Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mongolia Brief February 5, 2015 Part I

Resolution will be submitted on "Measures for overcoming economic difficulties"
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet of Ministers held an irregular meeting on Wednesday in regard to the completion of the public poll to choose Mongolia’s developmental way.

The Ministers discussed a parliamentary draft resolution on "Measures required for overcoming economic difficulties" and decided to submit it to parliament. After the meeting, The Premier Ch.Saikhanbileg made a statement and thanked the people for actively taking part in the poll. A total of 365,841 citizens participated in the poll that took place between 10 am of January 31 and 10 pm of February 3.
The first option about forwarding Oyu Tolgoi and other large construction projects to revive the national economy was preferred by 56.1 percent of the poll participants, the second one about minimizing expenses and putting discipline over the economy was chosen by 43.9 percent. "Therefore, the Government will pursue a forwarding of the construction projects and straightening budgetary and financial policies and reducing budget deficit,” said the PM and hoped that parliament will support the cabinet’s actions.
This draft will be submitted to parliament along with the action plan for stabilizing the macroeconomic conditions and ensuring realistic economic growth, he said. "The time has come to prioritize our country’s interests and to lessen politics," he added.

Cabinet offers amendments to Law on Mineral Resources
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) The irregular meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday resolved to submit to parliament these draft amendments regarding the matters of royalties and State ownerships in the deposits of strategic importance.
According to the Law on Mineral Resources, 15 sites were identified as the deposits of strategic importance pursuant to resolution No.27 of 2007. A defining of the percentages of state ownership is regulated by agreements on site exploitation. Today, the state ownership has been realized through state-owned companies at mines such as Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan tolgoi, Shivee Ovoo, Baganuur and Erdenet. In times of nowadays economic situation, it is required to earn the yield from these deposits and increase the state profit according to current rates in order to ease the financial pressure on the state budget and to boost the projects' implementation. To do so, the draft initiators want to create a legal environment that allows to collect a certain amount of payment from license-owners for keeping percentages of state ownership, and to charge royalties on the exploitation of minerals for specific use. Amounts of the payment will be set up by the Government upon agreements with license-owners and in view of feasibility studies, effectiveness, investments, resources and commercial revenue from the sites.

School buildings to be renovated with Japanese aid
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) Buildings of seven secondary schools in localities will be renewed this year under non-refundable aid from the government of Japan in frames of the Grassroots-Ensuring Human Safety programme.
A related cooperation memorandum was signed Wednesday by the co-implementers of the project. Accordingly, some USD 630 thous. will go to the schools located in Khovd, Khentii, Selenge, Arkhangai, Dundgobi, Darkhan-Uul and Uvs aimags.
Implemented by the government of Japan, the Grassroots programme launched in 1989 with a key purpose of ensuring multilateral needs of developing countries. The programme’s aid is granted for small-sized projects on education, health and local governance through the Embassies of Japan.
The programme started in Mongolia in 1990, its aid has reached all our provinces, mainly focusing on the education. For the time being, 454 projects have been realized within this programme, over 60% of them have been dedicated to the expansion of schools and kindergartens' buildings. 

Mongolian script billboards to express Ulaanbaatar
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) The Municipality Department for General Planning commenced Tuesday in the UB city a project on replacing nameplates and billboards of entities with their copies written in the Mongolian script.
This action is reflected in the Government resolution No.37 named "Measures for improving Mongolian language and script education" and the Mayor’s direction on "Implementation of Smart Ulaanbaatar Program". The resolution obligates the governors of all administrative units to have the private and public entities written their nameplates and billboards in both Mongolian script and Cyrillic. In frames of the Smart Ulaanbaatar Program, a Brand book of the city, that allows every corner of Ulaanbaatar can be identified easily through unique style and image, is to be developed.

State organizations will begin business hours at 8:30
February 5 ( A decision to change the business hours of state organizations, universities, secondary schools, and kindergartens of the capital has been officially resolved. 
Under the new hours of operation: 
Universities and Institutes will start classes at 7:40 a.m.
Secondary school and kindergartens will start classes at 8:00 a.m.
State organizations, ministries, government agencies and subordinate organizations,
capital city organizations and implementing agencies will start business hours at 8:30 a.m.
The change has been implemented according to a decree by the Governor of Ulaanbaatar and will be effective starting February 16.
New schedule of working hours setMontsame, February 5

Parliament prolongs its autumn session
By B. Khuder
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) The parliamentary autumn session has been prolonged until February 18 in order to manage to discuss a programme submitted by the cabinet on overcoming the current economic difficulties, said the Speaker of parliament Z.Enkhbold Thursday.
Now the plenary meeting is discussing a parliamentary draft resolution on agendas to be discussed by the spring session, The draft, presented by a head of the Standing committee on state structure A.Bakei, received 11 proposals from the President of Mongolia, 13--from the Standing committee on security and foreign policy, one--from the Standing committee on environment, food and agriculture, five--from the Standing committee on social policy, education, culture and science, six--from the Standing committee on state structure, eight--from the Standing committee on budget, seven--from the Standing committee on economy, six--from the Standing committee on justice, 35--from the DP faction, 12--from the faction of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), 25--from the faction of the “Justice” coalition; and some 60--from the cabinet. Eight proposals have been given by S.Oyun, D.Ganbat and Kh.Bolorchuluun MPs.
In addition, the agendas have bills--on movable and non-material properties pledge, on public hearing, on future heritage, on family (new wording), on media freedom (new wording), on general election of Mongolia, on political party, and on financing of political party; also draft resolutions of parliament on approving a long-term policy document on development of Mongolia, as well as a state policy on sciences and technologies.
The plenary meeting is continuing.  

"Morin Khuur for beginners" DVD lessons released
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, February 5 (MONTSAME) A "Cultural Heritage of Mongol Nation and Nomads" NGO has published a book and created DVD lessons dedicated to Morin Khuur (horse-head fiddle, the Mongolian national musical instrument).
The lessons teach everything that relates to playing the instrument, for example, a structure of the instrument, a correct position, easy tones, even a simple maintenance.
The lessons are conducted by the professor of the University of Arts and Culture P.Temuujin, a winner of President’s award and a national and international Grand Prix prize winner.

GoM to take on 25 million USD loan from Asian Development Bank
February 5 ( The Government of Mongolia has decided to take out a loan of 25 million USD from Asian Development Bank.
At the joint plenary meeting of the Standing Committee on Budget and Economy today, it was decided that this loan should be pursued and the issue should be discussed at the general session of the Parliament. The terms of the loan are as follows:
Repayment term of 25 years
Interest rate of 2 percent
Total loan of 25 million USD
The loan's funds will be allocated to 20 professional training and production centers and 30 secondary schools for buying equipment.
Students at higher education institutes and vocational schools need equipment for practice and training in classroom environments. For example, students studying to pursue careers as hairstylists and in food service need equipment and materials to learn the skills required for such careers.
MP S.Ganbaatar mentioned, “To take out loans for the education sector is the right thing to do. But it needs to be clarified what percentage of the loan is going to be spent on buying equipment, because most expenses are used for salaries for foreign advisors. Moreover, there is always somebody who causes confusion and gaps by buying equipment at a total cost of 30 million MNT and reporting that the cost of the equipment was 300 million MNT."
Minister of Labor S.Chinzorig answered the MP, stating, “Seventy-three percent of the loan will be dedicated to buying equipment, three percent for advisory services, and 24 percent for operational costs.”
Twenty-two members out of 35 participated in the standing committee meeting, and the loan proposal was encouraged and approved with 100 percent of the vote.

Mongolian Television Forum organized
February 5 ( The Mongolian Television Forum has been initiated and organized for the second time by Mongol TV, this year under the slogan “Stable Development of Mongolian Television”, starting today at Blue Sky Hotel.
Representatives from foreign studios, distributors, and television broadcaster such as Bomanbridge, ITV, Deutsche Welle, Sony, IMG, Groton Media, and Asia SAT are participating to introduce their content, image, and graphic formats at the forum.
Discussion of the following topics will take place:
The stable development of Mongolian television
Ethics of TV journalism
How to create broadcasting that meets international standards
HR and future perspectives for Mongolian televisions
Content trends in television around the world
An exhibition of foreign content, graphics, and image formats will be organized within the framework of the forum. During the exhibition, a competition will be held to select the best concept for a television show with the possibility of concluding a contract with the management of one of several televisions stations in attendance.

The Business Council of Mongolia Statement on court verdict on case related to former employees of SouthGobi Sands LLC
February 5 ( The Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) aims to make constructive contributions to enhancing the business environment in Mongolia and works to foster trade and business relations by providing a networking forum for its members.
BCM would like to make following statement in regards to the court verdict following the investigation that lasted nearly 3 years into alleged violations of Mongolian taxation law against three former employees of SouthGobi Sands LLC (SGS) and against SGS as “civil defendant”. SGS's parent company, SouthGobi Resources Ltd., is a BCM member.
According to practices in many other countries as well as clearly defined articles in Mongolian taxation laws, tax dispute can be and usually solved through civil proceedings. BCM regrets that this case has been considered as a criminal case against above legislations and the defendants received very harsh sentences of sentences ranging from 5 years and 6 months to 5 years and 10 months of imprisonment in the correctional facilities of strict regimen in Mongolia.
Additionally, as noted by officials from embassies of foreign countries who attended the trial, there were interpretation problems during the trial which may have resulted in the defendants not understand the interpretation, nor could they express themselves clearly. BCM believes anyone must have right to a fair trial including right to express themselves fully and correctly.
The people and the Government of Mongolia understand the importance of and are working hard to overcome the economic difficulties and restore foreign direct investment that has dropped 85% in recent years. At a time like this, the process of court hearing and the verdict represents how basic legal rights of foreign invested companies and foreign nationals who are working and living here can be abused and undermines all of that hard work. This has sent shockwaves across the Mongolian and international investment community who now not only investing into Mongolia but cancelling their trips to Mongolia. . One of the fundamentals of a good investment climate is certainty and the Court’s verdict has left investors with many questions about transparency, governance and the rule of law, not only for companies but also for individuals. We, as a country, should not underestimate how damaging this verdict is for the Mongolian investment outlook.
As democratic country, independent judicial system is a basis for human rights in Mongolia. However instigating a criminal case into what is considered as a usual business matter, investigating for long period of time, subjecting to travel bans and giving harsh sentences without enough supporting evidences is contrary to democracy and creates suspicion of political motivation amongst investors.
BCM believes that effective cooperation between public and private sectors, equal legal rights, fairness accountability regardless of nationality are key to development and prosperity of Mongolia.
BCM hopes that the judicial organizations of Mongolia will pay attention to this case at the appeal level and provide fair and equal access to the trial for the participants within their legal rights.
The Business Council of Mongolia
Express Tower, 12-th floor
Peace Avenue, Ulaanbaatar, 15160, Mongolia
Phone/Fax: 976-11-317027

PM Ch.Saikhanbileg: 365.000 votes were unexpected high attendance
By U. Badamtsetseg
February 5 ( "These days, I had asked the nation which route Mongolia is to choose for its Development Path for Mongolia 2015-2016 and 365.000 residents attended to the poll by texting.
Comparing to the attendance of the parliamentary election, almost half of the electors were polled. Even, residents were not responsible for voting, they involved with their heart. For me, 365.000 votes were unexpected high attendance. 
The Government considered that 56,1% of residents chose the development of bigger projects such as OT while remained 43,9% of residents obliged the Government to save on its expenditures and stabilize the exchange rates.
Therefore, I would like to say that the Government will support the biggest construction projects, arrange economic and financial policies, and decrease the budget deficit in further. 
I hope that Parliament will support the Government on this process. Cabinet meeting had discussed on measurements to cope with economic difficulty and decided to submit the draft resolution to the Parliament.
Moreover, the Government initiated key working plans to overcome economic challenges by stabilizing the macro economy and providing real economic growth. The working plans will be submitted to the Parliament with draft resolution. Thus, I highly recommend to protect the national interest and set aside the politic." he said.  

Mummified monk believed to be Geser Lama
February 5 (UB Post) News spread all over the world about the recent discovery of a mummified monk in the lotus position that was found in Ulaanbaatar. Police are investigating the man who hid the mummified monk within his fenced property in 11th khoroo of Songinokhairkhan District.
The mummy has been moved to the National Center of Forensic Expertise.
“Investigation process as well as the full examination of the mummy is still underway. A team was assigned to the case recently, which includes researchers, scientists, and the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science staff. The team will work on the issue and an official announcement will be made by them,” said the Director of the public relations at the General Police Department, Colonel B.Baatarkhuu.
The police have opened a criminal case against citizen “E” (name redacted) who hid the mummy and attempted to sell it.
The discovery of the mummy and issues revolving around it has cause much stir and alarm among many foreign researchers and scientists. Several foreign sources speculated that the mummy might be famous Lama Dashi-DorzhoItigilov. Mongolian researchers believe that the mummy is a burial of a holy person who went into the Samadhi state.
Buddhist monk G.Purevbat said, “The mummy might be a 70 to 80-year-old man from its appearance. Since the mummy was in a humid condition, its back is crooked.”
Since it’s placement at the National Center of Forensic Expertise, several visitors reportedly visited the center to pray to the mummy believing it to be a holy deity.
A man who saw the mummy said, “It looked like it was alive. There was no cold aura about it. It is wonderful that the mummy has hair, beard, hands, fingers and ears. The overall color was grey and brownish.”
Patriarch Lama of Gandantegchinlen Monastery D.Choijamtssaid that the mummy should be worshipped secretly.
“The mummy is a burial of a lama, according to its appearance, hands and the ultimate act of religious discipline. If something negative happens in a certain area, for example, a natural disaster, the burial of a person who has a high level of energy is placed at the land in order to stop the negativity. People can’t even touch this kind of burial. Instead, they must worship the mummy secretly. So the mummy might be the relic of the land where it came from,” he said.
The mummy is believed to be Geser Lama or his disciple, according to sources close to the issue. Geser Lama was buried in Tsahirsoum of Arkhangai Province. Over a year ago, there was an incident where Geser Lama’s burial was burgled. Unfortunately, related researchers didn’t fully examine the issue. Some said that the mummy might originally have been buried in Khovd Province.
The following is an interview with S.Batchuluun, believed to be a descendant of Geser Lama.
Could you please tell us about Geser Lama?
Geser Lama lived over two hundred years ago. He was one of the biggest lamas. I am the descendant of Geser Lama. The things that were used by him are placed at my home.
After he passed away, how was he buried? Some say that he was mummified.
He lived near Khukh Nuur Lake. He called all his disciples and told them to bury him in Sodnomdarjaa Mountain.
He passed away while meditating. So the disciples took him to the top of Sodnomdarjaa Mountain by camel, and buried him there in the rituals of that time.
How far is the mountain from the center of the soum?
The mountain is over 50 km away from the center of the soum. It isn’t possible to get there by a car in winter.
How do you know that Geser Lama was buried there?
I know by word of mouth. Every year many people from different soums and provinces visit the mountain to pray to the burial of Geser Lama.
How is the lama’s burial kept currently?
Holy monks used to pass away seated in the lotus position while meditating. Geser Lama was mummified in his last position and placed in a wooden box. The kurgan was filled with stones around the wooden box. Geser Lama’s disciple was buried in the same way.
A two hundred year old mummy was found in Ulaanbaatar recently. Some say that it might be the mummy of Geser Lama. What is your thought on this?
In January 28, police and intelligence agency people came to my house. They asked me to take them to the burial of Geser Lama and his disciple. They took many photographs and videos of the burial.
Did they touch the burial?
I told them not to touch the burial. If they really want to do it, they must come with researchers and related monks.
Is there any painting of Geser Lama? Did you see the photograph of the mummy that was found recently?
Yes. There is a painting of Geser Lama that I keep at home. I didn’t show that to the public. I saw the photograph of the mummy that was found. It looks familiar in some ways. Buddhist monk G.Purevbat visited the burial of Geser Lama over two years ago. At that time, I showed the portrait of Geser Lama to him. Recently, I heard that G.Purevbat said that the mummy looked similar toGeser Lama.
Does this mean that the burial of Geser Lama was touched?
I don’t know. It wasn’t changed the last time I saw it. It might be that the burial of his disciple was opened.
Can you explain why?
In the beginning of 2000, when I visited the mountain, the burial of Tsorj Sanjjav Lama was opened. His head and shoulders was left in the open.
Did it look like the mummy that was found recently?
The mummy looked very similar to the burial I saw in the mountain. But researchers and scientist will make an official statement.
Source:Unuudur sonin 
Is mummy still alive?, February 5

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