Delegation of the European Union to Colombia

MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 23 June 2020

23/06/2020 - 15:28
Mongolia – Weekly press review

DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO MONGOLIA This information is based on media reports found in the open sources/via subscription, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

COVID-19

Total number of confirmed cases was 215 and the total number of recovered patients reached 158 on 23 June. Montsame  

Five charter flights are scheduled in July to Istanbul on 9 July; Seoul on 2, 7, 15 July; Tokyo on 5 July.  Montsame 

Libraries and museums re-open on 22 June: The city government is gradually restoring operations of services and productions to support the economy of the capital city. For instance, resorts, restaurants, cafeterias, classroom training, physical culture and fitness clubs already re-opened.  Montsame

EU – Mongolia  

2019 EU report on human rights and democracy in Mongolia released: On 16 June, the Council of the European Union approved the 2019 EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world. The 2019 country update for Mongolia is available here.

Caritas Czech Republic is implementing the project “All for YOUth, YOUth for all” funded by the European Union, along with two project partners: Mongolian Youth Center and Center of Citizenship Education. The project focuses on improving Non-Governmental Organizations capacities, increasing youth employment and entrepreneurship, promoting youth civic participation (including voter education), and promoting volunteerism among youth. The overall objective is to enhance CSOs’ capacities to contribute to governance and development process in Mongolia through capacity building, networking, advocacy and research.Caritas Czech Republic  EU Delegation

The Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Mongolia Jiří Brodský handed over four new special medical lamps for the treatment of neonatal jaundice to the 2nd maternity hospital in Ulaanbaatar, together with Minister of Health of Mongolia. The MNT 31 million project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, is part of the Czech Republic's official development assistance (ODA) and is implemented as part of a small local project in cooperation with the Mongolian company Diasys, which will train hospital staff and provide servicing. MZV

Ambassador of Germany meets Minister for Foreign Affairs: They exchanged views on COVID-19 responses of the governments of the two countries, bilateral economic and trade relations and organizing a Mongolian-German business forum in collaboration with the German Embassy and the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Montsame

New head of EBRD in Mongolia appointed: Hannes Takacs has been appointed to lead the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Mongolia. He will start his new role as head of office on 14 July. EBRD

Political and internal developments

Former Prime Minister J. Erdenebat imprisoned amidst protests: Former Mongolian Prime Minister J.Erdenebat was imprisoned on 16 June after he failed to pay the hefty MNT 10 billion bail issued by the Sukhbaatar District Court of Ulaanbaatar. His trail has been postponed until 22 June, two days before election. He is accused of abuse of power for illegally owning protected areas with special licenses in Tost, in the Tosonbulba Mountain Range in the South Gobi Province under his name when he was working as Prime Minister. News

Mongolian court slaps huge bail fee on former PM and Finance Minister: The trial of former PM S. Bayar and other six people started at the Ulaanbaatar’s Chingeltei Criminal Court on 15 June. However, the trial was postponed after lawyers and one of the defendants – former finance minister S. Bayartsogt  – did not show up in the court. The court issued a bail of MNT 5 billion to S. Bayartsogt and MNT 10 billion to S. Bayar. Former Prime Ministers S. Bayar and Ch. Saikhanbileg were arrested by the Independent Authority against Corruption (IAAC) in 2018. The IAAC is investigating possible abuse of power by certain government officials during the negotiations for the Oyu Tolgoi agreements, namely the Investment Agreement between the Government of Mongolia and Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia Inc LLC and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd and Rio Tinto International Holdings Limited, signed on October 6, 2009, and the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan, signed on 18 May 2015. Former Prime Ministers S. Bayar, who was in office in 2007-2009, and Ch. Saikhanbileg, who led the Cabinet in 2014-2016, has been put under arrest in the course of the investigation. News 

More candidates imprisoned ahead of Mongolian parliamentary election: On 18 June the court decided to detain three more candidates in next week’s parliamentary election. The trial of former PM S. Bayar and other six people started at the Ulaanbaatar’s Chingeltei, Sukhbaatar and Bayanzurkh Criminal Court on 18 June. The court has imprisoned former Finance Minister S.Bayartsogt who is standing as the parliamentary candidate for the Selenge Province, D.Ganbold from Khuvsgul and B.Byambasaikhan from Darkhan-Uul provinces until 22 June two days before polling day. However, former Prime Minister S.Bayar has been released on bail for MNT 525 million. News 

Parliamentary Elections

Seven candidates on trial during election campaign: The Judicial General Council of Mongolia held a press conference called "Open Court". The council reported that the appellate court for administrative cases received ten lawsuits regarding the parliamentary elections, resolving three of them and rejecting four. The court also received filings for 187 claims against seven defendants. Criminal trials were scheduled on 16 June for J. Erdenebat, B. Otgonbaatar, D. Ganbat, D. Tuvshinjargal, and S. Mandakhbat, after being previously rescheduled. The court dismissed travel restrictions for the defendants and set bail of 10 billion MNT, 5 billion MNT, and 2 billion MNT. AmCham

Parliamentary election campaign violations reported: The General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia and the National Police Agency reported on alleged violations of parliamentary election campaign regulations. Since the start of campaigning, police departments have received 776 calls about election campaigns, with 308 calls coming from Ulaanbaatar and 368 calls made in the provinces. A total of 108 calls were made about the dissemination of false information that discredited candidates, and 228 calls were made about unauthorized campaign methods and other violations. The police have opened 17 cases regarding violations, three of which are criminal cases. The police department has also initiated the closure of 71 websites that have violated campaign regulations until campaigning has ended. Fifty websites have been temporarily closed so far. The General Intelligence Agency has received 43 complaints related to the elections, of which 37 are being investigated as criminal cases and five being violations of campaign regulations. AmCham

10% of the voters are first-time voters: Out of a total of 2,132,352 eligible voters, 10% or 228,307 people are first-time voters who are in the age range of 18-22. 670,699 people aged 23-34 years old, 605,132 people aged 35-47 years old, 410,918 people aged 48-60 years old and 217,296 people aged 61 or above. Montsame

Voting machines tested ahead of 24 June Election: The General Election Commissions tested voting machines to be used during the election to check if they are working properly and prevent from any errors in the vote-counting process. As stated in the applicable law, the voting machines must be delivered to all polling stations by at least three days before the voting day, all voting machines and automated systems have been delivered and installed at 2070 polling stations nationwide. Complaints had been received from some political parties and coalitions running for the election about malfunction of some voting machines, causing votes to be counted incorrectly. Montsame 

Foreign Policy

AIIB Approves USD 100 million Loan to Mongolia to support its COVID-19 Rapid Response Program, which aims to mitigate the adverse health, social and economic impacts caused by the pandemic and to alleviate poverty. This is AIIB’s first project financing in the country. AIIB

A special purpose company to be created between Mongolian Government and Gazprom:  the Government of Mongolia and “Gazprom’ Public Joint Stock Company of Russia are working to establish a “Memorandum of Intent” (MOI) and a “Confidentiality Agreement” to build the gas pipelines between Russia and China going through Mongolia. The memorandum outlines creating a special purpose company, developing feasibility study, financing and cooperation of the special purpose company, dispute resolution and other matters. Montsame

Mongolian troops to take partake in Victory Day Parade in Moscow: The President of Mongolia warmly congratulated the President of Russia on the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Montsame  Montsame

Mongolia’s humanitarian assistance handed over to the United States:  Mongolia donated over the 60 thousand personal protective equipment (PPE) to the US. The first-ever direct flight between Mongolia and the United States repatriated Mongolian citizens stranded in the U.S. Montsame

World Bank Group supports Mongolia’s efforts to improve investment climate: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the National Development Agency (NDA) are launching an institutional platform to help the government resolve investor grievances efficiently and transparently, improving investor confidence in Mongolia. In partnership with the governments of Japan and Hungary, since 2014, IFC has been supporting Mongolia's investment reforms through its Investment Policy and Agriculture Promotion advisory project. IFC Montsame 

USD 20 Million Credit to Support Employment Opportunities, Workers, and Employers in the Wake of COVID-19: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a credit for the Mongolia Emergency Support and Employment Support Project. The project will provide temporary relief to eligible workers and employers and help provide the country’s jobseekers and micro-entrepreneurs with improved access to labor market opportunities. Montsame 

USD 26.4 million ADB loan to address the socioeconomic impact COVID-19 on poor and vulnerable groups in Mongolia, especially women and children. The project will finance the temporary increase in the monthly benefit levels for all child money program and food stamp program beneficiaries through September 2020. Montsame  Montsame 

ADB to support Economic Cooperation Zone for Mongolia with a USD 30 million loan to develop and operationalize Mongolia’s Zamyn-Uud free zone, which is part of a proposed economic cooperation zone between the country and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Zamyn-Uud free zone is situated near the busiest international border port between Mongolia and the PRC in a district where the local economy and population rely heavily on border traffic and trade activities. Montsame    

20.3 km road opens in Khovd aimag: the road was built with a MNT 9.1 billion financing from the state budget and ADB’s Western Regional Road Corridor Investment Program. Montsame

Economy

ADB reduces the economic growth forecast for Mongolia: forecasting that Mongolia's economy will shrink by 1.9% this year, reducing its previous forecast of 2.1% growth. It estimated a growth of 4.6% next year. ADB might continue dropping the economic growth forecast for Mongolia due to new waves of COVID-19 infection and as risks for government debt and a financial crisis increase. ADB estimated that the inflation rate would be 6.4% this year and 8.2% next year, which is slightly higher than the Bank of Mongolia's target inflation rate. AmCham

Foreign direct investment drops by 21.5% as of April: In the first four months of the year, foreign direct investment in Mongolia totalled USD 491.4 million 21.5% lower year-on-year. The source of foreign direct investment is highly dependent on the Oyu Tolgoi project, which alone accounts for 90%. However, Oyu Tolgoi's primary investor has reduced its investment plans for Oyu Tolgoi's underground mine this year by USD 200 million, due to limited labour force movement resulting from the pandemic. It has also brought its open-pit mining costs down from USD 120 million to USD 80-100 million. According to the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, foreign direct investment in the mining and quarrying sectors accounted for USD 6.7 billion (73%) of the USD 9.2 billion in foreign direct investment in Mongolia from 2016 to 2019. However, industry insiders report that foreign investment in the sector has slowed down due to the stagnation of exploration licenses being issued. AmCham

Mongolia's coal exports are gradually increasing: Over the past month, 400-700 trucks per day have been exporting coal through Gashuun Sukhait Port. Prior to the COVID-19  outbreak, 800-1,000 coal trucks passed through the port each day. Shiveekhuren Port has been processing about 450-500 trucks a day. As of May, a total of 2.3 million tons of coal has been exported through Shivee Khuren, 63% less than the same period last year. The General Customs Administration reported that in May, Mongolian coal exports totalled 2.17 million tons, 117% higher than exports in April, and 40.9% lower than in 2019. AmCham 

Mongolia halts uranium exploration in Dundgobi: Mongolia has halted uranium explorations in three districts of the Dundgobi Province after the Gurvansaikhan Company failed an inspection conducted by a working group from the Metropolitan Professional Inspection Department and nuclear and radiation experts. It was discovered that the company had not completed safety standards for preventing against nuclear and radiation leaks. The mining company has lost three uranium exploration licenses in the Ulziit, Bayanjargalan, Gurvansaikhan, and Undurshil soums of the province. News

Mongolia ranked 61st in World Competitiveness Ranking: According to the report, Mongolia has been ranked 61st out of 63 selected countries. In particular, Mongolia was listed at 59th by economic performance, 53rd by government efficiency, 57th by business efficiency and 62nd by infrastructure respectively. Montsame

Commentary

Election = Freedom + Responsibility in Jargal De Facto: Authorities used to distribute gifts to constituency residents (especially to the elderly) before an upcoming election. It has become a common phenomenon that the opposition would operate the same way-giving away bowls, buckets and even flour and rice. There was even an exhibition called ‘Politicians’ Gifts’. Voters should not forget that in addition to hand gifts, there has been an audacious act of handing out cash. In the past, traditional outlets such as public and private television, radio, and newspapers were the main sources of information for the public. Today, however, social media is evolving, and every individual has become an information source of their own. Information flow is now of multiple directions, instead of relying on traditional news agencies. Information is a vital tool for both, development and democracy. However, the powerful tool of social media has been weaponized by enemies of democracy spreading false information during elections. Jargal De Facto 

The Effects of Vote-Buying in Mongolia by Johann Fuhrmann and Max Duckstein: As we get closer to election day, the topic of vote-buying is increasingly coming up in daily conversations in Mongolia. Despite anecdotal evidence of vote-buying being widespread, statistically informed knowledge about the extent of the problem is often lacking. A study was commissioned last year by the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation to survey this interaction. One of the most surprising results of the study is that only 3.3% of the rural and only 8% of the interviewees from UB stated that they received any form of gifts during the 2016 parliamentary elections! This includes cash, food, or any other form of gifts. While cash makes up for by far the most of the received donations, other handouts include pastries, rice, and everyday items. Mongolia Focus

Active but Unrepresented Players – Women’s Political Engagement in Comparative Perspective by Camille Barras: A demographic analysis of candidates to the 2020 Ikh Khural elections has unveiled a low share of women among candidates – just over the 20% legal quota for the two main parties and about 14% only among independents – with the notable exception of the Demos Party. The percentage of female candidates therewith appears to be even smaller than for the previous election. By contrast, we also know that women vote at a considerably higher rate than men in Mongolia, and this across the country. Mongolia Focus

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Prepared by Edina Bartalová

Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

ICC Tower, 6th floor, Jamiyan Gun Street 9

1st khoroo, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar

https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/mongolia_en