Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 4, 2014 Part II

Fake democracy

June 4 (UB Post) Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.”

Mongolia adopted representative democracy where we choose and appoint our delegates giving them the power to make decisions concerning our lives on behalf of us. For the last 20 years, we have had relatively peaceful elections including khural elections at all levels (parliamentary election and all citizens’ representatives council elections) and presidential elections. However, the sense of responsibility as well as professional discipline has been lost among the delegates we have chosen while their knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks are on a downward trajectory.
Furthermore, there is increased corruption and it is proving to be more difficult to provide oversight and hold them accountable for their unlawful actions. As a result, the entire society has become more prone to disarray and laziness. Some people today trust shamans more than they believe in themselves. That is why we are facing a genuine threat that Mongolia’s democracy could become a fake democracy.
The main reason why this threat has become legitimate is that we have neglected the basic principle of representative democracy – oversight on governance. Regardless of which political party has the ruling power, our government at all levels talk greatly about having public oversight on governance, yet they actually do not do anything about it. They have become so skilled in avoiding the talks about civic oversight while using it as an advertisement tool in elections.
In countries where people are allowed to provide oversight to their government, a true democracy flourishes as public governance strengthens and the principles of free market are fully applied. It creates opportunities for their citizens to work hard, receive gains that they deserve, and satisfy their intellectual needs. On the other hand, if a democratic country does not have such mechanisms of public oversight, their people lose trust in political parties and become less active in elections. As a result, fewer people choose where the ruling power goes.
Media is an institution that plays the most important role in ensuring that the characteristics of democracy are present. However, Mongolian newspapers, television channels, radios, and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, have been negligent about providing oversight on public governance as our media has been more focused on the forms and attributes of problems rather than their root causes.
One of the issues that have been avoided, intentionally or unintentionally, by our political parties, legal entities, and media is the transparency of political party funding. Even though there are laws on financing political parties, they are not implemented. It has almost become an accepted norm that individuals offer huge, secret monetary donations to political parties, become a member of Parliament or other khurals in return, and potentially get appointed to a higher position within the government. It is clear how far the swamp of corruption has spread in a country where political power is traded.
It is inevitable that there will be doubt and distrust among citizens when it is allowed for individuals to buy senior governing positions while political parties can get away with keeping their financing secret.
In Mongolia, political party funding is regulated by the law on political parties while campaign finance of political parties is governed by the election law. There is currently no independent institution that reviews total funding of political parties, have political parties release their financial reports, and make those reports available to the public. The law states that political parties, as well as independent candidates, must have independent audits done on their campaign finance and submit the report to the General Election Committee within a month after the election concludes. However, the public does not have any information on whether political parties are in compliance with this law or not. The General Election Committee is an institution that organizes elections at all levels, but it does not have the authority to review campaign finance of political parties and hold them accountable for non-compliances.
Political parties have been secretly supporting the continuity of these circumstances where laws that are supposed to stop secret funding into political parties and trading of senior positions, and promote public oversight are not implemented. It has been favored by political parties that the non-compliances of such laws are not publicly informed and countermeasures are not taken in time to put an end to this.
Although Mongolia set certain limits on monetary donations that can be made by individuals as well as legal entities, there is no mechanism that verifies campaign finance reports submitted by political parties in order to see if there is any non-compliance with the law. It has become evident that political parties and state officials will not create such mechanism on their own unless there is a strong push from the public.
In order to stop corruption and improve the efficiency of governance, Mongolia needs to establish a system that reviews political party funding and their campaign finance, improves the understanding of democracy, and enhances public trust in democracy.
One possible option is to replace the General Election Committee with a Commission of Voters. Instead of the members of the General Election Committee being appointed by the President, the Prime Minister, or the Speaker of Parliament, majority of the members of the Commission of Voters should be politically independent individuals representing voters. Although there could be representatives of larger and smaller political parties, the independent members of the commission would have the right to make a decision independently from political parties. The commission could have an executive function that exercises the right to organize elections, receive financing reports from political parties, and investigate their sources of funding.
The Commission of Voters could report directly to the parliament and have long-term membership. Also, the commission would have the authority to accredit and approve the registration as well as shut down political parties, and relevant documents. Furthermore, the Commission of Voters can receive quarterly reports of political party income including donations, publish reports online, generate a list of the biggest donators, and improve awareness and understanding of public governance among citizens.
The commission should also be an appropriate institution that could study how political parties can use its money and capital, and give recommendations. For instance, such recommendations could include shutting down a political party if it has 801 members, which is the legal minimum for registration, but fails to receive the same amount of votes in an election.
There could also be an independent, parliamentary standards function that reviews the expenditure of funds that are provided by the government to members of Parliament and are supposed to be spent on transportation and other costs required to fulfill their tasks. At the request of votes, expenditure reports can be provided by this institution.
Besides holding democratic elections fairly and properly, Mongolia needs to make its public governance transparent, which includes reviewing and reporting of political party funding and their campaign finances. If we manage to build this system, Mongolia’s current fake democracy will become a true democracy. It all depends on us, the citizens of Mongolia.
Translated by B.AMAR

Government inaction threatens the renewable energy sector

June 4 (UB Post) By James Watkins
After the passing of the much-praised Renewable Energy Law in 2007, Mongolia looked poised to undergo a renewable energy revolution. The country’s natural environment makes it a perfect candidate for large-scale projects in both wind and solar power, potentially attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign investment, creating thousands of local jobs, reducing reliance on imported energy, and dramatically reducing environmental pollution, the scourge of Ulaanbaatar.
However, according to industry sources, the government is failing to fulfill its contractual obligations in terms of paying for the renewable electricity that is produced at the new 120 million USD Salkhit wind farm, which opened in June 2013. This action not only threatens the future of Salkhit wind farm but it will also deter other private investors from making any further ventures into the Mongolian renewable energy sector.
Under the terms of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between government energy agencies and Clean Energy LLC, a company set up by Newcom in 2004 to set up and manage Salkhit wind farm, all electricity produced at the farm would be paid for at a guaranteed price of 0.095 USD/kWh, regardless of whether it is actually used by the national grid to power Mongolian homes and businesses. Neal Detert, CFO/COO of Clean Energy LLC, explains that “we have priority dispatch, and the agreement that we have is a take-or-pay contract, so in theory they have to purchase everything, regardless of whether they take it or not.” However, that “has not been happening to this point.”
In reality, the National Dispatching Center has significantly limited the amount of electricity it is purchasing from clean energy by a factor of seven of 10 percent. Detert stresses that “this seriously impacts the financial viability of the company. Whether or not we will survive the next year is in question.”
In addition to Salkhit wind farm, three other projects of similar size are in planning stages, in Choir, Sainshand, and Tsogttsetsii. Two of the three hold construction licenses, in addition to power purchase agreements (PPA) similar to that held by Clean Energy LLC. However, the government’s failure to fulfill their commitments made in Clean Energy’s PPA is clearly making other companies hesitant. The wind farm planned for Sainshand received approval, financial backing and signed PPAs four months ago, but no further action has been taken since whilst the outlook remains uncertain. This is costing the country investment, jobs, and a much-needed clean energy supply, both now and in the future.
Salkhit wind farm, about 70 km away from Ulaanbaatar, is made up of 31 wind turbines, which together create a total generation capacity of 50MW, about five percent of Mongolia’s total electricity demand, enough to power roughly 100,000 homes. Crucially, this electricity is produced with zero emissions of harmful gasses (post-construction). As a result, wind energy can not only help ensure energy security in the context of rapidly rising demand, but it does so using a freely available resource that will never run out—the wind—and avoiding pollution that would otherwise be produced, contributing to global climate change as well as to localized issues of air pollution.
With over 85 percent of Mongolia’s electricity otherwise coming from coal-fired power plants, Clean Energy estimate that their wind farm alone will save 1.6 million tons of fresh water and 12,250 tons of coal per year, avoiding the emissions of 1,780 tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to these environmental benefits, a booming renewable energy sector is economically desirable too, potentially bringing in millions of dollars in private foreign investment, and creating employment in rural areas—during construction, the Salkhit wind farm was employing over 3,500 people, directly or indirectly.
Mongolia is an ideal location for renewable energy production. The Salkhit project is achieving wind capacity rates several percentage points higher than average farms around the world, and that is even after a season of lower wind yield than expected. In addition, the environment is even more beneficial for wind generation in the Gobi Desert, which has a potential capacity for 2,000 gigawatts of electricity generation (by means of comparison, total installed capacity of the whole Mongolian power sector is roughly one gigawatt). With huge potential for solar power too—the Gobi Desert experiences almost 4,500 daylight hours per year—renewable energy is a sector that could transform Mongolia, economically and environmentally.
Currently, low nighttime demand for electricity in Mongolia means that the electricity produced at Salkhit cannot be used without switching off other power stations, which can be costly and inefficient. This is one of the cited reasons for the curtailment of purchasing electricity by the National Dispatching Center.
Dulamsuren Dorjpurev, the Deputy Minister of Energy, has in the past hinted that Mongolia could become a regional hub for renewable energy generation by exporting electricity created at wind or solar farms to Russia or China. If favorable export tariffs can be negotiated with trade partners, this could be a doubly positive outcome—not only would Mongolia expand a new export industry, but this could also alleviate the pressure over the existing PPAs that the government is failing to uphold, as it would provide a guaranteed demand for all renewable energy produced, removing the need to curtail purchases.
While Mongolian energy generation capacity is currently under 1,000 MW, the Ministry of Energy forecast that peak demand will rise to over 2300 MW by 2020. Substantial investment in generation capacity is clearly needed, as well as in modernizing the distribution and transmission infrastructure around the country. With the government announcing a target for 20-25 percent of energy generation to be from renewable sources by 2025, renewable energy will be hugely important in this revolution that must occur in the energy sector in the coming decades.
With public funds unable to fully cover an investment of this scale (in the billions of dollars), private investment will have to form the backbone of the Mongolian energy sector over the coming decades. And, as Detert points out, “in order for [the government] to get private investment, they have to respect contract law, the rule of law.”
This is true not only in this sector, but across the economy. Arguably the most fundamental requirement of creating a sound, reliable economic environment in which foreign investors feel comfortable doing business is respect for contract law. Without it, the future of Clean Energy LLC’s Salkhit wind farm remains uncertain, and the potential for attracting substantial foreign investment in other renewable energy projects is diminishing.

Mongolia Celebrates Its 61st Mother’s and Children’s Day

June 4 (UB Post) June 1 is celebrated around the world as International Day for Child Protection. In Mongolia we refer to the day as Children’s Day, or as Mother’s and Children’s Day. On Mother’s and Children’s Day, people show appreciation for mothers and children all across the country.
Mongolia celebrated June 1 as Children’s Day for the 61st year. The first-ever child organization and movement in Mongolia was established on May 5, 1925, at the initiation of the great writer D.Natsagdorj and youth of that time, united under one purpose and intention. Mongolia joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 as the fifth member, and developed the Law on Protecting Children’s Rights according to the convention’s views. The law was ratified on May 8, 1996.
Children in every corner of Mongolia look forward to June 1, when they get presents and sweets from parents and relatives. Individuals, families, organizations and colleagues distribute presents to children on the streets, visit orphanages, as well as contribute to children’s causes.
Various events dedicated to children are held on the holiday. This year, prior to Children’s Day, female MPs in Parliament, the Mongolian Student’s Association, World Health Organization, the Health Center of Ulaanbaatar, and the General Police Department worked together to organize a parade with 1,000 children under the motto “Let’s Reject Tobacco”, celebrating World Tobacco Free Day as well as Children’s Day at Chinggis Khaan Square, on May 30th.
Also, Mongolia’s first-ever nationwide, toll free, 24/7 children’s helpline was launched on May 31. Child Helpline 108 is an initiative by National Authority for Children, World Vision Mongolia, and Mobicom Corporation, to reduce child abuse cases and strengthen the child protection system in Mongolia. It intends to provide children with all kinds of information, advice and assistance. The number of children and parents using the helpline for advice and information about the rights of children is on the rise.
On June 1, official Children’s Day events took place at Chinggis Khaan Square with performances by the Mongolian Puppet Theatre, artists from the Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Mongolian Children’s Palace, best children’s choirs, and students of the Music and Dance College.
Children came to the event and enjoyed the day, playing with their favorite characters and heroes.

MPP demands new government action policy

June 4 (UB Post) The Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) caucus in Parliament held a meeting on Monday and discussed several issues, including the action policy fulfillment of the Government of Mongolia over the last two years, the country’s economic situation, and a report on Mongolian society’s development in 2013.
The MPP believes that the Government’s claim that it has so far satisfied 46.2 percent of its action policy is not a reality. The MPP parliamentary caucus says it has monitored the implementation of the action policy, estimating its annual and quarterly fulfillment, and reached the conclusion that the government’s performance is only at 30 percent. In particular, MPP caucus members noted that the implementation of programs and projects targeting budget, finance, money, loan policy, salary, pension, welfare, labor, job production, mining and industrialization has been insufficient.
The leader of the working group to monitor the government’s action plan, S.Batbold, pointed out, “The government’s goal to reduce loan interest to one digit has not been realized so far. At the moment, loan interest is at 15-18 percent. Positive results have not been shown within target to create new jobs. Government’s promise to increase salary, pension and welfare was not fulfilled last year. In 2012, a total of 2,878 entities operated in the agricultural field, but in 2013 it fell to 839. A total of 470 entities ran operations in 2012, but in 2013 it fell to 70. A total of 4,492 entities operated in the processing industry in 2012, however that number was reduced by 4.9 percent, dropping to 926 entities.
“The cost of commodity products increased by 30 to 40 percent. According to research conducted by the National Statistics Office, monetary income per household increased by 40 percent in 2012 from 2011, while in 2013 it increased by only 14.2 percent. Some 83.2 percent of total pensioners received pension loans of 294.2 billion MNT, and 30.5 percent of all workers claimed salary loans of 1.2 trillion MNT, which proves that the issues stated in the government’s action platform are not being fulfilled sufficiently.
“Therefore, the working group has reached the conclusion that the Government’s operations based on PR and promotion have to reflect people’s real lives in order to fulfill its election oaths and action policy.”
At last week’s parliamentary meeting the performance of the basic directives to develop Mongolia’s economy and society in 2012 was discussed. The Mongolian National Audit Office evaluated the performance of 2013’s basic directives at 59 percent completion, or “insufficient”. One hundred and eleven goals out of 165 in the 2013 basic directives were not implemented at all, or were considered under-implemented.
The MPP believes that because of the government’s policy errors the economy has deteriorated and negatively impacted people’s lives. The party will pay particular attention to 2015’s basic directions, emphasized MPP party member O.Sodbileg.

National Garden opens football field and cycling trail

June 4 (UB Post) A football field and a 2.7 kilometer cycling trail opened at the National Garden on Sunday as the first part of Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag’s initiative to establish a sports complex on 2.7 hectares of land at the garden.
Approximately five billion MNT was allocated from the Prime Minister’s budget for the whole project.
The garden will shortly open a basketball court, tennis court, running trail and twin trails for skiing in the second stage, which are expected to provide more free-time and outdoor facilities for Ulaanbaatar residents.
Burd LLC and Tsagaan Zam LLC have been selected through a tender and are currently executing the construction of the sports complex, according to international standards.
A running trail was built at the garden with rubber to ensure safety and minimize severities in cases of injury.

Mongolia Business Summit to facilitate growth

June 4 (UB Post) The Mongolian Business Summit will take place from June 19 to 21, in Ulaanbaatar.
Presented by the Mongolia Economic Forum, the Mongolia Business Summit will focus on global partnerships to facilitate business growth. A “deal-driven” approach enabling entrepreneurs, investors, bankers, both local and international, to interact directly will be used.
The main focus of the summit is to introduce corporations, bankers, investors and entrepreneurs, both local and international, to how they can explore the untapped potential of one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
International and local business people experiencing success in Mongolia will share unrivaled, first-hand experience of growing their business in this emerging market. One of the participants of the conference, Robert Friedland, founder of Ivanhoe Mines (now Turquoise Hill Resources), is also expected to attend.
With one of the world’s fastest growing GDP rates at 9.5 percent in 2014 and 10 percent expected in 2015 according to Asia Development Bank, Mongolia is setting the foundations for a period of high and steady growth expected in 2015-2016.
Mongolia serves as a key platform for markets in China and Russia. As a landlocked nation, it is ideally situated between two influential neighbors with large economies.
Mongolia’s target growth sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, mining, real estate and manufacturing, will be explored at the event. Representatives from each of these sectors will also attend.
Participants have the rare opportunity of opting to visit various sites including cashmere factories, agricultural and food processing facilities, manufacturing plants and a mining site.

A.Dolgion: We are striving to make a positive impact on Mongolian society

June 4 (UB Post) The following interview is with Dolgion Aldar, chief executive officer of the Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM).
When was IRIM established and by whom?
IRIM was established in 2008. The reason why we have named it “independent” is that even though at that time surveys were being conducted in Mongolia, most of them were connected to political parties, donor organizations, and business organizations. Our institute was established to conduct essential surveys correctly, at a scientific, well-founded and professional level.  The initiators were Mongolian researchers and scientists who used to conduct the non-independent surveys and decided to integrate, and considered it better to create synergy to develop this sector. It was established during the economic crisis.
Have you ever received state grants for your institute?
No. We have not received any grants. Even now we do not receive them. We run this institute by ourselves, since it is a professional organization.
How many people work at IRIM and how long does it take to finish one survey?
There are 23 workers, basically, out of which over 18 are researchers. The rest of them are administrative workers, but mostly they are sociologists, economists, legal specialists, and social workers. Many kinds of specialists work here and it is a highlight of our institute.
Sometimes, over 70 people work on a big project at maximum. In this case we hire an assistance team and we increase their retention rate.
What kind of people work on an assistance team? Do students work with you?
Students do not work here. Mostly graduates and seasonal workers attend the training, and the research work covers a very wide range of society.
The most important thing about our human resources is that we have advisors who have majored in economics, gender, and social welfare.  When we need advice they guide us. For example, I majored in government and state policy. I can give advice in this field but I do not know much about social health. So, we cooperate with specialists who have majored in different fields.
How many projects have been implemented?
In total, over 75 projects and programs have been implemented since 2008.
Have you cooperated with foreign organizations?
The main partners of our organization are foreign organizations, such as the United Nations Population Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Swiss Agency for Development. These organizations also conduct surveys and implement projects. For instance, there will be project for reducing poverty. We are doing research on this project to define its purpose and who the target user will be.
Also, we collaborate with the ministries and the Parliament.
What was the latest project implemented?
It is hard to say which one was the latest because four or five projects are being implemented simultaneously. So I will talk about the latest project that we have signed.  International Finance Corporation booked a survey which will define the situation of SME’s owned by women. Currently, we are conducting this survey in cooperation with Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany. The focus of this survey will make comparisons with male-owned SMEs, their difficulties and features.
What is your institute’s “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG)?
Our BHAG is to give factual and correct information at a professional level, which will be needed to improve life for Mongolians, because false results will bring about poor policy. Our work is not about just producing paperwork, it has to make a positive impact on Mongolian society.
Our motto is: Independence, Quality and Impact.

B.Byambasaikhan: Building Trust will save the Mongolian economy

June 4 (UB Post) The following is an interview with the Secretary of Economic Council B.Byambasaikhan, about the council’s “100 day plan to intensify the economy.”
Many people can’t believe that an economy built until today can be revived in just 100 days. Can the economy be revived in 100 days?
Presently, everyone is criticizing that the USD exchange rates have risen and that money isn’t flowing into Mongolia. Instability of the legal environment, uncertain rules and principles and the weak legal environment for business are all connected to the reason for shortage of money flow into Mongolia.
Mongolia’s investment environment was improved. Major projects were implemented and gave reason to trust Mongolia to foreign and domestic investors. Corresponding to this, the amount of money flow into the economy had increased. Unfortunately, Mongolians lost that trust of investors in a very short amount of time. Many investors deflected from Mongolia because of unscientific, baseless and uncalculated law adoptions. The most important thing to do within these 100 days for intensifying the economy is to regain the trust of investors and bring back money flow.
In other words, by creating a favorable environment for running businesses within these 100 days, we’ll be able to attract required funds for the current economy to Mongolian markets in a short period of time. Let’s make integrated mediums and long term economic plans. Currently, a plan to create an environment that Mongolian businesses can make strategy plans based on this integrated economy medium and long term plan is being developed.
Getting investors’ trust is a time consuming work. Some foreign investigators define Mongolia as a difficult partner to do business with. It seems that not only foreign but also domestic investors have lost faith in Mongolia. What do you think about this issue?
It’s said that it’s easy to lose someone’s trust but difficult to redeem it once it is lost. Mongolians will not be able to grow the economy without building trust. Without regaining trust, there’s no chance of attracting investments. All businesses are based on mutual trust. We have to concentrate on building and regaining trust during these 100 days. Both the government and politicians should focus on regaining the trust they lost. Investors stopped believing in Mongolia because Mongolians insist on changing established contracts, change laws and regulations whenever they please and if they don’t like it, they banish, protest and do demonstrations.
Any investor would prefer reliable and stable business environment over partners that will change their attitude every time they wake up. Mongolians first need to focus on their attitudes and communication skills. Every time investors are discussed and conspired on, they will define us as unreliable partners. When adopting laws, opinions of the private sector, specialists and economists must be heard. We’ve just seen the harmful consequences of laws initiated by politicians for political purposes have to the economy. Most importantly, politicians should stop initiating and approving laws based on their emotions.
It is widely considered by experts that an economy which is dependent on only one sector brings about huge amounts of negative consequences. Do you think that not only the mining sector but also other sectors should be developed?
It’s evident that the Mongolian economy should change its model and diversify. Determining what to concentrate on diversifying the economy is also a big issue. Since mining and agriculture are the supporting powers of Mongolian economy, other sectors should be developed based on them. Undeniably, Mongolia’s economy is receiving negative effects from global market failures for being too dependent on mining. A major change in the policy is required. If we can acquire two billion USD in the Mongolian economy, the exchange rate of USD will stabilize for a period of time. It’s certain that there’ll be negative consequences after six months or so as it is not limitless money.
The government decided to encourage exportation and limit unnecessary importation. How will this policy be reflected on the economy?
There’ll definitely be some difference. Through importation, Mongolia is externalizing large sums of USD. Although, not everything can be produced domestically, things that can be produced by us should be produced domestically. We can grow and harvest vegetables. A country like Mongolia, with over 40 million livestock, should supply its own milk and wear Mongolian socks. Corresponding to this, workplaces will become available and taxes can be charged from them. Mongolia needs to become a producing country. A definition of an intellectual government is to be prudent and calculative in every aspects as well as making economic decisions based on research. Temporary emotional interferences in decision making in the last few years became the cause of the Mongolian economic crisis.
Now, the Economic Council is involving private sectors and aiming to make changes together with them. As people who know the difficulties, advantages and disadvantages of operating businesses more than politicians, within the framework of 100 day plan to intensify the economy, our main objective is to research and find solutions for getting out of the economic crisis, participate in making decisions based on estimates and most importantly, build trust which we lost in the last few years, together with the government.
Business entities are actively participating in the 100 day work to intensify the economy. Some people believe that you’re working with funds that you received from the government. Is it true?
Sorry to contradict you but we’re working without any salary. Most importantly, it’ll be beneficial everywhere if favorable conditions for businesses are established. We’re working because we aim to create economic changes together. Perspectives of politicians and business entities are different. This country is held up by business entities, not by politicians. If business entities have funds, the country will have both power and prosperity. Regarding this, we thought that we should participate in retrieving the country’s economy in a state of crisis and work together with politicians on building trust. Wealth producers must be the ones to change the economy.
After 100 days, will the exchange rate of USD drop?
Money flows into the economy through capital. Implementation work of projects is based on mutual trust and partnership. If Mongolia desires prosperity, everyone including ordinary residents, politicians and businessmen should work together. The second stage of investment for Oyu Tolgoi was halted. The funds that were to come flowing in through the underground development are no longer coming in. Now it’s better to concentrate on aspects to develop the economy without fracturing or politicizing. Oyu Tolgoi must be advanced and Tavan Tolgoi should be included in the economic utilization. Mongolians have so much work to do, starting from the development of infrastructure and railroads and we need to have ethical consciousness to adhere to established contracts and stop restricting, threatening and humiliating wealth creators. It’s clear that money will never flow into Mongolia if we lose the trust of not only foreign investors but also domestic investors. In order to become wealthy, attitude of the people must be changed.

Mongolian memory team wins 19 medals from International Open Memory Championship

June 4 (UB Post) Mental sports athletes of the Mongolian Intellectual Academy participated in the International Open Memory Championship (IOMC), which took place in Manila, Philippines from May 31 to June 1.
A total of 68 mental athletes from Mongolia, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and South Korea competed in 10 categories .
The Mongolian team consisted of grand master S.Tsogbadrakh (22), national memory champion T.Enkhjin (16), national champion E.Enkhmunkh (15), and coach B.Baasandorj.
Mongolian memory champion E.Enkhmunkh won two gold, five silver and two bronze medals, T.Enkhjin took three gold, one silver and three bronze medals, and grandmaster S.Tsogbadrakh won three gold and one bronze medals.
The Mongolian team placed second with a total of 19 medals.
Grand master S.Tsogbadrakh set a new world record by counting 1,408 digits in the 30 minute Digit Marathon category. He received the Grand Master of Memory title in 2011.

Flash Mob competition to be organized

June 4 (UB Post) In celebration of the World Environment Day on June 5, a flash mob competition will be held among university students at Chinggis Square.
The Ministry of Environment and Green Development and Mongolian Students Union are jointly organizing the event.
The competition will be held among university teams, and each team is required to have more than fifty members. The best three teams will receive cash prizes of two to four million MNT.
Judges of the flash mob competition have not been selected yet.
The World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. It is organized by the UN’s Environment Program.
The 2014 theme for the World Environment Day will focus on “Small Islands and Climate Change,” the official slogan for the year 2014 is “Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level.”

The End of Poverty?

May 29 (Mark News) As United Nations officials struggle to define the development priorities of the next 15 years, the UN Millennium Campaign, the World Bank, and many other organs of the development industry tell us that we are nearing the end of poverty. Yet, well over half of human beings are still suffering serious deprivations of poverty, such as child labor, chronic undernourishment, illiteracy, and lack of access to safe drinking water, shelter, sanitation, electricity, and essential medicines.
In some ways, conditions among humanity’s poorer half have improved over the last 25 years. But the trend depends heavily on the definitions and methods used for measurement.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization recently transformed a steadily rising undernourishment trend into a steadily falling one by introducing an “improved methodology” that counts as undernourished only those whose caloric intake is “inadequate to cover even minimum needs for a sedentary lifestyle” for “over a year.” This definition excludes those who suffer other nutritional deficits (vitamins, proteins, minerals) and those who are not adequately nourished by the sedentary diet because they must do serious physical work in their home or for a living.
The World Bank similarly improved the extreme poverty trend by lowering its international poverty line from $1 per person per day in 1985 dollars to a grotesquely inadequate $1.25 in 2005 dollars.
The morally relevant comparison of existing poverty, in any case, is not with historical benchmarks but with present possibilities: How much of this poverty is really unavoidable today? By this standard, our generation is doing worse than any in human history.
To eliminate severe poverty, the poorer half of humanity would need only six percent of global household income – a shift of just 2.7 percent in their favor. Yet the global distribution is shifting in the opposite direction: The top five percent of humanity gained 2.9 percent of global household income between 1988 and 2008, and now capture nearly half.
In the same period, the poorest 30 percent’s share was compressed from 1.52 percent to 1.25 percent, despite all development assistance efforts. The benefit the poor derive from global growth is decimated by the narrowing of their slice of the expanding pie.
One crucial driver of national and global income polarization is regulatory capture, called “money in politics” on the left and “crony capitalism” on the right. Corporate and elite interests capture the basic rules of the economic system (governing investment, taxation, trade, intellectual property, etc.), which so profoundly influence the economic distribution. The wealthiest agents have the strongest incentives and also the best opportunities to engage in concerted lobbying, and thus perpetually shift the rules in their own favor.
Involving a massive shift of regulation from the national to the supranational level, globalization has opened up a vast new arena for such lobbying. Its prime targets are officials of powerful states – especially in the United States, where political favors are legally for sale, and which still wields unrivaled power in international negotiations.
For those with lobbying clout, international rulemaking is typically easier to influence than national legislation. There is no democratic counterweight to contend with. Lack of transparency makes it easy to conceal influence. And moral concerns about proposed rules are easily dismissed with the remark that international relations are a jungle in which we cannot afford to endanger ourselves through moral self-restraints.
It is not surprising, then, that the last 30 years have seen the emergence of a dense and influential supranational rule system that favors banks, hedge funds, multinational corporations, and billionaires at the expense of a large majority of the world’s people.
Tax cheating and corruption are rife thanks to a worldwide network of tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions, shell companies, and sleazy banks. Poor populations are deprived of their natural resources while their unelected oppressors receive money and weapons to keep themselves in power.
Only affluent countries are still permitted to practice protectionism under rules grandfathered into the World Trade Organization agreements. Strong intellectual property protections are required from all WTO members, disrupting medical provision and food supplies in the developing world.
Weak environmental standards allow the affluent to burden the poor with the byproducts of their massive consumption, and weak labor rights push poor countries into a race to the bottom as they seek foreign investment by offering an underpaid and mistreatable workforce.
Development assistance can be helpful, but it also sustains the status quo by feeding the complacent belief that enough is being done. In any case, aid on its own cannot overcome the powerful headwind generated by a supranational institutional order designed by the rich for the rich.
To raise the income share of the poor, this order must be reformed. Some ideas in this direction are straightforward:
• Require the beneficial owners of all accounts to be known, and their income to be reported to their home country.
• Impose a global alternative minimum tax on multinational corporations to undercut their incentive to dodge national taxes.
• Stop recognizing dictators as entitled to sell “their” country’s natural resources, and to incur debts on its behalf.
• Impose a fee on protectionist subsidies both to discourage them and to compensate poor populations for the export opportunities they destroy.
• Curtail the delivery of arms into the developing world.
• Tax greenhouse gas emissions for development.
• Allow pharmaceutical innovators to be rewarded from public funds for the health impact of their product if they agree to sell it at or below manufacturing cost.
• Allow agricultural and green innovators to be rewarded from public funds for the nutritional and ecological impact of their innovation provided they license it for free around the world.
Only by changing the rules that generate and maintain vast global inequality can we actually realize the proclaimed ambition of our political leaders to end severe poverty by 2030. We must address its root causes, rather than treating its symptoms under the guise of charity.

‘Wild Kingdom: Impossible Not To Love’

June 4 (UB Post) G.Batsukh, photographer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Canada, and Doctor of International Relations, released a solo exhibition at Blue Moon Art Gallery.
In recent years, he began collecting his photos and is now presenting over 50 works motivated by his passion for nature conservation.
It is regretful that we sometimes ignore the beauty of nature, and happiness of wild animals and feathered creatures. Like humans, they feel joy, pain, and love, and they take care of their offspring.
Recently it has become understood that unless we take care of them, wild animals can easily become extinct. This is the basis of understanding how humans, plants, and animals can live together.
In this exhibition, visitors can see the unique qualities and characteristics of animals from Mongolia, South Africa, Canada, New Zeland, Australia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, as captured by the artist.
During the exhibition a photography book by G.Batsukh was sold and part of its proceeds will be donated to saving the Mongolian Mazaalai bear and other conservation efforts all over the world.
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