Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mongolia Brief September 12, 2014 Part V



‘Street’ project replaces congested traffic circle with 4-way intersection
By M. Zoljargal
September 14 (UB Post) New intersection doubles number of drivers passing per hour

The traffic circle at Akhui Uilchiglee intersection in the 3rd microdistrict reopened as a four-way intersection on Thursday to reduce constant traffic congestion. The intersection was built for 4.5 billion MNT.
Drivers had to drive around the traffic circle without being able to directly cross the intersection before. Bus and trolleybus drivers found it particularly problematic.
“The previous circle was congested all the time and saw many traffic accidents. I am sure that the intersection’s congestion will decline remarkably now, especially in the morning and evening, when business hours start and end,” said a driver who was waiting for a light to change at the new intersection.
Two heating pipes under the intersection were relocated and replaced, while a 220 meter water pipe was given a protective layer. A 1,200 meter water drainage system was built at the intersection, and overhead trolleybus wires and streetlights were replaced.
In total, 28,318 square meters were hard-paved, and greenery was planted along 5,547 square meters. Sidewalks and pedestrian spaces now cover 7,565 square meters.
The intersection wasn’t entirely closed during its construction, as work took place mostly at night to avoid inconveniences for drivers and residents.
“Now, more than 500 cars pass through the intersection per hour, while the number was 200 per hour when the traffic circle was not upgraded,” says Colonel B.Batbold, Chief of the Bayangol District Traffic Police Division.
One last project left for the intersection is to relocate the memorial to the late L.Enebish, a prominent state and social figure, which was located inside the traffic circle.
“We are grateful to L.Enebish’s grandson E.Munkh-Ochir who approved the demolition of the park for the upgrade project. The memorial park will reopen in another location very soon,” explained Naranbulag Khan’s administrators.
New modern kiosk introduced
The “Street” project launched a new model of Eco TUT street kiosks at “Love Garden” at the Western Central Intersection on Thursday.
The kiosk has a bio-toilet for its salespeople, electric heating and a modern design to contribute to upgrading of the city’s image.
Street kiosks located in the city center will all be replaced with the new Eco TUT model. Vendors and kiosk owners can have professional companies build the kiosks or build it themselves, as long as they meet all safety and design standards.
The Ministry of Economic Development is coordinating the “Street” project with financing from Development Bank.

L.Erdenechuluun: Inspectors will be reshuffled
September 14 (UB Post) The following is an interview with the Head of the Ulaanbaatar Specialized Inspection Agency (USIA) L.Erdenechuluun about the USIA’s operations and other important matters.
You’ve been working as the Head of the USIA for some time. During this time, what sorts of changes have you made?
I was appointed to this position four months ago. I’ve accomplished many things during this period. Our agency carries high responsibilities and is a big family, consisting of over 570 staff, officials and 16 district branches. We not only work to provide healthy and safe environment with good quality products and services for the public but also prioritize on becoming an ethical role model.
For starters, we made some small changes in the structure and management and established a Monitoring and Evaluation Department in accordance with the Mongolian Government Resolution No.311. The USIA demands entities and organizations to establish internal audits but the USIA didn’t have its own unit for managing and monitoring operations. We established this department. I made several reforms for management issues.
Seeing that staff members and officials are civil servants, I ensured that everyone wore formal wear and identification cards around their neck, documented their names and addresses, and placed state official’s oaths and nine values, as well as the USIA’s logo at each office and room.
The main brain of an organization is the office. It has to have adequate management and regulation. Therefore, I reformed board meetings, council and meeting procedures, and issued some organizational alterations.
Newly appointed directors recruit new staff and replace or dismiss old members to build their own team. What sorts of arrangements did you make?
Team building is forming a responsible, reliable, competitive and competent team, and operating based on team management.  Instead of forming a team with external non-staff members, I prefer utilizing internal resources. Government work depends greatly on individuals. Reengineering system needs to be introduced [to Mongolia] for developing human resource policy and requirements even further. We’re making plans for this.
What was the USIA’s condition when you first received your job?
It’s important to resolve working conditions and social issues prior to demanding work results from staff and officials. The agency didn’t have sufficient amount of computers, technical equipment and workplaces. Some 170 employees out of 570 employees didn’t have their own computer or desk. When an inspector went out for an inspection, another would use their computer.
Firstly, every room in the office was refurnished. An organization’s work achievement is defined by individual development approaches. Unless you provide adequate working conditions, people will not work. Lashing out at employees and demanding results is not be productive. I’m not a person who only speaks about money to develop an organization. Some directors say that work doesn’t progress without money. More than money, if there’s will and motivation, we can accomplish any work together. Before getting funds, a competent management and team should be formulated. I think that our agency was able to make a good start in this area.
There are many suspicions about the USIA inspectors, regarding bribery and corruption. Have you witnessed such occurrences?
Truthfully, I don’t have any firsthand information or evidence of these suspicions. I can’t completely deny the existence of these actions. We receive many complaints from the public, entities and organizations that the USIA only inspects at their own convenience, views and orders. This type of discussion is spread widely within society.
In the sense that some organizations such as the Independent Authority Against Corruption operate independently from the USIA, these organizations extend their powers and set high salaries. Similarly, I think that the USIA should increase its powers and increase employee wages. Along with this, accountability system will become stricter.
Although organizations claim to be open to the public about their work, some actually aren’t transparent at all. How does the USIA focus on this area?
For ensuring transparency and open system about our operations to the public, we report about issues discussed at board meetings and irregular meeting, and its procedures via the press. We disclose information about inspections, detected violations and measures taken every week through press conferences. We also renewed our website and made all of our decisions and orders open to the public. Since especially money related issues arise many suspicions, we keep our financial documents and daily works open and accessible. Inspection outcomes used to be discussed privately but now the board meeting minutes are disclosed to the media. We started exchanging practices by holding online meetings.
Additionally, district inspection agencies are working efficiently. At the moment, heads of district inspection agencies have the same authority as department heads. I’m planning to give them more power and authority starting early 2015. People will get the capacity to work efficiently if they have authority and power. I assume work quality of both the district branches and the USIA will improve if salary and financial operations of branches in nine districts are transferred to their respective branch.
Recently, we evaluated our first half year work and encouraged branch heads. The Specialized Inspection Agency (SIA) is generous with its rewards. If one can do their work, they must receive what they deserve. This also affects people’s productivity. From the first half work assessment, while some people detected violations and sent recommendations, some people didn’t conduct a single inspection or issue a decree and still received salary. I made this information transparent and currently discussing accountability. If someone is getting paid by the state, they should do consistent amount of work.
Lately, there’ve been many accidents at construction sites. People are criticizing the SIA for not inspecting this issue. What is the USIA doing to resolve this?
Many construction related issues are coming up during this time of development and infrastructure construction. Rather than after [accident] measures, the USIA is taking precautionary, consultation and assistance measures at the construction sector. For example, since my appointment, I had the General Agency for Specialized Inspection sort out school bus issues, organized onsite training for construction workers under the subject “As a worker, you have the right to be provided with favorable working conditions”, and gave professional and technical advices. Currently, 1,635 workers of 82 entities of the construction sector received training.
The USIA doesn’t work for 24 hours a day, like emergency services and the police. When an accident happens at night, we have to work immediately after getting a notice. For this, we recently established an emergency team.  This team will work for 24 to 48 hours. We organized and scheduled state inspectors into this team. Everything, including who and how things will be handled when a notice is given, is determined and clear. Inspectors will provide services on call.
I made some reforms in the auto car park of the agency. Every car of the USIA was repaired, given license plates and included in the license restriction. Especially since we started receiving more complaints and inspection work, the agency is low on cars. I submitted requests and proposals to associate organization about this matter.
How are operations progressing in general?
The USIA does scheduled and non-scheduled inspection at 28 areas within the capital city. Inspections must be truthful, practical and efficient. State inspectors have to stimulate inspection work, take measures to eliminate conflicts and give warnings, precautions and information about inspections to the public. The USIA reshuffled its employees just recently. Employees of the SIA should be reshuffled every three years. We completed the reshuffling of inspectors working in one place or a district for a long time. This will not hinder inspection works and resolve the issues of inspecting an acquaintance’s entity.
The USIA aims to conduct inspections truthfully and efficiently, and provide residents with quick, efficient and transparent services. We’re keeping stable cooperation with the media about these issues.
Source: http://mongolne`ws.mn/1aml

Mongolia welcomes back world champion S.Tserenchimed
By M. Zoljargal
September 14 (UB Post) The Mongolian national team of female freestyle wrestlers arrived at Chinggis Khaan International Airport on Saturday night after competing at the World Wrestling Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
O.Amartuvshin, vice president of the Mongolian Wrestling Federation (MWF), G.Usukhbayar, vice president of Aldar Sports Committee and Ts.Khosbayar, State Honored Athlete, as well as families and friends of the team welcomed the athletes.
Upon arrival, the newly crowned world champion, S.Tserenchimed, said, “I’m happy that I won the world championship title with four victories, but at the same time, I feel like I have a lot more responsibilities now. My intensive training in Japan prior to the World Championships helped me adapt to managing overloads and trained me for showing everything I have. I will keep trying my best in the future.”
Both women’s and men’s national teams of Mongolia ranked sixth in the championships. It was the men’s team’s first time making the top six out of 60 countries in the past 27 years, while the women’s team ranked sixth out of 46 countries.
“Our team of female wrestlers showed promising achievements in the World Championships this year. A Mongolian wrestler was crowned champion for the first time in four years and State Honored Athlete O.Burmaa won her third World Championships medal,” said a MWF spokesperson.
The athletes brought two medals from the championships for the first time since 1985.
The Japanese women’s team topped the rank with 55 points, while the Russian team ranked second with 48 points, followed by the United States team with 41 points.
Both teams of Mongolia qualified to the 2015 World Wrestling Championships.

Minister underlines folk storytelling at King Epic Palace opening
September 14 (UB Post) Minister of Culture Ts.Oyungerel underlined the importance of traditional story telling at the launch ceremony of King Epic Palace, which took place in Bogdkhaan Palace Museum on Thursday.
“King Epic Palace will help to preserve the traditions and promote folklores. The opening of this palace is a big contribution to the implementation of the government action plan on the development of Mongolian epics’ Arts,” said Minister Ts.Oyungerel, during the opening.
“I asked from storytellers what I need to do to establish an epics palace, during a meeting in provinces. They said, ‘We need a Mongolian ger. From an ancient time, traditional storytellers told stories in gers. An apartment doesn’t suit storytelling.’ The blueprint was made a year ago. Bogdkhaan Palace Museum took responsible for musical instruments.”
The opening event of the palace was co-organized by the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Center for Cultural Heritage and administration of Bogdkhaan Palace Museum.
The officials said that more than 50 million MNT was spent on King Epic Palace’s decorations and to purchase musical instruments.
Minister Ts.Oyungerel, head of the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ts.Tsendsuren, director of the Center for Cultural Heritage G.Enkhbat, and traditional storytellers, throat singers and administrators of art organizations took part in the event.
State morinkhuur player Ts.Tserendorj recited a traditional blessing poem at the opening ceremony and played morinkhuur.
“Preparation work to establish King Epic Palace started a year ago. Folk storytellers and tsuur (Mongolian traditional instrumental) players have prepared for six years… Mongolian epics is a tradition of tale telling about protecting the mother earth, the ways of living in harmony with nature, patriotism, families and nation’s historic pride, and of better upbringing of the younger generations,” said Minister Ts.Oyungerel.
Officials noted that audio and video records and manuscripts related to Mongolian epics will be collected at the palace.

Necessary steps and deficiency in governance
September 14 (UB Post) Mongolia recently hosted high-level visits from our two neighboring countries. In terms of significance and timing, there was a lot to swallow and digest as the presidents of Mongolia’s eternal neighbors visited us with a short window of time between the two visits.
President Xi Jinping’s visit and the speech he gave will be important in addressing the lack of trust that has defined Sino-Mongolian relations. Transit transport access and the use of China’s seaports were made available to Mongolia. The agreements on power and infrastructure can potentially bring a huge boost to economic cooperation between the two countries. Please refer to the article “Seeing the moonlight from a waterfront pavilion” to read about what Mongolia should bear in mind after this historic visit.
President Putin’s half-day visit and the speech he gave will be important in removing the lack of understanding that has defined Russian-Mongolian relations. Resolving long-awaited issues such as restoring visa-free travel, adding another track to the railway, and introducing a railway electrification system will supposedly bring quality improvements to both economies and trade turnover between Mongolia and Russia. Please refer to the article titled “Mr Putin, tear down the glass wall” to read about where the lack of understanding comes from.
The major challenge after the two high-level visits is whether our government can implement everything that what was discussed and agreed upon. The governments of our two neighbors are steady, high-performing institutions with strong, focused leadership. The institution of our government can be described as low-performing and less efficient because the institutional structure is completely changed and entire government staff is almost fully replaced every four years after parliamentary elections.
As the structure of our government and management system are changed for the interests of political parties rather than national interests, it has become nearly impossible to devise Mongolia’s long-term development policy and implement the mid- and short-term actions that have been planned. It can be seen from the speech Prime Minister Altankhuyag gave two days ago. He said, “Today I would like to announce that I am planning a reshuffling of the cabinet and will propose it to the parliament in the fall session, in order to make the ‘reform’ government more efficient, diligent, responsible, and energetic. The reshuffle will include some ministers and a change to the structure of the government.” There really is a deficiency of governance in Mongolia. The recurrent economic declines in Mongolia have political roots and are caused by faults in policy.
Considering the current situation of the executive branch, it is clear that the Prime Minister has no other choice. It looks like he is proposing the reshuffle before the parliament did. However, when “making the government more efficient, diligent, and responsible”, it will not be enough to make slight changes to the structure of the cabinet. The root cause of Mongolia’s deficiency of governance is political party funding and campaign finance being unknown, not only to the public but also to the regular members of political parties. It is no secret that the individuals and companies that provide political parties with their funding are the ones who order what policy should come from Mongolia’s government, while purchasing state seats and positions. Listing political parties by the weighted number of votes they’ve received and using the public budget to finance political parties that have seats in the parliament will actually have fewer costs for Mongolians and be less expensive compared to the funds that are currently being lost to corruption. This is the first step. If the first step is made, it will be easier to truly separate the legislative and executive branches (which has been talked about for many years without any action) and ensure the transition from “double deel” to “single deel” policy in government. If they start wearing single deels, the current corruption, the biggest roadblock in our way forward, will be considerably reduced. Another step is to prioritize private companies in the selection of companies working on many big projects that have been agreed upon with Russia and China. If a state-owned company is to be involved, it should be explicitly stated that they should be made share-holding companies beforehand.
The biggest weakness of Mongolia’s public governance is that government institutions are not capable of strengthening as an institution and producing efficient performance results. The shortcut to making those institutions stronger and more professional is to seek assistance from our “third neighbors”. Our ministries and agencies should strongly establish their structure using international standards, while laws should be made so that the structure cannot be changed so frequently. Also, it ought to be ensured that ministries and agencies align their operations in the most efficient way. Otherwise, we will never overcome this governance deficiency. Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore have significantly increased the efficiency of their governance using the same approach. Mongolia needs laws that define the scope of work for the role of a minister. The ministers need to be technocrats who have foreign language skills, proper education and knowledge. If the huge projects agreed upon with our two neighbors start before these measures are taken, the current conflicts of interest will only deepen and it will become more difficult to resolve them. Ultimately, it will negatively affect our relations with China and Russia.
Trans. by B.AMAR
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