Monday, August 25, 2014

Mongolia Brief August 22, 2014 Part IV

MPs attend opening of Japanese-Mongolian calligraphy exhibition
August 24 (UB Post) For the 40th anniversary of Mongolian-Japanese cultural relations, the joint calligraphy exhibition “Sky, Sun and Partnership” opened at Blue Moon Art Gallery.

MP, Leader of the DP, and Chairman of the Mongolian Japanese Parliamentary Group D.Erdenebat; MP and Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism TS.Oyungerel; MP and  Minister of Education and Science L.Gantumur; MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold; and MPs Su.Batbold, S.Odontuya, M.Batchimeg and B.Garamgaibaatar attended the opening of the exhibition.
The organizers underline that the exhibition is unique, as the list of calligraphers includes public figures such as Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj, PM N.Altankhuyag and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
The exhibition consists of almost 100 compositions and shows the scope of bilateral partnership relations and symbols of the two nations’ friendship. Through words, phrases and lines of poetry, the exhibition captures hopes for peace and friendship through  elegant Mongolian and Japanese calligraphy.
The Office of Media and Public Relations of Parliament reports that the exhibition will be organized in Japan in November.

Prime Minister attends aerocrete factory launch
August 24 (UB Post) Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag gave a speech at the opening ceremony of a lightweight concrete factory of Dorniin Tsas LLC.
The government hopes to use domestic raw material to manufacture final products in Mongolia to balance the foreign trade deficit of Mongolia.
Dorniin Tsas’s new concrete factory has the capacity to produce 200,000 cubic meters of aerocrete a year, which is approximately 30 percent of Mongolia’s demand. Mongolia imports around 2,000-3,000 wagons of concrete from overseas a year.
“We have to congratulate to Dorniin Tsas LLC for commencing a factory that is able to produce 30 percent of the concrete demanded in the Mongolian market,” stated the Prime Minister, during the opening.
N.Altankhuyag also stressed that Mongolia’s infrastructure sector requires around 600 cubic meters of concrete a year and now that Dorniin Tsas has opened its factory, with the help of other domestic concrete producers such as MAC Company, Mongolia can supply its own demand. “We can clearly see that Mongolia is becoming a producer country,” he added.
The construction work of the factory started in 2013. The factory owners said that it is environmentally sustainable as it recycles water and will not produce waste or fumes. Over 60 people will work at the factory, added the director of Dorniin Tsas, A.Amartuvshin.

PM advisor L.Gansukh addressed letter to find out the truth
August 24 (UB Post) Prime Minister’s advisor L.Gansukh was jailed in Tuv Province on July 29, on suspicion of embezzling 3.6 billion MNT from a local coal project.
L.Gansukh wrote a letter to the President of Mongolia, State General Prosecutor Office, National Human Rights Commission and head of the Democratic Party.
“The Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) defamed and blamed me for embezzling billions of MNT from the ‘Coal’ project. The advisor’s position has no right to make decisions on especially approving and spending money from the budget. The company which advertized the project has no relevance to me and my daughter.  The IAAC is trying to connect two irrelevant bank accounts to me,” he wrote in the letter.
“I have worked in this project to manage and supervise the cooperation between the state organizations and private companies, in accordance with the Minister ordered. Commissioner Zoljargal of the IAAC gave verdict in accordance with the 273 Clause of the budget allocation and 150 Clause of the Criminal Code, and the court sentenced me to two months in prison.”
He also included information about the Coal project.
“Over 163 points for selling coal were established and contracted companies sold a ton of coal for 80,000 MNT, adding all the cost, according to MGLSB LLC,” L.Gansukh said.
“From 2013 to 2014, MGLSB LLC lent 800,000 million MNT from the state to pay taxes, bank loans and preparation work for selling coal, which was issued by the state on September, 2013. The company paid the debt separately in December 2013 and February 2014. But the IAAC defamed me by claiming that I have taken all these money for myself.”
“Within two years of the Coal project, not a single tugrug was released from the state and the project kept 50 billion MNT in the residents’ pockets,” he added.
L.Gansukh claimed that the inspectors of the IAAC used many “dirty tricks”. He accused the IAAC of spreading false information about him throughout the press media and influencing to social psychology.
According to the Prime Minister’s advisor, the commissioner of the IAAC called the advisor to sign documents on July 29 and said it was unnecessary for him to call his attorney on the day that L.Gansukh was jailed.
The commissioner introduced many verdicts and lot of men forced him to be detained for 16 hours, wrote L.Gansukh.

Financial losses from 106 revoked mining licenses to be estimated
August 24 (UB Post) Last year, 106 mineral exploration licenses determined to be improperly granted by authorities, including former chairman of the Mineral Resource Authority D. Batkhuyag, were revoked. Companies claiming to have lost huge amounts of money in these projects due to the mistakes of state officials have been asking the government, Parliament and relevant authorities to pay special attention to the dispute and settle it without further damages for former license holders. It was decided that the revoked licenses would be re-tendered in amendments to the Minerals Law approved by the government in July.
Below is an interview with Chief of the Policy Implementation Regulatory Agency of the Ministry of Mining, B.Batkhuu, on the re-tendering process of the 106 licenses.
When will the previously revoked 106 licenses be re-tendered? Can you brief us on the process?
Prior to opening tenders for the 106license areas, former license holders should have the costs they invested analyzed and insured by our working group. An initial re-tendering price will be determined on the basis of the cost insured, and former license holders and other third parties will re-tender on a competitive tender basis. Accordingly, the Ministry of Mining appointed a working group for this project. As of today, 14 companies have had their initial re-tendering prices determined and tendering for the areas is ready to be launched. Also, the tendering will be announced through public media in accordance with the relevant regulations.
Can you provide more details on the initial tendering price?
The former license holders don’t have to place any collateral in an account. However, other third parties have to place 30 percent of the initial tendering price and compete. An evaluation commission will evaluate all the proposals and grant licenses to the selected bidders.
Does that mean the former license holders will receive compensation whether they are selected or not?
According to regulations, bidders will have a chance to compete for tender after placing 30 percent of the initial tendering price. If they are selected, they will have to place the remaining 70 percent in the account. If a former license holder isn’t selected, the cost the company previously invested will be returned. In other words, compensation will be granted in either case. If a former license holder is selected, the company can immediately continue its previous exploration work.
Exactly when will the re-tendering begin?
In the first round, re-tendering for areas where initial tendering prices are confirmed will be announced through public media, and companies can gather the required materials and send their proposals within 30 days, according to the relevant law. Subsequently, the evaluation commission will evaluate the proposals and rank them. The company with the highest score will be selected and notified. If a new company is selected, the company will have to deposit the remaining 70 percent of the tendering price, and a license will be granted.

Mongol Bank signs new agreement with the People’s Bank of China
August 24 (UB Post) Governor of Mongol Bank N.Zoljargal and Governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan signed a new agreement to expand bilateral currency swap facilities from 10 billion CNY to 15 billion CNY, on August 21.
The new agreement will take immediate effect and will be effective for three years. Establishment of the new agreement annuls the previous 10 billion CNY bilateral currency swap agreement established on May 6, 2011, and extended on May 14, 2014.
The expansion of the currency swap agreement between Mongol Bank and the People’s Bank of China is crucial in helping to provide liquidity and for maintaining the stability of the financial market when necessary. The new agreement aims to stimulate trade and investment between the two nations.
China has been Mongolia’s largest trading partner and investor for the past 10 years, with bilateral trade volume reaching 5.4 billion USD in 2013, and the CNY is the second-most used currency for cross border payments between China and Mongolia.
According to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, CNY ranked as the seventh most active currency for global payments and accounted for 1.55 percent of payments worldwide. It overtook the Euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance after the U.S. dollar last year.

1000 miles across the west
By A. Oyunzul
August 24 (UB Post) Every summer, residents of Ulaanbaatar head for countryside, to pay homage to their fatherlands. Mongolians usually travel with their family and friends. I travelled with my friend’s family to the west from July 28th to August 5th.
Just before the sunrise, our small team got into our car for a trip that we don’t know the duration yet. Mongolians believe that planning ahead for a short-term travel is bad luck. So while the city was still slumbering, we rode to the western part of the city. Our destination: Zavkhan Province. It is located in the west side of the country, named after the Zavkhan River. The province is in an awkward location, and very few travelers are likely to pass through much or any part of Zavkhan. But with our skilled driver Zoya, our trip would be smooth.
By afternoon, we reached the capital of Arkhangai Province, Tsetserleg city. The main street of Tsetserleg was bustling with cars from Ulaanbaatar; travelers stop by to get fuel. Convenience stores are lined up one after another, and people are waiting in queue in a bank. The local market is busy with shambling cars and people in a rush. Driving around the city, you will find hotels, hospitals, schools, and a movie theatre. A few decades later the city might become as populous as Ulaanbaatar, as it gradually develops.
After an hour drive, we came across the Chuluut River (stony river). It flows through 20m-deep steep canyon of basaltic rock, magma flew from the Khorgo volcano and other volcanoes nearby, for about 100km from the river-mouth of Teel River till Atsat River. Chuluut River is also renowned for its fishery.
Paved road also ends here, though the road construction is still on the go, bumpy roads and rocky hills wait for us. By 6 p.m. we passed Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, also known as White Lake. The lake is 16 kilometers wide, 4 to 10 meters deep, and 20 kilometers in length. The legend says the lake was formed when an elderly couple forgot to cap a well after fetching water. The valley flooded with water until a local hero shot a nearby mountain top with his arrow: the shorn top covered with well and become an island in the lake. The lake was featured get away location on CNN in 2011.
East of the lake, lays the Khorgo volcano. As we drove through the volcanic rocks flew from the mountain, our driver explained that there aren’t any lake in this crater, but in the winter, clouds of steam jet out of its crevices forming ice mould. And if you look from a distance, it looks like large flocks of sheep scattered on the mountain.
Late in the evening, we camped near the shore of a lake in a town of Tsakhir. Leader of our team told us tomorrow’s destination will be Otgontenger Mountain. Ideally, we were not planning to visit the mountain. But decided it will be a good opportunity and getting there without someone who is familiar with the road is difficult, as the mountain is quite a challenge to reach. So we slept with a hope we will reach the sacred mountain by tomorrow evening.
We head out early in the next morning. As I watched the scenery passes by, clouds and rocks began to take forms of various animals. Like Dali’s paintings, giant dinosaur rocks will lay silently as if they are in deep slumber, crocodile clouds peering at you above the sky.
As we stopped near the border of Otgon soum, we could see the faint Peak of Otgontenger Mountain from miles away. According to our driver, the mountain doesn’t show its peak to every traveler, hiding behind hills upon hills, a sign of good luck. Temperature drops rapidly, and cold wind blows at every direction. Encouraged by the view, we headed for the mountain as fast as we could. On the way, we encountered some interesting architecture of nature, such as the rock with a hole in it that looks like a giant chopping knife, and a rocky castle.
Because one of our members injured her hand, we stop at a local nomadic family for bandages and horses, as you have to trek by horse to the mountain. Dealt with the family for 30000 MNT per horse, horses will arrive tomorrow morning near the mountain.
Few miles down the road, we came into the Otgontenger strictly protected area. At 8 p.m. we had finally reached the main gate, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The sacred mountain was covered in mist and clouds at its mystery. As if to illuminate the fact that we are in the presence of the highest peak of Khangai Mountains, cold wind blows through the high pressed air. When the night comes, I sit on top of the hill as a starland of whorls, clouds, and pinpricks cover somber darkness. There are no sign of life beside our tents, its silence so deep you could only hear the wind noise. We slept until sunrise.
The sun shines upon the mountain. The sky is clear without a trace of clouds. Perfect day for a pilgrimage. Otgontenger is the highest peak of Khangai Mountains range, the only mountain that is capped with a glacier, and its height is considered to be 3905m.
It is one of the nine state-worshipped mountains in Mongolia. Worshipping these mountains began during Khunnu times, and this tradition continues today. Every four years, President of Mongolia will pay homage to the mountain, and travelers come from every direction of the country.
Inside the gate, statue of Ochirvaani Bodhisattva (Vajrapāói), the deity of Otgontenger Mountain, stands tall on a hill. Many sacred mountains in Mongolia are said to have ferocious deities. After saying our prayers, we drove for the bridge, a place where our horses will arrive. The wooden bridge is over a small river. Originating from the sacred mountain itself, the water tastes sweeter than any mineral water in supermarkets. Also, Mongolians believe that washing your feet in a cold river is good for health.
Once, on a slope of the mountain, we offered our oblations (fresh milk and candies) and prayed for our family, health, success, anything good you wish. According to tradition, only men are permitted to go to downhill of Otgontenger and women have to stay behind. So men on our team head over to the lake that is right before the mountain, Badarkhundaga. Mongolians have a tradition to offer their silver bowls and silver-works to the lake, wishing for good luck in the future. Around the mountain, saussurea, juniper, Large Pink, liquorice, roseroots, and 400 other medicinal herbs grow. Trekking with a horse will take up an hour to reach, and the guys arrived to their cars over two hours later. The wife of the gamekeeper said, “All kinds of people come here every summer, politicians, businessmen, and tourists. Some tourists will camp here for a week to take a photo. Sometimes, one minute the sky was clear, and then a few moments’ later clouds will loom over the mountain, making it impossible to take a photo. And for some people, the mountain will show its peak without any trouble.” According to her, we were fortunate enough to see the mountain in its full view. As we departed, I kept looking back at the spectacular view that every Mongolian wishes to see. It was definitely one of the highlight of our journey.
Next on the journey; Uliastai city, Lake Khar, and Kharkhorum city

Sage advice for allergy season
August 24 (UB Post) With the change in seasons, people across the country suffer from plant allergies. We spoke with Dr. S.Yanjmaa, a dermatologist and allergy specialist with the National Dermatology Center about allergens and treating symptoms.
Plant allergies get worse at this time of year. Can you tell us why?
Allergic diseases are called development diseases, because allergies are connected to urbanization, industrialization, and population density. Allergies are not only a Mongolian issue, they affect the whole world. Allergies are divided into two groups: allergens that are inhaled and those that affect the skin. Inhaled allergens are sensitive to the seasons.
The number of people who are allergic to pollen and dust increases during the warm season. Woody plant allergies start from the middle of April to the beginning of June, segmented plant allergies begin from June 1 to the end of July, and weed allergies start in the middle of July.
Skin prick testing has to be done in order to know what types of allergies you have, but this test is prohibited for some people, such as pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and children.  After taking the test, doctors will give instructions on what medicines have to be taken.
Unfortunately, people buy medicines and drops from the pharmacy without receiving any advice from doctors. This causes negative effects in medical treatment and some difficulties. So, patients have to take advice from professional doctors.
What steps have to be followed to avoid allergy symptoms?
This issue is a really broad concept. City improvement organizations and residents have to cooperate to avoid allergies. For instance, the proper trees and shrubs have to be planted, and weed elimination has to start before July 1, because extinguishing weeds after they’ve flowered leads to more people experiencing allergy symptoms, and they can’t be prevented. Doctors advise avoiding the elimination of weeds after they’ve flowered.
You mentioned that a skin test is not available for children. So, in this case, what measures should be taken?
First of all, parents must warn their children not to play in or pick up grass and plants. Also, children have to avoid carbonated beverages, yellow-colored beverages and fruits, spicy plants and flavoring.
Naphazoline nose drops are frequently used in the treatment of allergies. Is this a good choice?
Even though these drops treat blocked nasal passages, it narrows blood vessels in the nose, and after prolonged use it negatively effects mucus production.  The following symptoms can arise: loss of sense of smell, bloody noses and sneezing without the influence of allergens.
How many kinds of weeds exist in Mongolia?
Over 50 wormweeds exist in our country and put city residents at risk for allergies. Most of our patients are under 40. This year, drastic reactions to plant allergies have been few, but there are a number of people who have drastic reactions to sun exposure. People have to protect themselves from the sun very well, but in the city, protection from dust is really difficult even if people wear masks. A campaign to eliminate weeds has to be conducted in the future.
Is this true that allergies can become asthma when they get worse?
If an allergy is treated incorrectly or isn’t treated for a long time, it can become asthma.
People use grasshopper remedies and smell burning weeds. Are these reliable methods to treating allergy symptoms?
There are naturally occurring chemical substances in grasshoppers and it has been observed that using a grasshopper remedy can be useful if patients use it before an allergy breaks out.
But burning weeds and smelling them causes more difficulties.
How are allergies treated in Mongolia?
One standard is used all over the world. A more suitable treatment is antioxidants used for treating allergy symptoms and drops used based on a patient’s condition.
Does a poor immune system experience more allergies?
An allergy is created from the immune system’s excessive reaction to an allergen. A more activated immune system can aggravate a patient’s condition.  Even though a poor immune system can be the basis of all pains, it can be accelerated by an allergy. The most important thing for balancing the immune system is a healthy environment, food and relaxation.
Can you suggest anything else for our readers?
Vitamins can be used before allergy symptoms have risen, but they are unnecessary when symptoms have already broken out. When the warm season comes, people’s diets change. Mongolians consume excessive amounts of airag and vodkas. These irritate allergies. Consuming healthy food and practicing relaxation are essential to healing allergies.
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