Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 19, 2014 Part I



Ambassadors from Croatia, Uzbekistan and Georgia Accredited by President Ts.Elbegdorj

June 19 (infomongolia.com) Afternoon on June 18, 2014, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Croatia to Mongolia Mr. Nebojsa Koharovic, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Mongolia Mr. Daniyar Djavdatovich Kurbanov and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Mongolia Mr. David Aptsiauri have presented their Letters of Credence to the President of Mongolia Mr. Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ.

After the credential handing ceremony, President Ts.Elbegdorj congratulated and held a brief meeting with each newly appointed Ambassador noting to broaden bilateral relations and partnership.

Google cameras spotted filming in Mongolia

June 19 (UB Post) By James Watkins
On Thursday, June 12th, Google Street View Cameras were spotted filming at the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue at Tsonjin Boldog by UB Post staff.
This implies that certain monuments and cultural sites around Mongolia will soon be viewable through the Google Street View platform, although it is unclear whether or not this marks the start of extensive Street View coverage of roadways in the country.
Google Street View is a feature of Google Maps and Google Earth that allows users to see 360-degree panoramic views at any point along covered roads, as if they were there themselves. These images are typically filmed by specially adapted Street View Cars, which have driven down well over eight million kilometers of roads worldwide to give comprehensive coverage of 48 countries, with official or unofficial reports of filming taking place in a further 16 countries.
More recently, Google has started to send smaller vehicles, such as tricycles, snowmobiles, and trolleys to places inaccessible by cars, as well as the backpack-held “Street View Trekker” camera. The Trekker equipment spotted in Mongolia features nine directional cameras on an antenna to capture fully panoramic images. Google has recently made the Street View Trekker equipment available for tourist boards, non-profit institutions, universities, research organizations, or other third parties, to rent to collect images on Google’s behalf; it is not clear whether the activity in Mongolia is a centrally-run Google project or being orchestrated by a third party.
Google Street View coverage is being extended to various monuments and cultural sites around the world as part of the Google Cultural Institute project. One hundred and sixty-six “World Wonders” are currently featured as part of this project, from France’s Eiffel Tower to the canals of Venice, including 56 sites in Asian countries, including Japan, Cambodia, and India. The appearance of Google cameras at the Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue suggests that Mongolia might soon join this list.
Although Google has yet to comment or officially confirm that cameras are operational in Mongolia, in addition to our sighting of a Street View Trekker, a Twitter user also posted a photo of the Trekker being used to film at the 13th Century National Park.
Currently, normal photographs—sourced by Google from a third party website—of a number of important locations in Mongolia, such as Sukhbaatar Square, can be viewed via the Street View service, however specially-filmed Street View photography is panoramic and interactive. It is unclear how long it will take for these images currently being recorded in Mongolia to be published online.
The news of Google Trekkers filming Mongolian cultural sites comes roughly six months after the Mongolian language was included as part of the Google Translate service. This breakthrough was announced at the November 2011 visit to Mongolia by the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, during which he met with the then-Prime Minister, Sukhbaataryn Batbold. It was reported that the extension of permissions of Street View cameras was discussed at that 2011 meeting, as well as Mongolian proposals to establish a Google Data Center in Ulaanbaatar, however there are currently no indications that this latter proposal is being followed through with.

Traffic tickets to be issued for excessive speeds in the countryside

June 19 (UB Post) The number of car accidents in rural areas is increasing due to drivers exceeding speed limits. Statistics say that 769 car accidents were registered in the first five months of 2014, 148 people died as a result of car accidents, and 486 people were injured.
The Mongolian Police Department is giving a warning to drivers. Specialist from the Police Department T.Sugarjav said, “A lot of people are dying and getting injured because drivers are exceeding the speed limit, driving drunk, not using safety belts, and driving carelessly. Also, rural citizens are driving motorcycles made in China without a helmet. Use safety belts and wear a helmet, people.”
Officials are paying greater attention to this issue and planning to place speed meters in rural areas. If a driver exceeds the speed limit, a traffic ticket will be delivered to their home.

Water tariff increased to 0.48 MNT per liter

June 19 (UB Post) The city’s water tariff has been increased to 0.48 MNT, up from 0.32 MNT per liter, to reduce the deficit of the Water Supply and Sewage Authority of Ulaanbaatar (USUG). The change came after a joint decision of USUG and the Agency for Fair Competition and Consumer Rights (AFCCR) made last week.
The raising of the tariff applies to all households residing in apartments, and businesses in Ulaanbaatar, Nalaikh District, Baganuur District and Tuv Province.
The water tariff hasn’t been raised at all in the past nine years, which officials say has held back development in the sector and affected water quality.
The raised tariff will be used for ensuring maintenance and the proper functioning of water distribution equipment and lines.
USUG has pledged to strictly monitor spending and the service quality of water distribution agencies as the tariff has been raised.

University entrance exams begin

June 19 (UB Post) Universities began giving their entrance exams last Saturday. The entrance exams began at 12 a.m. all over the country, and the Mongolian language and literary exam was the first, finishing at 1:30 p.m.
By order of the Ministry of Education and Science, all university entrants must take the Mongolian language and literary exam. From today, entrants will take exams according to their major. Tentative reports say that over 41 thousand new students will take entrance exams this summer.

Registration and employment planned for UB’s homeless

June 19 (UB Post) The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar made a pronouncement about arrangements for the city’s homeless. According to the pronouncement, homeless people in UB will be registered, educated about social welfare policy and services, provided with psychological counseling, informed about education and health services, given professional orientations, and assisted with job placement and socialization.
The pronouncement is being implemented by the Operational Strategy and Restructuring Program working group organized by the Life Skills vocational center at the Ulaanbaatar Governor’s Office. Deputy Ts.Buyandalai was promoted to lead the working group.
Registration and research of the data collected will start on June 9 and continue to July 9. While the Head of Life Skills, Ts.Iniyakhuu, is cooperating on the project to include all the city’s homeless people in the research, the police department and Ulaanbaatar Social Welfare and Services Department will also be responsible for including all homeless residents in the research.
The city’s Media and Public Relations Department reported that the project requires 68,825,000 MNT and the Office of Finance and the Treasury Department responded, saying it will be provided from the 2014 planned state budget for the socialization of the homeless.

B.Garamgaibaatar: A group of people are working against ratification of the Law on Land

June 19 (UB Post) Member of Parliament, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economy, and leader of the working group on the land law, B.Garamgaibaatar spoke to Udriin Sonin (Daily Newspaper) regarding the issues around the renewed version of the Law on Land under discussion.
For exactly how many years is land is allowed to be owned according to the law? For instance, the opposition claims that the law includes a provision to permit foreigners to own land for 100 years? 
It is clearly stated in the land law under discussion that foreign citizens and entities will be allowed only to use the land. Otherwise, there is no any sentence in the law that says foreigners will be allowed to own the land.
According to the law, foreigners are allowed to make contracts or agreements only for a designated use. The use includes two designations, use for agriculture and others. In terms of grasslands, a separate law should be created. Thus, relevant organizations withdrew the part of the law related to grasslands. Therefore, there are no issues of letting grassland fall under ownership.
A demonstration is going to be organized against this draft bill. Did demonstration organizers explain why they are protesting the draft law?
I have a certain position as I am the leader of the working group on the law. The draft bill on land is in its first stage of discussion. The Parliament reached a decision to submit the draft bill for further discussion. We thought it was better to explain all the provisions of the law after discussion by the standing committee and parliamentary session. However, some people are playing political games in the middle of it. I can directly name those people.
Who are some of these people?
The gatherings and demonstrations are being hold by NGOs. I know that parliamentary members S.Ganbaatar and B.Bat-Edene are directly involved. Also, some members of the Mongolian People’s Party are involved as well. Member Yo.Otgonbayar announced it on his Twitter page. I see the draft law under discussion is being perverted under the influence of such people.
What do they want the law to be like?
I don’t know what to do. Minister B.Bat-Erdene is in our working group. Representing the independent candidates, Kh.Bolorchuluun is working in the group. The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) appointed the working group and elected parliamentarian J.Enkhbayar as head of the group. The MPP has stated that they will submit their decision after discussing it with the all members of the party faction in the Parliament.
We are still waiting for the party’s decision. The Democratic Party hasn’t reached a decision either, which proves that they have conflicts within the party faction. There are conflicted issues in the Justice Coalition as well. There will be no problems once the political party groups in the Parliament submit their final decisions.
Although, they are spreading a false message to the public that authorities are going to adopt the law, seizing the moment of the Naadam Festival.
People are misunderstanding the meaning of two words, to “own” and to “lease” the land. Or are some people just intentionally perverting the meaning? Can you please provide a specific explanation?
The previous land law and current draft bill both include the phrase “to own”. In compliance with the Constitution of Mongolia and Civil Law, a Mongolian citizen is allowed to freely own land once. The range of territory for ownership is 0.07 hectares in Ulaanbaatar, and 0.5 hectares for every citizen in the countryside. I understand that it is the right of the citizen on how to use the land they own.
Recently the terms have been changed to allow ownership for family use. In the draft bill under current discussion the term “use” means only a citizen of Mongolia is allowed to use the land. It states that if a citizen buys land to use, he or she can use it only for housing purposes. Citizens who pay to own land have the right to run any operation they choose on the land they own. Official organizations and foreign citizens are not allowed to own the land.
When will the law on land be adopted?
As a Member of Parliament and head of the working group on the law, I officially state that there are no controversial provisions in the law on land, like the rumor being spread. The law can be adopted, it includes very specific provisions. The law under discussion makes clear many unclear and broad things stated in the previous law.
There’s nothing wrong in the draft bill. At the discussion level, some people are working against adoption, as they have personal interests and want to include things in the law that are beneficial to them.
Exactly what improvements are in this draft bill, different from the previous law on land?
The highlight of the law is that it clearly states who is allowed to own, lease and use land. In order to allow land use a broker should be established in accordance with the current law in force. However, brokerage still hasn’t developed, and that’s why people have poor knowledge of the law on land.
Source: Vip76 http://vip76.mn/content/25497

‘Lake of the Princess’ park to open in July

June 19 (UB Post) Three parks are currently under construction in Ulaanbaatar ger areas. City officials said that Gunjiin Nuur (Lake of the Princess) park will open in July.
The park is located in the 8th khoroo of Songinokhairkhan District, covering 2.2 hectares of land with distinct land formation. Its artificial lake will have a system that will maintain water levels regardless of evaporation or rain.
The city budget has allocated 441 million MNT for the construction, which is currently at 50 percent completion. If finances are issued as planned, the park will open this summer, reported the project executor.
Deputy Ulaanbaatar Mayor in charge of ecology and green development T.Bat-Erdene reported, “The National Garden was a very significant and massive project and lots of developments have been made there in the past two years. Though Ulaanbaatar residents have a favorable place to spend their free time now, the National Garden is not enough space for 1.3 million residents. Therefore, we are accelerating our work to build more small parks around the city.”
He also highlighted, “Our next big project with the same goal will be Tasgan Ovoo Park. Required fund for the project will be provided from the city budget and the World Bank’s Clean Air Initiative.”
Some 1.7 hectares of land will be designed into a park. The park’s blueprint and operation plan has been prepared already and construction will begin in July. The construction deadline is September this year.
The Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor is paving streets with gravel and stones to reduce loose dust in the city and has planned to build 11 parks in the city at 7.1 hectares of land as part of its green area development project.
The city has budgeted 265 million MNT for gravel paving, lawn planting and playground upgrade projects in streets this year. The projects are at 95 percent completion and will be completed before July, according to city officials.

75 businesses receive extending working hour permits during FIFA World Cup

June 19 (UB Post) Currently, 75 businesses are live streaming 2014 FIFA World Cup and are operating with extended working hours in Ulaanbaatar. The businesses have official permits from ETV which has obtained the right to live broadcast, and issue permits to other businesses.
The extended operating hours allow bars, pubs, and restaurants to operate until 8 a.m. and serve alcoholic beverages with limited alcoholic content for the audience, as World Cup matches are mostly taking place after midnight. Pubs and restaurants in Ulaanbaatar are prohibited from serving and operating after 12:00 a.m.
Ulaanbaatar police departments will be providing additional supervision at businesses with extended working hour permits to ensure safety and prevent possible conflicts between football fans.

Eco-buses to operate at Khui Doloon Khudag during Naadam

June 19 (UB Post) Five “eco-friendly” mini-buses are set to transport visitors from the parking lot of Khui Doloon Khudag horse racing field to the tracks during this year’s Naadam Festival.
The mini-buses were manufactured by Tsakhilgaan Teever state-owned company to be used during special occasions through the order of the Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor last year.
The eco-bus J-800 EV requires eight to ten hours to gain a full charge and has a capacity for 12 passengers. It is 4.6 meters long, 1.45 meters wide and two meters tall.
In addition, officials reported that Mongol Naadam Complex state-owned organization, which will be responsible for the maintenance of constructions and race field in Khui Doloon Khudag, will open its office on July 5.
When the office opens, the organization will work throughout the year to plan other events besides Naadam, such as winter sports events.

Mongolia marks World Blood Donor Day

June 19 (UB Post) Mongolia marked the World Blood Donor Day on Saturday, June 14, under the motto, “Safe blood for saving mothers”.
On the occasion of the day, the National Blood Transfusion and Research Center launched a one-month campaign, “Let’s Save Lives” jointly with the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Mongolia.
Officials of the organizations held an open event at Freedom Square, next to Tengis Cinema, where they raised awareness on the use of blood in Mongolian health sector and how donated blood are used for saving lives of many.
A nation’s blood reserve is considered adequate to meet demand when three percent of its total population is regularly donating blood, according to a study by the World Health Organization. The percentage of people who donate blood in Mongolia is substantially lower than international standards, at 0.8 percent, meaning that 24,000 people are regularly donating blood. At least 90,000 people have to regularly donate blood in order for Mongolia’s blood reserve to reach sufficient levels.

Altanbulag free trade zone to improve cross border trade

June 19 (UB Post) The official launch of Altanbulag free trade zone (FTZ) in Selenge Province is set to take place on June 24. The FTZ aims to improve cross border trade to diversify the Mongolian economy.
A talk of establishing the FTZ in Mongolia has been under discussion for almost over a decade.
Related officials are organizing Altanbulag Expo at the zone on June 22 to celebrate the launch which will start its 24/7 operation.
Altanbulag FTZ will be a direct link to Russian markets preparation works are currently proceeding. In the first stage, construction materials and auto parts will be the focus of trades. Accordingly, a designated trade center will be built at the zone.
Land permits for businesses in Altanbulag have been allowed by the state in order to take full benefit of the border trade zone, reported the director of Altanbulag FTZ Ch.Chimedsuren. Those with permits will be allowed to construct buildings, as well as open trade and service businesses.
State officials are hoping that support for construction material and car parts trade will improve trade circulation, and reduce and stabilize housing prices, as well as car prices.
Altanbulag FTZ working group said that the zone will offer favorable taxes in order to attract entrepreneurs and enhance operations of the FTZ. In detail, entrepreneurs will be exempt from customs tax, VAT, and import tax.
Mongolians can purchase construction goods worth three million MNT without any tax from Altanbulag. According to officials, this is expected to reduce prices of construction material and goods.
Currently, Altanbulag FTZ covers approximately 500 hectares of land, but it is planned to expand to a town which is home to 15,000 to 20,000 people in the future.
A proposal to build a 25 kilometer road from Altanbulag FTZ to Sukhbaatar Station, thermal power plant, residential areas, hotel complexes and recycling plants is already under discussion.
The FTZ officials said that since the zone is located very near the Russian border, and residents of nearby cities in Russia can freely trade at the market. The officials highlighted that Russian businesses and individuals have much higher purchasing capacity than Mongolian, and will have access to Mongolian trade with the help of Altanbulag FTZ.

Permission required to purchase securities

June 19 (UB Post) Starting this year, the newly updated financial market law takes effect and the Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC) made a statement about trading securities in foreign financial markets. The FRC made a statement to brokerage firms, that based on legislative decree No.36.36 of the financial market law, purchasing and brokering securities in foreign financial markets must be done with the FRC’s permission. The FRC issued resolution No.198 and made an amendment to the regulation, to conduct monitoring of operations aimed precisely at regulating securities dealing in foreign financial markets.
The FRC stated that to purchase or broker securities, one has to meet the requirements and conditions of the regulation, send mandatory materials along with an application to the FRC, and obtain permission. According to the amendment to the regulation, purchasing or brokering securities in foreign financial markets without the FRC’s permission will result in fines in accordance with the law.

B.Bat-Erdene: Citizens do not support reviving the granting of licenses

June 19 (UB Post) Member of Parliament B.Bat-Erdene, who sent President Ts.Elbegdorj recommendations to discuss the issue of granting minerals exploration and exploitation licenses through the National Safety Council and draft amendments made to the Minerals Law through the Civil Hall, made a statement on Saturday.
In his statement, he highlighted that because of the Minerals Law passed in 1997, mineral exploration licenses were recklessly granted and 49 percent of Mongolian territory had been licensed, and Mongolian citizens abundantly bore its negative effects and repercussions. Fortunately, during the four years when the granting of licenses had been terminated, as initiated by President Ts.Elbegdorj, the size of licensed areas decreased 7.6 percent and the number of licenses was halved.
B.Bat-Erdene stated, “Firstly, the government’s proposed draft bill to make amendments to the Minerals Law from April 30th is primarily intended to revive the granting of minerals licenses. Secondly, the granting of the licenses does not involve the participation and control of policy by citizens, local governing bodies, or state administrative organizations. Thirdly, the draft bill conflicts significantly with the action policy of the 2012 election campaign of the Justice Coalition government, which consists of the DP and MPRP-MNDP. In other words, the authorities’ words and work are diverging.
“Fourthly, plans are being made to identify the mines included in the ‘Law on Prohibition of Minerals Exploitation and Exploration Near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests’ as strategic mines, and allow mineral exploitation in national parks and borders. I hope the government and parliament will consider the fact that through my meeting with citizens from every corner of Mongolia, no one proposed the reviving of minerals exploration licenses.”
He also opposed discussing a policy of vital importance during a time when the public’s attention is diminished due to an approaching national festival.
He stated, “The current economic recession is the result of erroneous policy by the current government, neglecting warnings of an opposing party that represents 40 percent of citizens. But, government is reviving the granting of minerals licenses in the disguise of economic recession, and authorities, along with foreigners, are willing to seize mines. We ought not to go along with it. Doing so sounds like if it benefits us today, what happens to our descendants, environment, and nation doesn’t matter, even if it brings the end of an era.
“Any nation considers its treasure as an investment. We’ve many examples, such as Erdenet Mining Cooperation. Thus, reviving the granting of exploitation licenses and harming the environment shouldn’t be our highest priority. So we should discuss the draft bill to make amendments to the Minerals Law through a public forum, and the National Safety Council should consult on whether further licenses should be granted.”
B.Bat-Erdene also asked parliament members who own exploitation licenses to comply with the Conflict of Interest Law and not to vote when the State Great Khural discusses and holds a vote on the draft bill to make amendments to the Minerals Law, according to Unuudur Daily Newspaper.

Railbus: A time saver for Ulaanbaatar

June 19 (UB Post) For the 65th anniversary of Ulaanbaatar Railway, many projects have begun and some of them have already been fulfilled. The railbus is one of these projects and its fundamental purpose is to save citizens time and reduce traffic jams in Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar Railway bought two PA-2 railbuses from Transmach Holding in Russia. One of these railbuses started operating on the 7th of June, on a special schedule.
The railbus has 136 seats and is able to transport up to 200 people. A railbus ticket costs 3,000 MNT. It employs 15 conductors, and has four mechanics who were educated in Russia for rail transportation mechanisms. A Russian mechanic was promoted to head mechanic of UB’s railbus in its first time of service.
To save the time of UB citizens and reduce traffic jams, the railbus’ average speed can reach 160 kilometers per hour, and its service from Tolgoit to Amgalan takes 47 minutes, and service from Amgalan to Tolgoit takes 45 minutes. The railbus passes through eight stations that have not been built yet. Ticket cost is determined by a passenger’s final destination. For instance, the railbus from the Ulaanbaatar Railway Station stops near Bars-2 Market, then stops near Tavan Shar before reaching Tolgoit Station. If a passenger’s destination is Bars-2 Market, a ticket costs 500 MNT. A ticket to Tavan Shar costs 1,000 MNT. A ticket to the last stop, Tolgoit Station, costs 3,000 MNT.
Ulaanbaatar Railway hopes to ensure passenger safety and comfort by building pavement, street lights, direction signs and landscaping at the eight railbus stations. Ulaanbaatar Railway has been approved to build yards and noise barriers for the safety of the railway stations from Tolgoit to Amgalan.
Even though other countries developed their underground metro systems 100 years ago, Mongolia is behind, still relying on buses, microbuses, and taxis for the general transportation of the public. But the railbus brings a promising new development to the Mongolian transportation sector. Policies to develop the railbus are being discussed. One example is building a pair of rails so passengers can travel from one end of the railway to the other easily in a shorter amount of time.
People are moving their summer camps and the roads have become terrible during the weekends and weekdays. Thus, Urban Public Transport plans to offer services with big buses and microbuses for seven new routes in UB starting June 9. Big buses are scheduled for the following routes: Gunt-Jigjid-Tengis Cinema, Goodoi-Tengis Cinema, and Bayanbulag-Tengis Cinema. Microbuses routes are scheduled for Doloon Buudal to Maikhantolgoi-Yargaitiin bogino-Yargait-Khuurai Bogino every day. Adults pay 600 MNT and children pay 200 MNT for a ticket. According to the demands of residents represented by the Bayanzurkh 11th district committee about overlapping routes, bus number M:27, running from 5 Shar-Officers Palace-Urgakh Naran Town has been taken out of service. The route change was implemented on June 9.
Visitors and locals still have difficulty taking public buses to common destinations in the city or places far from downtown. First, from the center of the city, near Chingis Khaan Square, to Urguu Cinema 1, buses M:43, M:36, M:34, M:44, M:50, and T:5 are available. M:19 and M:45 run from the Central Library to Urguu Cinema 1. Buses serving Zaisan are the M:43, M:33, and M:55. If your destination is Narantuul Market, you can catch bus M:40. To reach 7 Buudal, catch bus number M:31 and M:3 are available. To get too 5 Shar, west of UB, catch bus number M:31, M:37, or M:17b.
There are special express buses traveling to the airport. They cost more than other buses, 2,000 MNT for adults and 1,000 MNT for children. The airport is 16 kilometers from UB. People pay approximately 13,000 MNT for a taxi to the airport. Through research conducted at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, 67 percent of people get to the airport using their own cars, and 23 percent take a taxi. The express buses offer a more economical option to travel to the airport. It leaves regularly from the Education University of Mongolia bus stop.
If you need more information about public transportation schedules, see transport.ub.gov.mn.

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