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http://zgm.mn/post/2620/

Mongolia’s economy needs diversification

30 years pass without the freedom of development

Mongolia’s economy needs diversification
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http://zgm.mn/post/2620/


Mongolia’s unique feature or a particular thing that differentiates the country from others? Our special feature is a democracy and freedom of the press. Indicators of democracy are great enough. On papers and international reports, Mongolia is a beautiful country like a rose, a brilliant star of democracy. In reality, it is completely different.

Democracy is being separated from real life. It has been 30 years without a “freedom of development.”

Let us continue with the corruption-filled series of poverty alleviation of Mongolians, the emergence of populism, the issues in the independence of the judiciary, the obstacles of public institutions, and the societal stresses. Poverty did not improve significantly since 1995. Discussions on necessary improvement began in the XXI century. There are still no results. I am writing to make a conclusion about it.

Our economy needs only a few important factors. Let us look at the economy at a macro level. Only the mining sector growth is visible, but it is accounting for a big part of the economy. However, it is not a good thing in the long term as a macroeconomy. Why does the mining growth affect the economy? The IMF has implemented six programs in our country. IMF recommends that more flexible, budget-free economy and more importantly, higher employment, and profitable businesses. In the 1990s, the transition program was successful. The “Stand by” program has helped a lot in 2008-2009 during the global economic crisis. The next program started in 2016-2017. There is a light. The debt burden equaled 100 percent of GDP, which now stands at 70 percent. Mongolia has a GDP of USD 11 billion. The IMF’s sustainable development program is worth 5.5 billion. The economic growth has fallen from 17 percent to negative 2 percent when the IMF’s sustainable development program started. What has saved us improved the economy is actually the growth of China’s coal imports.

Our economy is dependent on many things. The infrastructure is not developed enough. Until now, almost 3 percent of the 1000 km of the road had pavement, the only line of the north-south railway, which is dependent on Russia’s geopolitics. When we try to build another railway, we will have to deal  with Russia’s geopolitical interest. As long as we have Ulaanbaatar Railway JV, there will be Russian interests. I do not want to blame it.

However, the multi-pillar foreign policy choice is invoking to be friendly with all countries around the world. There is no such relationship with all countries. Also, there is no noticeable economic relationship improvement with any country. Although it is the world’s least densely populated area, Mongolia is clumping in the capital. Huge social issues are created because of this.

The dissociation had already processed and different social conditions are growing rapidly. Social licensing issues are serious. Anti-mining conflicts and disputes tend to rise in mining-dependent countries, and civil movements trigger social disintegration. Even with 70 million livestock, agriculture does not strengthen social capital. Mining has also dominated other sectors, which is a negative impact. We only talk about a single line of cashmere to improve the non-mining sector. There is no ongoing activity in the development of rural areas and the overall turnover of agriculture. If our cashmere enters the world market, China will be our rival.

There is no coordination between mining and other economic sectors, so there is a war between mining and livestock. Disintegration is accompanied by populism. Populism has started to break the fundamental principles of democracy.

In addition, Mongolian politics is a restriction to economic and social development. The policy is unstable and uncertain. There are 140 development policies and programs to be followed. Most recently, the “National Program on Unemployment and Poverty Reduction” was adopted. It was supposed to promote economic growth, reduce unemployment, alleviate poverty, become an exportoriented country, and encourage other products, leading sectors, public-private partnerships, and implement the goal of reducing unemployment and poverty by human development and social protection policies. I hope these do not diverge and eventually be forgotten or changed by the next program.

There are 2000 draft documents, conventions, and recommendations. There is no mechanism to control the implementation of these documents. None at all

In fact, the economics of postcommunist countries that transcend Central and Inner Asia are even more profound. Mongolia is left behind by economic diversification. Mongolia has been marked as the country with the unspecified economy. Even worse than Tajikistan. When it comes to primary products, it does not go further than adding value to natural gas. That is why there is no diversity, just as President Battulga Khaltmaa said, it is simply an “inefficient economy.”

Those people who received loans from the SME Development Fund should diversify the economy. Government funds do not cover the SMEs, but international funding is effective. However, it does not reach the level of economic diversification. Having an export-oriented economy can save this country, and the government expects that poverty will be eradicated with an exportbased economy. They convince people to believe it. However, they do not go farther than talks.

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Charter flight evacuates 171 Mongolians from Russia

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The Moscow-Ulaanbaatar charter flight landed at the Chinggis Khaan International Airport on May 26. According to the State Emergency Commission (SEC), 171 people arrived in Mongolia on the flight and will be isolated for 21 days at the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD). The SEC has also decided to evacuate citizens through Altanbulag port on Tuesday and Wednesday. As of Monday, 11,275 people from 46 countries have applied to return to Mongolia. Specifically, about 2,000 citizens from the Republic of Korea, 1,270 from the United States, 906 from Australia, 560 from Kazakhstan, and 549 from India applied. The SEC had previously announced that it would operate a charter flight to India shortly. Moreover, four more patients have recovered from COVID-19 and were transferred into the next stage of isolation, bringing the total number of recoveries in Mongolia to 37, reported Director of the NCCD at a daily briefing of the Ministry of Health. The recovered patients received treatment for 42 to 43 days. Mongolia confirmed 141 cases of the COVID-19; of the 104 people being treated, 95 are in moderate condition and nine are in critical condition. On Monday, the NCCD reported that a COVID-19 had not been detected in 193 people tested at the NCCD and its affiliated laboratories.

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Constitutional court to conclude law on election on June 3

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The Constitutional Court of Mongolia will make a final decision on whether certain provisions of the Law on Parliamentary Elections violate the Constitution at its plenary session on June 3, 2020, according to the Constitutional Court’s Media and Public Relations Office. In line with the election law, Article 6.1 stipulates that a party registered with the Supreme Court prior to the announcement of an election eligible to participate in the parliamentary election and Article 28.3.1 of the same law provides that parties and coalitions must register with the Supreme Court before the deadline for expressing their participation in the election which means conflicting regulations are enshrined in this law. In this regard, the Constitutional court considered whether these provisions violated the Constitution and decided to suspend them in violation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution on April 22. Since the Parliament considered this conclusion unacceptable, the court is going to finalize the dispute in its plenary session. The Constitutional Court of Mongolia has also decided to postpone the May 27, 2020 mid-session at the request of the Cabinet’s proxy representative. The meeting was scheduled to negotiate whether some provisions of the law on procurement of goods, works and services with state and local funds offenses against the constitution.

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Fuel price lowers amid oil plunge

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  • AI-92 gasoline will be sold in Ulaanbaatar at MNT 1,320-1,400

The Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia (MRPAM) held a press conference on fuel price. Concerning the Brent crude oil plunge in the global market, prices of A-80 type petroleum decreased by MNT 50, AI-92 by MNT 80-100, AI-95 petroleum decreased by 200 MNT, and diesel fuel price reduced by MNT 160 as of May 25.Government Resolution No. 114 specifies that the price of all types of fuel to be reduced by MNT 300-400 due to the fall in oil prices in foreign markets and that it will remain stable further, according to the spokesperson.To implement the resolution, we are working to keep the price of AI-92 type of petroleum stable for eight months. During this period, AI-92 will be available in Gobi-Altai and Zavkhan provinces at a price not exceeding MNT 1,670 per liter. In other words, AI-92 gasoline will be sold in Ulaanbaatar at MNT 1,320-1,400. Retail prices for petroleum and diesel fuel have been falling since yesterday and will be fixed, the spokesperson said. Mongolia has 39 days of oil reserves for normal consumption, the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority reported earlier this month. However, the domestic consumption of petroleum products is declining. Particularly, fuel importers state the reducing consumption of petroleum products due to export disruptions and difficulties in the mining sector. As of May 24, petroleum import has decreased by 20 percent and the import of diesel fuel by 32 percent, according to a preliminary report of the General Customs Administration.

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Mining expenditure may drop as companies cut costs

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  • Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi planned to sell 9.2 million tons of coal this year but reduced it by 30 percent to 6.2 million tons

The Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ), an investor of Oyu Tolgoi (OT) reported that the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine project which was planned to cost USD 1.3 billion in 2020, contracted its spending to USD 1.1 billion mainly due to COVID-19 outbreak. It has also deteriorated open-pit cost from USD 120 million to up to USD 80 million. Oyu Tolgoi project made over 94 percent of foreign direct investment of Mongolia in the first quarter of the year. Petromatad, which has discovered an oil field in the Tamsag basin, has cut its employees’ salaries, reducing the earnings of all directors and senior managers by an average of 50 percent and the salaries of professional consultants by up to 45 percent since the second quarter. In the future, it is possible to cut additional costs depending on market conditions. Additionally, Tsairt Mineral LLC, the main exporter of zinc, has postponed construction work at the open pit this year. As a result, the company said, the plant's supply could be disrupted. The company announced that preparations for an underground mine that will create about 200 jobs have been delayed. Coal companies have also cut their export plans this year. For example, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi planned to sell 9.2 million tons of coal this year but reduced it by 30 percent to 6.2 million tons.