, both discussions had to be postponed due to failure to form quorum as four Members of the Parliament (MPs) staged a sit-in and demanded Speaker Enkhbold Miyegombo to submit his resignation letter. Blaming the absentees for interfering with the continuity of Parliament operation, MP Enkh-Amgalan Luvsantseren requested the Parliament to issue a demand to MPs that were not present at the session. 

A quorum is reached when at least 39 out of 76 parliamentarians attend the session. However, 40 MPs submitted a petition to not attend plenary sessions until the Parliament Speaker resigns from his position last month. Continuing on to the next stage of protest, MP Bold Luvsanvandan, Batzandan Jalbasuren, Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai and Ayursaikhan Tumurbaatar staged a sit-in; thus, the Speaker received the four members to listen to their demand. The protesting MPs stressed, “We are organizing a sit-in because we think the Parliament Speaker has violated the Constitution. The evidence of Mongolian People’s Party authorities discussing to selloff public positions to raise MNT 60 billion was disclosed during the 2016 Parliamentary Election. Speaker Enkhbold was involved in the case and we perceive you are unqualified to act as the Parliament Speaker. If you do not, we will move onto the next stage of protest.”

• A quorum is reached when at least 39 out of 76 parliamentarians attend the session. 

• MPs refuse to attend plenary session over Speaker's involvement with MNT 60 billion sell-off case. 

• Speaker expresses willing to take responsibility after the court rules against him.

Speaker Enkhbold responded, “The law clearly states five instances of ousting the Parliament Speaker. You need to address the issue in accordance with the law of Mongolia. Regarding the MNT 60 billion sell-off case, I am not against organizing a public hearing; however, it is not possible to hold a public hearing on a case that is currently under investigation. The President also submitted a request to the Constitutional Court. I am willing to take any responsibility after the court ruling.” With the failure to form a quorum, the Parliament decided to postpone several items on the order paper. Thus, the Parliament is expected to discuss the appointment of the Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry, as well as the Minerals Law, which is expected to extend 2.5 percent gold royalties for five years, today.

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RSPCA to address animal welfare in Mongolia

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From when I was a little girl, I have had a deep compassion for how animals are treated and how we take care of them. A passion that was instilled in me by my parents who taught me the values and importance of showing empathy and compassion for all sentient beings. 

My name is Tina Terblanche a British Citizen based in Ulaanbaatar due to my husband’s work. I have worked with animals most of my adult life working in South Africa as an Animal Welfare Inspector and Chairperson for the SPCA-Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, manager of a project breeding disease-free buffalo and working in veterinary clinics in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and Cyprus all the while gaining invaluable knowledge and skills that have served me well throughout my career in animal welfare.

For the past eight months I have facilitated a visit for the Head of RSPCA International (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Paul Littlefair and David Coggan RSPCA Humane Education Consultant who are scheduled to arrive in Mongolia on Sunday 9th December 2018 to commence a five-day first-time exploratory visit to Ulaanbaatar. 

RSPCA dates to almost 200 years ago when in 1822, United Kingdom became the first country in the world to have a Law passed by the Houses of Parliament - an Act to prevent the cruel and improper treatment of cattle. In 1824 the world’s first animal welfare charity was founded which later in 1840 was granted its Royal status by Queen Victoria to become the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as it is known today. To date RSPCA is one of the world’s oldest and largest animal welfare organizations and one of the largest charities in the United Kingdom. 

RSPCA International develop and deliver animal welfare education programs to schools, universities and community groups educating children, students, professionals, school heads and teachers. Working with Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment supporting and providing resources on farm animal health, wildlife conservation management, animal welfare management, stray animal, research and laboratory animals, food and public safety and sustainable agriculture and environment. 

This exploratory visit will include meetings with Government officials including Ministers as well as animal related NGO’s and heads of schools and universities. RSPCA International look forward to this opportunity to share their experiences and explain the science of their educational process gathered through existing Animal Welfare Education programs that they carry out in around 20 countries across Europe, Africa and Asia including China, Taiwan and Korea.

Science has provided evidence that animals are sentient beings and has demonstrated their emotional, cognitive and behavioral capacities proving that animals experience feelings as well as the ability to suffer emotionally and physically through cruel or unkind treatment. 

Animals across the world are valued components of communities providing food, clothing, companionship and transportation and in Mongolia animals are not only economically but also culturally and traditionally very significant. They are among the leading elements that define Mongolian identity and lifestyle. Societally such important, they constitute a major source of national income. Therefore, education about and arrangements for animal welfare are prominent for Mongolia and Mongolians. Animal Welfare Education develops an understanding of animal sentience which will help to facilitate positive attitudes and behavior towards animals. 

We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Ahmet Yazal the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey for his invaluable assistance, advice and support in this project and for opening his doors of the Turkish Embassy to conduct the meetings. And to the Kempinksi Hotel Khan Palace for generously and kindly offering sponsorship of accommodation and breakfast for the RSPCA International Officials. 

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Cabinet raises mortgage financing and keeps interest at 8 percent

Cabinet resolves to annually finance MNT 500 billion for mortgage

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At its regular session yesterday, the Cabinet approved the revision to the mortgage program. Interest rate remained unchanged at 8 percent and the program will be financed from the State Budget and the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) Officials highlighted that the annual financing for the program, which was MNT 300 billion, will be increased to MNT 500 billion. Funding for the mortgage loan will be reflected in the state budget and will be distributed to commercial banks through the BoM under trilateral contract between the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the BoM.

Furthermore, the revision will forbid commercial banks from spending the program funding for different purposes, rejecting loan requests on groundless basis and establishing mortgage agreement that prevents citizens from settling the debt before due. The loan will be issued for apartments not bigger than 80 square meters, built in accordance with general urban development plan of local municipality. Mortgage revision also allows loan access up to MNT 60 million for individuals in building a private house not bigger than 120 square meters and energy efficient with essential engineering. Maturity of the loan will be not more than 360 months with an annual interest of eight percent and minimum downpayment of 30 percent of total price. Loan-to-value ratio must not be higher than 70 percent. The lender must be over 18 years of age and legally capable, who has no outstanding loan debts or payables that must be repaid in compliance with court decisions, must be a first-time buyer and have a collateral to receive mortgage. As of September, a total of MNT 233 billion worth mortgage was issued to over 2,700 borrowers.

IMF PROGRAM PREVENTS MORTGAGE INTEREST REDUCTION


After the session, Minister of Construction and Urban Development Badelkhan Khavdislam held a press conference and commented on the Government’s inability to reduce mortgage loan interest rate and downpayment. “Due to our involvement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, we are in no position to reduce down payment and interest rate of mortgage program.

• Mortgage program will be financed from the State Budget and commercial banks. 

• The revision allows loan access up to MNT 60 million for building a private house not bigger than 120 square meters. 

• Loan conditions to ease in 2020 after the program is transferred to Ministry of Finance from BoM.
As negotiated with the IMF, the program will be transferred from the BoM to the Ministry of Finance on January 1, 2020. Loan conditions could be eased off when it happens,” addressed Mr. Badelkhan. He highlighted that the revision focuses more on housing ger district households as it will allow loan access to people who are willing to construct accommodation specified by the general urban plan and first-time buyers will only be able to purchase accommodation built within the frame of city replanning. According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Finance and BoM in May,

● 42,000 people are currently looking for rental apartments, 

● 33,000 people in UB are willing to purchase accommodation with 30 percent downpayment and 14,000 in other provinces. As of September, a total of MNT 115 billion has been financed from the state budget and MNT 220 billion from the BoM to finance the mortgage program.