Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mongolia Brief April 8, 2014 Part II

Governor of Uvs visits Tuva Republic
Ulaanbaatar, April 8 (MONTSAME) A delegation headed by D.Tsendsuren, the governor of Uvs aimag, paid an official visit to Russian Tuva Republic on April 4-6.

The Mongolians were received by Mr Sh.V.Kara-Ool, the chairman of the Tuva government, in Kyzyl city. Mr Kara-Ool said he felt sorry for not signing yet a protocol on realizing a cooperation agreement between the government of Mongolia and the Russian Tuva Republic in the trade, economics, science, techniques, borders and cultural spheres. Then he thanked the Uvs governor for making proposals for expanding the cooperation in specific directions.
In response, Mr Tsendsuren said he visited Tuva under obligations from the President and Prime Minister to widen the ties, and briefed about some biggest works done in Mongolia in the construction, infrastructure, agriculture, education and health sectors. Uvs aimag launched an open policy for its development, provided businessmen with flexible opportunities to make investments and do business, he added.
A number of people pass through the border between Uvs aimag and Russian Tuva doubled in first two months of this year, the governor said, and emphasized that Uvs aimag intends to expand the ties with Tuva.
The sides re-established a protocol on implementing the cooperation agreement in the trade, economics, science, techniques, borders and cultural spheres.
After the meeting, the governor held a meeting with D.Ganbold, the General Consul of Mongolia in Kyzyl city.
The delegation included B.Yadamsuren, a head of the Citizens’ Representative Khural of the aimag; Ch.Battulga, an advisor to the aimag’s governor; and O.Saruul, the external relations officer of the aimag’s administration.

Stock exchange news for April 8
Ulaanbaatar, April 8 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Tuesday, a total of 23 thousand and 385 shares of 25 JSCs were traded costing MNT 56 million 748 thousand and 144.00.
"Remikon" /9,004 units/, "Moninjbar" /3,700 units/, "Sharyn gol” /3,604 units/, "Khokh gan” /1,600 units/ and "Tavantolgoi” /1,234 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Sharyn gol" (MNT 28 million 834 thousand and 800), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT six million 319 thousand and 740), "Ulaanbaatar khivs" (MNT six million), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT four million 820 thousand and 500) and "Shivee ovoo" (MNT two million 992 thousand and 500).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 632 billion 058 million 928 thousand and 709. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,963.61, decreasing by MNT 129.00 or 0.80% against the previous day.

Mongolia-USA project promotes healthier lifestyles
Ulaanbaatar, April 8 (MONTSAME) Heart disease and stroke account for more than one-third of all deaths in Mongolia. Although they are among the most preventable of diseases, they are also among the most widespread and costly health problems facing Mongolia today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Health Project, part of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation's recently completed five-year, $285 million compact with Mongolia, focused on the early diagnosis, treatment and case management of non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) like heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The project concluded in September 2013 and promoted healthier lifestyles across Mongolia, and it was published on Tuesday on the website of the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the government of Mongolia chose to invest in the project because of the strong link between a healthy workforce and economic growth, the MCC said. The project helped introduce screening processes for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and breast and cervical cancers. It also helped refine laws, policies and regulations to help the Mongolian government promote a healthier public.
These diseases cause premature adult death and disability. The problem ultimately affects labor force productivity and the economic well-being of Mongolians.
Activities in the Health Project included training health workers, encouraging immunization campaigns, providing new hospital equipment, and working with food manufacturers to introduce more healthy recipes and food labeling - all of which are projected to benefit more than 1.7 million people and boost household income by $48 million over the next 20 years, the MCC said.
The project funded improvements across the health sector, from educating medical professionals to ensuring health clinics throughout the country had the proper equipment.
MCC and MCA-Mongolia, the local organization that implemented the country's MCC compact, worked together on developing national clinical guidelines on prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease; the training of 740 medical professionals, including cardiologists, neurologists, physical therapists, and nurses; and the creation of a registry system to collect patient data and allow for doctors and nurses to follow up as necessary.
The compact also funded the training of nearly 17,000 medical and administrative professionals, including clinicians and health care managers. Health screenings were made universally available and affordable to almost all families. More than 550 primary health care facilities in all nine districts of Ulaanbaatar, and in all 21 provinces of Mongolia, were equipped and prepared to screen virtually every Mongolian age 40 or older for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and hypertension. The project also invested $3.1 million for 83 types of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and supplies for local health clinics to serve Mongolians across the country, including throughout rural areas.
The Health Project also encouraged local and national initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles at workplaces, schools and communities by awarding grants and supporting government initiatives to increase public health funding.
The project boosted public awareness of risky behaviors, the need for - and benefits of - regular screening and testing, and the need to respond quickly to stroke and other NCDI danger signs. Public awareness campaigns to promote healthier lifestyles included appearances by MCA-Mongolia officials on 23 talk shows, more than a million information pamphlets, 60 TV programs, and 30 episodes of a drama series that was so popular people requested it be re-aired. Furthermore, in a first for Mongolia's blind people, Braille books on NCDIs were produced by the project, the MCC said.
An advocacy effort led by the Health Project supported the Mongolian parliament's early 2013 adoption of the national anti-tobacco law, which, among other things, restricts smoking in public places. The Health Project also awarded competitive grants to 219 organizations in the health sector and helped bring the world's top researchers to Mongolia by sponsoring two international NCDI conferences in Ulaanbaatar in 2010 and 2013 - the first conferences of this type in the country's history.
MCA-Mongolia also worked with private industry to promote better health, leading to a reduction of salt, sugar and fat in popular food brands. By 2013, the two major Mongolian bread factories had reduced salt content in their products by 12 percent, and a leading dairy producer now offers five reduced-sugar and three sugar-free products. The project also supported new food-labeling standards to protect and inform consumers.
By helping Mongolians of all ages and backgrounds improve their health, the country is better geared for a more prosperous future that will improve lives for all, the MCC said.

2014 Spring Session of Parliament officially launched
April 9 (UB Post) The 2014 Spring Session of the Parliament launched on Monday. This spring session is special as the authorities of political parties without seats in Parliament attended the session meeting.
Delivering a speech opening the session, Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold said, “The issues to be discussed during the spring session have not been ratified yet, thus the spring session’s operation will start once the list of the issues to be discussed will become clear. Also, 52 draft bills have been submitted for discussion, however it was planned to discuss 252 draft bills during this session. It is significant to discuss those submitted bills after correctly prioritizing them by their importance to society and economy.” During the 2014 spring session, the issues including the government’s 2013 financial performance, and a draft bill on adopting the basic orientation of Mongolian society and economy will be brought into the discussion in accordance with the law, emphasized the Speaker.
He also pointed out that there is need to discuss important issues including the Law on Joint Pension, the list of buildings to be privatized by the government in 2014, the law on transparent accounts, and the amendment of some clauses in the package of laws on changes in the judicial system, which are slowing down innovations in the court environment. In conclusion, the Speaker announced that the 2014 Spring Session of the Parliament was officially launched.
Afterwards, political party factions in the Parliament hold meetings in their cabinets.
On the second day of the session, a draft regulation on the issues to be discussed through the plenary spring session of the Parliament was approved through a joint meeting of the Parliament.
A total of 250 projects have been submitted by the Government, Member of Parliament S.Ganbaatar, political party groups, standing committees, as well as the President of Mongolia.

Democratic Party faction in Parliament addresses concerns to government and Central Bank
April 9 (UB Post) The Democratic Party group in Parliament held their regular meeting on Monday, and Chairman D.Erdenebat and Deputy Chairman S.Odontuya held a press conference regarding the matters discussed in the regular meeting.
As the economic situation has worsened, Prime Minister N.Altankhyag and the President of Central Bank gave a statement to the Democratic Party faction. Accordingly, the faction gave some directions to the government and the Central Bank, as reported at the press conference. The Democratic Party faction believes that the list of projects that must be done under a concession agreement should be introduced to the government and must be approved by the Parliament. In particular, launching the financing to build a transit road connecting Altanbulag and Zamyn-Uud this spring. Secondly, to quickly resolve the issues regarding railway borders. Thirdly, the Democratic Party believes that the exploitation of Asgat silver mine in Bayan-Ulgii, with the cooperation of Russia, should be decided under a formal agreement. The party faction also asked the government to operate with initiative regarding intensification of the Oyu Tolgoi project.
The Democratic Party group in Parliament feels that one of the ways to improve the economy is to attract investment, and urged the government to issue new geology and exploration licenses within the framework of the amended Law on Minerals, and to intensify investments connected to foreign and domestic exploration. The party supports the domestic production of mining companies and initiating products and services by national companies which will create added value to exports. Furthermore, the faction wants the government to develop a draft bill on debt management and submit it to the Parliament for further discussion.
The party called for the activation of Mongolia’s relations between China and Russia, to support trade near the borders and quickly resolve visa exemption issues at border areas, as well as the urgent implementation of actions to bring current currency reserves to one billion USD through investment within the first half of the year.
The party demanded that the Central Bank keep currency rates stable and provide sustainable operations for companies producing exports, as construction work is beginning across the country.
According to figures from the last 10 years, the birth rate has doubled since 2004. In particular, around 40 thousand mothers gave birth in 2004, while this year the number of new births is expected to reach 80 thousand. Accordingly, the government was given duties to determine the required financing to build new maternity hospitals in Ulaanbaatar (the city with the largest population in the nation) and to complete the construction of maternity facilities which are underway, by submitting a 2014 budget amendment.
Furthermore the party demands that the government urgently develop draft bills on state loan insurance, export risk insurance and leasing payment insurance, and submit them to Parliament for further approval, as small entities and businesses are on the verge of huge risk because of the deteriorating economy.
The second important issue that was broadly discussed in the Democratic Party group meeting were the 243 projects with frozen investments, determined at the Parliamentary level. Regarding this issue, the party heard information from the working group appointed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget. The group reached a decision to list the names of the companies, identifying them as “untrustworthy partners”, who did not complete project construction, demonstrated insufficient performance, breached standards or vanished after receiving financing. The names of authorities who determined budgets for the named companies will also be revealed.
On the first day of the 2014 spring session, the Democratic Party Group presented the above mentioned duties to the New Government for Changes, and it is up to the government how long it will take to implement these duties to benefit the economy.

New police uniforms follow debates
April 9 (UB Post) The police serving in Ulaanbaatar have started donning their new uniforms from Friday. Design, production and budget issues for the uniforms caused many to question the new apparel.
Concerning the new uniforms, Senior Official of the Media Relations Division at the General Police Department, Captain Yo.Lkhagvasuren explained, “The city police have been wearing their spare uniforms which were the last ones in reserve since 2007. The public was critical of how much budget was spent for the uniforms. However, the budget was not allocated from the state budget but through the fund for police duty outfits.”
Another reason that the public is critical is that the uniforms were made in Turkey, while national tailoring factory Burte had no active projects. Authorities explained that the Turkish company was selected through an open tender as domestic companies didn’t meet criteria for outfit material and design.
“If the uniform was made in Mongolia, it would’ve cost 150,000 MNT and the first batch would’ve been ready by July…Each set of uniforms cost 107,000 MNT and the design and quality meets world standard police uniforms,” Yo.Lkhagvasuren added.
Bayangol District traffic police G.Purevbat who was wearing the new uniform claimed, “The new uniform is very comfortable and light which I like. Its quality has improved a lot compared to previous uniforms. I can easily wipe off dusts and it doesn’t interfere with my constant walking and other labor on duty.”
He also highlighted, “The names of police officers, personal serial and blood types are written on each uniform, so citizens can feel more secure interacting with the police. The blood type on the uniform will help hospitals treat injured police personnel in urgent need of aid in critical conditions.”
Currency dealers in Naiman Sharga set exclusive exchange rates
April 9 (UB Post) A declining Mongolian tugrug and increased value of foreign currency in recent years has been challenging to citizens and residents. Many people are discussing how to resolve the economic crisis, but until now, no solution has been reached. Even the Central Bank has said, “Keeping directly set currency is wrong. We should take measurements to decline it slightly.” The currency exchange rate is increasing day by day.  There were a few people in Naiman Sharga at around 11 a.m. yesterday, while currency dealers were setting the exchange rates and updating their information board.
We learned more in an interview with “B”, a currency exchange dealer.
The exchange rate is fluctuating a lot. How do you set the exchange rate?
Mongol Bank announces the closing rate everyday and puts it on their website. We see it on the website and set the rate. We don’t raise it a lot.
I thought your rate would be cheaper than others, but it is higher than some banks.
Our rate was the cheapest one. But if the supply becomes rare, there is no way to increase the rate for currency dealers. It is a different thing for banks. They have a direct supply from the Central Bank. Other banks participate at auctions and buy the currency twice a week. Unfortunately, the currency dealers are not able to buy currency. So we set the exchange rate according to market law.
Do you know when the USD and CNY rates increase and decrease?
Mongolians mostly buy USD and CNY. Nowadays, the rate of USD and CNY fluctuate 1-5 tugrugs. Depending on the increase of the previous day’s closing rate from Mongol Bank, we raise it. On the other hand, if it decreases we also decrease it too.
In connection with foot-and-mouth disease, the number of people going to China has declined. Has this decline influenced the exchange rate?
Yes. It is quite influential. Compared to March and April of the previous year, the exchange rate has declined dramatically. Besides foot-and-mouth disease, the economic crisis is influencing it too.
Are there many people who buy currency constantly?
Of course, there are. We all have regular costumers. Customers don’t go to new currency dealers anytime they want to exchange their currency. They get used to buying it from the same place. Maybe it is easy for them.
Is the economic crisis reducing the number of regular customers?
For some currency dealers, this can happen. For me there is no change. On the other hand, people are buying one and half million or one million CNY instead of two million. The economic crisis is influencing people in this way.
S. Bayarchimeg: Increase of the CNY rate is oppressing me
While we were talking with currency dealer “B”, we met S. Bayarchimeg, who was exchanging 500,000 MNT to Russian rubles.
Do you often come to Naiman Sharga?
I work as a vendor at Bumbugur market. I go to China in order to bring in new goods once a month and I come here to exchange currency.
But this time you are going to exchange for RUB. So, are you going to go to Russia?
My sister’s daughter lives in Erkhuu and I came here to give her some money. The rate of the ruble has also risen in connection with the increase of the USD.
It seems that the increase of the CNY rate is becoming a big shock for sellers. Is this accurate?
Of course, the increase of the CNY rate is becoming a big shock, especially for those of us who run businesses with little money.  This is not a big thing for sellers who run businesses with a lot of money. When I started my business, the CNY rate was 225 MNT, but now it has decreased to 60-70 MNT.
How often do you go for goods?
I used to go once every two weeks, because I used to buy goods for a small amount of money and goods sold easily. But now, people are not able to go shopping often. I can’t sell my goods quickly, so I go once a month.  Unfortunately, sometimes I can’t go for goods. Maybe all Mongolians do not have money now.
You said you run your business with a small amount of money. How much money do you spend on your business?
It is not too much, 3-3.5 million MNT.  People are rare who can run a business with such a small amount of money.
Naiman Sharga exchange rates are higher than small banks
Even though currency dealers say that they set their exchange rates in relation to the closing rate of the Central Bank, customers were offering other responses. For instance, the rate of exchange changes several times a day. Currency dealers set it and increase the rate of exchange as soon as the train from Zamiin-Uud and Ereen has arrived. If you are going to exchange currency, they advise that you come to Naiman Sharga earlier in the day.
Moreover, banks near Naiman Sharga sell currency cheaper than Naiman Sharga dealers. Businesspeople who know this go to Naiman Sharga after going to the banks.

T.Boldbaatar: Driving courses in Mongolia are inadequate
April 9 (UB Post) In 2013, there were 18,367 reported car accidents. According to relevant statistics, 97.2 percent of car accidents were caused by driver errors. The following is an interview with the Director of the National Center of Auto Transportation, T.Boldbaatar about the condition of cars in Ulaanbaatar and causes of traffic accidents.
Is it true that the National Center of Auto Transportation keeps information about some 500 thousand vehicles in your network?
Doing technical inspection for vehicles is part of our organization’s work. Since the mid-1950s, Mongolia began registering vehicles in a short period of time through a campaign. During this, official taxes for vehicles were collected. At the time, some 5,000 vehicles were registered. In 2000, the number of vehicles increased to over 80 thousand and each year, it increased by around 10 percent resulting in negative effects to health and the environment.
The Mongolian government received concessional loans from the World Bank and Nordic Development Fund and implemented a technical inspection project which was developed in accordance with international standards from 2001 to 2005. The inspection was for vehicles being imported for commercial purposes. Through this project, 24 centers for technical inspections were established in Ulaanbaatar and all provinces. These centers are connected to the information network and presently, a database with the information of over 500 thousand vehicles is active. Owners of vehicles are able to get information connected to technical inspection for their own vehicle from the technical inspection page of our website by searching through their VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) or serial number.
How many vehicles were inspected last year? Through technical inspections, which aspects of the vehicle are inspected?
Last year, at state levels, some 428 thousand vehicles were inspected. This year, around 500 thousand vehicles are expected to be inspected. Through technical inspections, a total of around 50 inspections, including inspection for general condition, car parts, engine, transition, brakes, steering mechanism, lights, chassis, ecology and ergonomics are evaluated to see if they meet standards.
Vehicular emissions, its toxic substance content, amount, activation of front, rear and parking breaks, north axis calibration, front lights, and mirror calibrations are done and sent straight to the main server without any human intervention. Other inspections are evaluated with the help of portable instruments and knowledge of inspection engineers. Our engineers have many years of experience.
People purchasing cars should get technical inspections before purchasing to ensure everything, including integrity, serial number, manufactured date and commissioned time period. These should match the documents. In some cases, serial number, date of manufacture and import dates are different. Due to these circumstances, many have suffered.
How frequently should drivers get their vehicles inspected? Can you get an inspection for technical integrity whenever you want? How much does it cost?
The frequency of technical inspection was approved by the government. Public transportation vehicles are to be inspected twice a year and others are to be inspected once a year. Depending on the month they had an inspection, they have to give another inspection around the same time period in the following year. If they are unable to get an inspection within the time period, according to the law, vehicle owners will be fined with 5,000 to 30,000 MNT, officials with 30,000 to 60,000 MNT, business entities and organizations with 100,000 to 250,000 MNT.
Our organization informs drivers who exceeded inspection time through their cell phones. In the future, penalty notices will be sent to residential addresses. Even if they’ve had technical inspection before but want partial inspection, our centers are always ready to receive. Depending on what parts to inspect, the cost varies from 2,000 to 5,000 MNT.
In Mongolia, how many accidents are caused due to faults in vehicles? Were there any cases which led to deaths or injury from these accidents?
According to a research by the police, the number of traffic accidents has increased every year. In 2013, 423 people died due to traffic accidents in Mongolia. This is a huge number and an issue that needs special attention. Furthermore, the police reported that out of some 18 thousand registered traffic accidents nationwide, 97.2 percent was caused by the driver’s error, 2.6 percent due to pedestrian’s error, and 0.2 percent was caused by poor road conditions. From this information, it’s good that there weren’t any traffic accidents due to technical reasons. This is an indication that Mongolian drivers and owners of vehicles are getting inspection in the prescribed time period and always paying attention to the functionality of their vehicle.
Last year, a total of 20 thousand evaluations showed violations for the braking system, steering mechanism, lights, chassis, ecology and ergonomics from vehicles inspected. We are taking action to eliminate these errors straight away.
Most traffic accidents are caused by drivers. Is it linked to poor driving courses and insufficient training? Your organization is responsible for taking driver’s tests and handing license, right?
From studies, most traffic accidents were caused by drivers’ errors. The curricula for driving courses in our country is inadequate. Organizations giving driving courses are mainly focused on getting income rather than giving quality driving lessons. If one gets driving lessons after paying tuition, no matter if they’ve learned or not, they are to give the tests. People give driving tests with the aim to pass with whatever method they can use to get driving license. Even organizations giving driving lessons intend to pass them regardless of whether they learned to drive or not. This system has been around for many years. We must change this system.
Changes were made in the Vehicle Law in May 2008 and specialized classes were specified for transporting goods and driving public transportation vehicles. In this law, it’s stated that drivers who received the right to drive before this law was adopted can get specialized driving licenses by giving driving tests in accordance with regulations approved by the central state administration concerning vehicles. After these changes were made in the law, tests for specialized driving licenses have been taken and our organization became responsible for this work since 2013.
Presently, there are ten organizations offering courses for specialized driving. Out of these ten, four are in provinces. Our organization is taking tests from people who received lessons for specialized driving as well as drivers who got their license before August 2008.
From the drivers taking the test, what percentage is able to pass on their first try?
Out of the drivers taking the test, a percentage under 10 is able to pass on their first try and around 90 percent take the test twice or more. Most who pass the exam have taken the exam more than five times. There was a case when the test was given 23 times to one person. In order to increase course quality, enhance knowledge, capability and responsibility of drivers, we need to set fees for the examination process. Currently, tests are taken without any fees. A study is being conducted and soon we’ll take fees for the process.
What will be done at the state level to improve course quality and responsibility of organizations offering driving courses?
Organizations training and enhancing the skills of specialized drivers are in charge of legal regulations for transportation methods, technical knowledge, maintenance and repair services, formulating curricula and so forth. A significant sum of capital is required for organizations offering driving lessons to execute all of these. In order to provide quality lessons, capable instructors are required. If above activities are allocated to two to three organizations instead of one, then it’ll cost less and the quality of courses will improve. For instance, it’s possible for instructors to be responsible for teaching regulations for transportation. All they need to do is validate that the person has participated in all the lessons in accordance to the program and received complete knowledge and are capable. The organization responsible for taking tests will evaluate if they’ve received lessons in accordance with the program and then take tests. If training activities are developed this way, there will not be much costly burdens. In order to develop training activities, we are planning to cooperate with associated organizations. By preparing drivers that are highly skilled, we can decrease the increasing number of traffic accidents and violations as well as reduce death tolls and injuries.

Mongolian team competes in Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship
April 9 (UB Post) Altain Bars volleyball club is competing in the 2014 Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship in Manila, Philippines from April 8 to 16.
Some 16 teams from China, Japan, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Qatar are participating in the tournament. The teams were divided into four groups and Mongolia is included in the A group with Philippines and Iraq.
The winner will be awarded a right to participate in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in Belo Horizonte, Brazil from May 5 to 10.
Altain Bars won a right to compete in the Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship after winning gold and silver medals from the Spring Open Tournament and Autumn Open Tournament in 2013.

Model B.Bilguitei promotes Samsung Galaxy S5 in Bangkok
April 9 (UB Post) Mongolian model B.Bilguitei finished a photoshoot for the promotion of Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone in Thailand.
B.Bilguitei has been modeling in Bangkok, Thailand for almost four years.
Around 60 models auditioned for the promotion of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer.
Top models from China and Thailand will also be featured in the promotion along with B.Bilguitei.
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