Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mongolia Brief December 19, 2014 Part III

Minister of Roads and Transportation Meets Ambassador of
Japan to Mongolia
December 19 ( On December 18, 2014, Minister of Roads and Transportation Mr. Namkhai TUMURKHUU received in his office the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia Mr. Takenori Shimizu.

During the meeting, Minister N.Tumurkhuu underlined that the Government of Japan has sustainably contributing to the development of Mongolia’s infrastructure and noted the bilateral relations in the sector have been broadening mentioning that the new International Airport at Khushigt Valley in Tuv Aimag has been successfully implementing and concluding the meeting, parties emphasized to cooperate actively.

Pupils of Secondary Schools to Have 6-Week Winter Holiday
December 19 ( The second winter holiday of secondary schools throughout the country starts and lasts various depending on grades and locations, where school holidays in the capital city will start from December 20, 2014.
In Ulaanbaatar, pupils of elementary classes (1-5 grades) to have winter break for six weeks from December 20, 2014 until January 26, 2015. Pupils of middle classes (6- 9) on January 03-26, 2015 and students of senior classes (10-12) on January 10-26, 2015.
In provincials regions, pupils of elementary classes to have also six-week winter breaks, but from January 10 until February 09, 2015 and pupils of middle classes from January 26 until February 09th and students of senior classes from January 31 to February 09, 2015.
The difference between city and rural areas is due to increasing of cold diseases and during this period, livestock deliver offsprings and thus it is convenient time for both children and parents.

Law on library adopted
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 19 (MONTSAME) The plenary meeting of parliament on December 19 adopted the law on library.
According to the introduction of the draft law, made by member of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Sciences Yo.Otgonbayar, the law consists of seven chapters and 27 sections. It will regulate the legal persons in charge of library services of all 1,509 libraries, their responsibilities and rights, legal status and activities of the National Library, ensuring of the customers’ rights, and other related interactions.
"The above matters have been addressed differently in regards of the variety of governance, adjustment between the sectors, archives’ registrations and accounting, the services for readers and storage conditions. “A few historic cultural masterpieces in libraries were registered and conserved in accordance with the Law on Cultural Heritage, however, other hand writings and sutras owned by individuals and private libraries have been beyond reach of the legal regulation,” said the MP.
The initiator of the draft considers that the adopting of the law will achieve success in satisfaction of international standards of the libraries, improving access to information for the public, and improving the quality of services to meet the intellectual needs of the people.
The law was adopted on its final reading, with approval vote of 82.1 percent.

Ban Ki-moon's message for the International Human Solidarity Day
By N. Khaliun
Ulaanbaatar, December 19 (MONTSAME) “This year’s observance of International Human Solidarity Day comes as the world shapes a new sustainable development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, the largest anti-poverty campaign in history, by 2015”, the official website of the United Nations reports.
“Member States, the United Nations system, experts, representatives of civil society, business executives and millions of individuals from all corners of the globe, have come together with a shared sense of purpose to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
“The new agenda will centre on people and planet. It will be underpinned by human rights and supported by a global partnership determined to lift people from poverty, hunger and disease. It will be built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.”
“The United Nations believes that solidarity with people affected by poverty and an absence of human rights is vital.  Based on equality, inclusion and social justice, solidarity implies a mutual obligation across the global community.”
“As we map our future development path, we must be firm in our commitment to champion solidarity and shared responsibility as part of the sustainable development agenda. These are fundamental values that must be upheld.”
“Only through collective action can we address such far reaching issues as poverty and growing inequality, climate change, chronic poverty and major health challenges, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”
“On International Human Solidarity Day, I call for a renewed commitment to collective action. Let us act together as one to end poverty, achieve shared prosperity and peace, protect the planet and foster a life of dignity for all”, the UN Secretary-General's message says.

World Bank Urges Mongolia to Boost Resilience of Slowing Economy
ULAANBAATAR, December 18, 2014—(World Bank) Vulnerabilities in the Mongolian economy demand actions to bolster its resilience, according to the World Bank’s latest Mongolia Economic Update.
Economic growth slowed in 2014 as high inflation and a persistent current account deficit weighed on domestic demand. Inflation eased recently as the economy has cooled, but remains in double digits.
The current account deficit, which reached close to 30 percent of GDP in 2011-13, is expected to drop to around 11 percent of GDP in 2014. However, the balance of payments pressure remains high, due in part to declining foreign investment.
Without a strong rebound in foreign investment, pressure on the balance of payments will increase vulnerabilities and continue to dampen economic growth next year.  Domestic demand will continue to be under pressure, particularly affecting the non-mining sector.
The report also cites deterioration in the quality of bank loans and urges closer attention to the financial strength of the banking system because of its importance to the economy.
“The measures needed to put the Mongolian economy on a firmer footing are not easy and will take time to show full effect, but they will strengthen the resiliency of Mongolia’s economy, providing the basis for prosperity in the future,” said James Anderson, the World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. “We welcome the new government’s frank and forthright acknowledgement of the current state of the economy and its resolve to address Mongolia’s challenges, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
External factors could compound Mongolia’s challenges, according to the report. Global commodity markets are expected to remain weak, with prices of major commodities projected to decline further. Meanwhile, a slowing economy in China, Mongolia’s main trade partner, will also dampen demand.
“The urgent priority now is to tighten economic policy to address the persistent pressure on the balance of payments,” said Taehyun Lee, the World Bank Senior Economist for Mongolia. “This will also help strengthen the capacity of fiscal and monetary policy to cope with headwinds in the future,”
Lee cited an “overly expansionary” economic policy during a period of strong growth and foreign investment after 2011.
“The pro-cyclical approach that was adopted fueled unsustainable pressure on the balance of payments and high inflation, and contributed to a weakening of the banking system,” he said.
The report welcomed recent steps by the Central Bank to raise the policy interest rate and gradually reduce lending programs including the Price Stabilization Program. The Central Bank also strengthened some regulations on the financial sector to respond to the declining quality of bank assets, although the report called for more strengthening of prudential regulations. 
In the report, the World Bank urges further actions to tighten monetary policy, especially by avoiding direct Central Bank injections into the economy.
The report calls for off-budget spending to be brought under control and recommends that that all spending by the Development Bank of Mongolia be included in the budget. 
It also calls for more realistic revenue projections than the overly optimistic predictions of the past, as well as a credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan to strengthen confidence in deficit reduction.
In particular, Mongolia needs to prepare now to refinance or repay its external public debt of $1.08 billion in 2017 and 2018. Without tighter economic policies and renewed foreign direct investment, the economy will remain vulnerable, the report noted.

Stock Exchange news for December 19
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, December 19 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Friday, a total of 1,719 thousand units of 16 JSCs were traded costing MNT two million 716 thousand and 720.
"Khokh gan” /652 thousand units/, “State Department Store” /355 units/, “Arig gal” /300 units/, “Makh impex” /100 units/ and "Tavantolgoi” /90 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "Arig gal” (MNT 705 thousand), "Mongol keramik” (MNT 450 thousand), “Makh impex” (MNT 374 thousand and 993), “Tavantolgoi” (MNT 360 thousand) and "Shive ovoo” (MNT 255 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 422 billion 188 million 130 thousand and 781. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 14,703.44, decreasing 561.14 units or 3.68% against the previous day.

Mongolia ranked 88th in Press Freedom Index
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, December 19 (MONTSAME) Mongolia has been ranked 88th place with 30.3 points in this year’s Press Freedom Index which has been released by the Reporters Without Borders international NGO.
The index of Mongolia for this year scaled up 10 places against the previous year. Mongolia was listed at 98th place in 2013 and 100th place in 2012.
The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where freedom of information is non-existent. Despite occasional turbulence in the past year, these countries continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them.
This year’s index covers 180 countries, one more than last year. The new entry, Belize, has been assigned an enviable position (29th). Cases of violence against journalists are rare in Belize but there were some problems: defamation suits involving demands for large amounts in damages, national security restrictions on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and sometimes unfair management of broadcast frequencies.
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