6th Floor, NTN Tower
Baga Toiruu, Chingeltei District 1
Ulaanbaatar 15170, Mongolia
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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Achilles Mongolia: Hope & Possibility Marathon to Raise Awareness for People with Disabilities, 13 September
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
August 15 -- Canrim Development Pte Ltd. is a resource development company established by a team with a successful Mongolian business track record, operating in the Mongolian resources sector since 1997. Designed as a vehicle to re-enter the Mongolian resource industry in early 2014, Canrim is positioning for resurgence in minerals exploration activity in the country.
In mineral exploration the sharpest growth in the value of a grassroots property occurs when the first evidence of substantial mineralization (preferably metallic) with potential economic value is discovered on or near the property. This is the focus of Canrim, developing a portfolio of highly prospective grassroots properties on which international third parties can partner with the company.
Since the fall of 2013 Mongolia has realized the need to liberalize its economy in order to re-encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) after protectionist policies in strategic sectors were implemented in 2012. This has seen a re-drafting of the investment law, which now treats foreign and domestic investors equally, amendments to the petroleum and minerals law, whereby a more than 5-year moratorium on the issuance of exploration licenses was lifted as the life of licenses was simultaneously extended from nine to twelve years.
On January 26, 2015 the Government of Mongolia officially re-opened the application process for minerals exploration licenses. And to date Canrim has successfully applied for eleven licenses, receiving certificates for seven. The seven issued licenses, all in western Mongolia, are known as Altai, Burgast, Burkhant, Khonkhor, Khundii, Maanit and Seruun. Additionally, license applications for three additional areas (Khuren morit, Sharga morit and Khar morit) in southern Mongolia are being processed.
Canrim’s strategy for license acquisition from the Government and third parties is predicated on leveraging management’s geological archive from previous exploration activities, as well as geological databases from the Minerals Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM). This approach has led Canrim to focus on regions with known mineralization, but which have received little or no attention in the past.
On the company’s 2015 field season, during May and June six Canrim geologists visited sixteen active mineral exploration licenses (seven held by subsidiaries of Canrim and nine by companies with whom Canrim has developed strong relationships) in western and northwestern Mongolia. The purpose of this field trip was to carry out first-pass reconnaissance level prospecting for evidence of potential economic mineralization. The targeted areas included those with types of rock alteration known to be favorable for metallic mineralization as well as those with particular geochemical and geophysical anomalies, while additional areas were prospected if particular rock exposures attracted the team’s attention while on site.
Upon completion of field work, 221 rock and rock chip samples were submitted to the Ulaanbaatar facilities of ALS Laboratories for multi-element analysis. Of the 221 samples, 148 were collected from six of the Canrim properties and 73 were taken from six of the non-Canrim properties.
Properties visited during 2015 field season
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Cabinet approves signing concession agreement with Aspire Mining to build Erdenet-Ovoot railway
August 11 (infomongolia.com) At the regular Cabinet meeting of the Government held on August 11, 2015, Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat and the Invest Mongolia Agency are authorized to establish the concession agreement on building railroad to connect Erdenet with Ovoot coal mine.
The Government permitted the Minister of Industry to sign the “build-operate-transfer” agreement on behalf of Mongolian Government with “Northern Railways” LLC, an Aspire Mining subsidiary.
The State Policy on Railways, ratified by State Great Khural (Parliament) decree No.32 in 2010, states immediate construction planning of Western region railway have to be implemented in compliance with the mineral deposits' future utilization and natural relief in connection with regional development strategy and population in the region. Also in accordance with the General Guidelines of Mongolia for Economic and Social Development in 2015, ratified by decree No.53 in 2014, construction of 500 km Mogoin Gol - Erdenet railroad have to be implemented using non-budget funds, or by concession agreement.
By the Program on Measures for Overcoming Economic Difficulties, construction of Erdenet - Ovoot railroad are supposed to start in the second half of this year.
The company entering into an concession agreement will provide the estimated cost of USD 1.3 billion, as reflected in the prefeasibility study, for completing the construction of the 547 km railroad within five years, according to the draft agreement. The project execution, railroad and base structure, will be transferred to the Government after 30 years.
Ovoot coking coal deposit, which is located in Tsetserleg Sum, Khuvsgul Aimag, is the second largest in Mongolia and has estimated reserves of 255 million tonnes, with growing potential. The new railroad will transport 13.5 million tons of coal from Ovoot to Murun Sum, the center of Khuvsgul Aimag, and 22.2 million tons of coal from Murun to Erdenet city per year.
Mines to Be Connected by Railroad Built on Concession Agreements – Montsame, August 11
547 km railway from Erdenet City to Khuvsgul Ovoot deposit to be built – gogo.mn, August 11
Trading halted mid-session. AKM last traded A$0.016
Aspire Mining in Trading Halt Pending Announcement on Railway Concession
August 11, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) -- Pursuant to Listing Rule 17.1, Aspire Mining Limited hereby requests that its securities be placed in an immediate trading halt.
The reason for the request is an announcement regarding the resolution by the Cabinet of the Mongolian Government to enter into a concession agreement with Northern Railways LLC, an Aspire subsidiary, in respect of the Erdenet to Ovoot railway.
The trading halt is requested until the earlier of the announcement to the market on the rail concession agreement or the opening of trading on Thursday 13 August 2015.
The Company is not aware of any reason why the trading halt should not be granted.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015
[XAM bullish on Cu; Tuguldur II plan approved; DP caucus says only MPs for 6 ministers; and Peace Avenue reopens today]
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
XAM closed flat Tuesday at A$0.095
Xanadu Mines 'Bullish' on Copper Over Long Run
August 4 (Bloomberg TV) Andrew Stewart, chief executive officer of Xanadu Mines Ltd., an Australian mining company, talks about copper prices, business strategy and projects in Mongolia. He speaks in Hong Kong with Shery Ahn on Bloomberg Television's "First Up."
Mongolia Growth Group Receives Planning Approval for Next Phase of Tuguldur Center Development
Toronto, Ontario, August 4 (FSCwire) - Mongolia Growth Group Ltd. (YAK ‐ TSXV and MNGGF - USA) ("MGG") or ("the Company") a commercial real estate investment and development company participating in the dynamic growth of the Mongolian economy announces that it has received the official Planning Approval (known as Sketchbook Approval in Mongolia) in relation to the next phase of the Tuguldur Center Project from the Ulaanbaatar Masterplanning Authority.
Receipt of this Planning Approval marks a significant milestone by ensuring the architectural viability of the project in relation to the planning and zoning landscape of Ulaanbaatar city as well as allowing the Company to move the project into its next phase known as the detailed design.
Following approval of the Concept Design, the company has begun to finalize the development-related cost and timescale data as well as undertake a more detailed financial return analysis. Initial estimates show a very robust return created by adding approximately 13,000sqm (140,000sqft) of additional retail space to the existing Tuguldur property.
"Receipt of this planning approval together with approval of our concept design is a significant milestone towards our final vision of transforming Tuguldur Center into the preeminent retail and entertainment location in Ulaanbaatar," said Bayar Zorigt, Development Director of Mongolia Growth Group.
To view the approved Concept Design, please go to the following link http://mongoliagrowthgroup.com/investors/investor-presentations/
For more information about Mongolia Growth Group, please visit the Company's website at www.MongoliaGrowthGroup.com
Entrée Gold Chairman Faces Questions on Soma Oil and Gas
CITY FOCUS: As Michael Howard faces questions on Soma Oil and Gas we investigate the former Tory leader's extensive business interests
August 3 (The Daily Mail) What do a scandal-hit insurance technology firm, a Canada-listed mining company in Mongolia and an oil explorer in Somalia being probed by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have in common?
The answer is 73-year-old Lord Howard of Lympne, the former Conservative party leader. Michael Howard, who served as an MP for 27 years, has assembled a remarkable collection of business interests.
Previously MP for Folkestone and Hythe in Kent, he stood down in the 2010 election. He has since forged a business career advising an array of companies.
In May he was appointed as senior non-executive director at controversial insurance outsourcing specialist Quindell. That adds to his portfolio of director and adviser roles, which includes Soma Oil & Gas, where he has been chairman since 2007.
He has been non-executive chairman at Canadian mineral company Entrée Gold, which mines in Mongolia, since 2013.
With a career in politics as long as his, Lord Howard can handle a good row and he was brought in at Quindell after an accounting scandal, to help it recover.
Quindell sold its legal business to Australian law firm Slater & Gordon earlier this year. Lord Howard was not on the board at the time of its troubles but was brought in as part of a boardroom shake-up aimed at restoring its reputation.
Similarly, there is no suggestion that he has done anything wrong at Soma Oil & Gas, where the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is crawling over the books.
The SFO launched a criminal investigation into the British-based firm last week, and searched its London premises. It has not given details of the probe.
Lord Howard is to speak to the SFO under so-called 'Section 2' provisions, which are used if the interview is not a suspect.
Soma said the SFO has indicated 'no suspicion whatsoever' is hovering over the peer. It added that it is confident there is no basis to the allegations against the firm.
Major oil firms pulled out of Somalia by 1991 following the outbreak of civil war. But Soma, which is backed by Russian billionaire and Eurasia Drilling founder Alexander Djaparidze, secured a deal to conduct surveys for oil in Somalia and its waters in 2013.
The United Nations last year called for a moratorium on new exploration deals, fearing they could heighten the tensions in the fragile country.
Following the news of the SFO probe, Ibrahim Hussein, head of external relations for the Ministry of Petroleum, said the Somali government will continue to work with Soma until the investigation was concluded.
Soma was founded by current executive deputy chairman Basil Shiblaq, a former investment banker turned oil tycoon. Chief executive Robert Sheppard is a senior adviser to oil giant BP.
Industry experts have rated its exploration plans but it is taking on huge risks by exploring in the volatile Horn of Africa.
A director at Soma, Mohamad Ali Ajami has also been investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department regarding the Gaddafi-era Libyan Investment Authority investment with the US hedge fund Och-Ziff.
Regardless of the investigations, the decision of Lord Howard to take on a senior job at Soma must raise questions over his judgment and why he would sign up to such a controversial company. It is not known how much Soma pay him.
He has also been recruited by Canada-listed Entrée Gold.
On its website, in a statement from 2007 – when he became a director at the firm – it states that he has 'a long-standing interest in Mongolia. He has visited the country and, most recently, joined its president in addressing a symposium held in London on investment in Mongolia'.
Lord Howard isn't the only former politician to turn his hand to business. Tony Blair became an adviser for investment bank JP Morgan after leaving office.
Former Tory Chancellor Lord Lamont of Lerwick started in the City, at investment bank NM Rothschild, and has held a number of advisory roles for dozens of firms.
Labour peer Lord Hutton joined Sirius Minerals, a potash miner that recently won permission to dig a huge tunnel under the North York Moors national park.
Wokingham MP John Redwood started in investment banking and now earns more around £200,000 a year for his business roles.
Some quit their roles. Ex-Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who at one stage served as a minister in the health department, was criticised for his role with British American Tobacco where he was deputy chairman for nine years, amid concerns over conflicts of interest.
Politicians taking City jobs is nothing new but as investors and the electorate call for more transparency, roles like Lord Howard's will be under ever more scrutiny.
AZIA closed +1.16% Tuesday to US$9.58
AZIA: A Worthwhile Investment Despite Challenges For Central Asia Ahead
· Although the economic outlook is not entirely favorable in Central Asia, the current valuation of the Global X Central Asia & Mongolia ETF presents a buy opportunity.
· While falling commodity prices have slowed economic growth in Central Asia, and will still present challenges ahead, it still has a favorable investment climate.
· The fund is trading extremely close to its 52-week low, is trading below its book value, and has a P/E of 11.34.
· Countries that are currently suffering from low commodity prices actually present excellent buy opportunities.
By Dylan Waller: ETF investing, foreign companies, gold & precious metals, contrarian
July 30 (Seeking Alpha) Global X Central Asia & Mongolia ETF (NYSEARCA:AZIA) is at a very strategic buy point, as it is trading near its 52-week low and has extremely low valuation. It invests into high-growth countries in Central Asia that have had an economic downturn due to falling commodity prices. The fund's price drop to 9.53, far from its 52-week high of 14.45, has provided very favorable valuation.
· P/E Ratio: 11.34
· P/B Ratio: 0.98
· P/S Ratio: 1.28
A combined look at the macroeconomic outlook for Central Asia and the performance of the individual fund holdings shows that while economic growth will be slower and some companies have had setbacks in financial performance, the impact on the fund's price has been sensationalized. Many companies were not drastically impacted by the decline of commodity prices, and have a favorable future outlook. This shock in the fund price has created opportunities for investors to invest in a fund trading below its book value, and that has room for growth amidst the economic challenges that Central Asia has ahead of it.
GDP Annual Growth Rate
2016 Annual GDP Growth Rate Forecast
Inflation Projection 2016
GDP growth has most recently been substantial, and is impressive to note given the fund's sharp drop in price. While the GDP growth forecast for 2016 is less favorable overall, the growth is still impressive for Asia and a favorable climate for investment. The IMF has projected a 2% decrease in growth in Central Asia, due to lower commodity prices and the economic downturn in Russia. Inflation is another issue this region will continue to face, as inflation is projected to increase from 4.82% to 5.45% in 2016.
As seen by an assessment of the fund's holdings later in this article, commodity prices have had a mixed effect on the companies while companies with operations in Russia have witnessed a threat to financial performance. While Central Asia may not be the best environment for investment, the key opportunity presented here is within the fund, rather than the region. Moreover, the majority of the fund's holdings are listed on US exchanges, providing investors with the opportunity to cherry pick the most favorable options, and to potentially avoid waiting long term for Central Asia's holistic recovery.
Raw Aluminum (59%)
Petroleum Gas (81%)
Raw Cotton (15%)
Copper and Ferroalloys (8.6%)
Refined Petroleum (6.9%)
Raw Cotton (12%)
Refined Petroleum (10%)
As many of these countries rely on revenue from exports, the declining price of commodities has resulted in slowed economic growth. The fund's performance is therefore correlated with the successful outlook for commodity exports and price recovery of commodities, with oil prices having the largest overall effect on many of these countries.
A closer look at the fund's top holdings, which comprise 65.8% of the fund's total holdings, provides a favorable outlook. Although the fund's price sharply dropped since its high of 14.45 in 2014, financial performance of the fund's holdings has not been poor enough to make this sharp drop in price justifiable.
· Although Highlands Bancorp (OTCPK:HSBK) was able to drastically increase net revenue, it still witnessed a sharp decline in net income in 2014 from $2.3 million to $0.7 million. The company has a P/E of 14.
· KCell JSC GDR's net income decreased from 63,392 KZT Million to 58,271 KZT Million in 2014.
· Nostrum Oil and Gas's net income fell from $220 million to $146 million.
· MIE Holdings' net income fell from $45.6 million to $9.4 million in 2014.
Overall, the financial performance of the fund's holdings was exceptional, and the sharp drop in the fund's price during this year is not entirely befitting. A buy opportunity has thus emerged, either directly into this fund, or into some of the individual holdings. Low commodity prices and economic adversity in Russia have been negative drivers for this fund, although they have not completely deterred the fund's performance. While the fund is overall a favorable endeavor, Dragon Oil stands out the most at first glance, due to its lower valuation and growth in 2014.
The level of growth projected for the future in Central Asia is still acceptable, and the valuation of this fund is certainly superior, when compared to other alternatives in Asia. While the threat of commodity prices poses an exceptional risk, the fund's superior valuation and the buy opportunity that has thus emerged makes it a worthwhile endeavor. Central Asia is merely one of many destinations that is currently suffering from the drop in commodity prices; I have previously mentioned Peru, Chile, and Brazil as having similar opportunities. This current economic situation has created global buy opportunities, and Central Asia is surely one destination with ample potential for a rebound.
Mogi: happy BDSec's back to doing daily updates, even if it's a day late
BDSec Daily Market Update: MSE Benchmark Index Hits 2-Month Low
Aug 3, 2015 (BDSec) MSE benchmark index fell 1.43 percent to 13,614.04 points, hitting its 2-month low as coal stocks dropped 3 to 6 percent today. Sharyn Gol (SHG), Shivee Ovoo (SHV), Tavantolgoi (TTL) and Baganuur (BAN) gave up -6.4%, -5.7%, -4.0%, and -3.1%, respectively. Darkhan Nekhii (NEH) added +6.9% to close at MNT 18,500.
Turnover for the day was MNT 13.9 million.
BDSec Daily Market Update: Top 20 -0.22% to 13,584.73, T-Bills ₮8.7 Billion, ₮14.66 Million Stocks
Aug 4, 2015 (BDSec) The MSE Top 20 index dropped 0.22 percent to settle at 13,584.73 points, as 4 stocks fell for each one that rose on Tuesday. Arig Gal (EER) lost -8.2% to MNT 2,350. Tavantolgoi (TTL) recovered +3.8% to MNT 3,430. Today MNT 10 billion (~$5m) worth of government retail bonds were traded. The 52-week bond had annual interest rate of 14.615%.
₮10 Billion 52-Week 14.615% T-Bills Sold via MSE with ₮21.8 Billion Bids
August 4 (MSE) On 4 August 2015, the bond orders of 52 weeks Government bonds with 14.615% annual interest, placed on order book, and Ministry of Finance supplied 100,000 or MNT10.0 billion out of total order 218,394 pieces or MNT21.8 billion.
Bellow member brokerage companies participated in the bond trading as follows:
Mongolia Plans to Reduce Government Stake in Baganuur JSC to 51%
August 4 (gogo.mn) Baganuur JSC registered in MSE (BAN:MSE), implemented project worth MNT 399 billion to expand its mining capacity to 10 million tons annually during 2016-2020.
In scope of the project, mountain transfer mining has planned to be transferred into moving excavator system and the 85 percent of the required finances to be funded by the banks of Poland and Germany, reported by the Baganuur JSC.
Baganuur JSC operates open-pit coal mining in its 5.424 hectares of land and its coal reserve was estimated as up to 900 million tons, of which 100 million tons of coal were mined so far. Currently, its working with the capacity of mining 3.8 million tons of coal annually.
Baganuur JSC has increased its mining capacity by 600 thousand tons since 2012. In addition Baganuur JSC earned 1.4 billion of net profit in the first quarter of 2015, whereas it had losses of MNT 6.3 billion last year, resulting in profitable operations since 2013.
Ministry of Energy announced that they are working to make changes in the prices of Baganuur JSC`s coal in the future. Government for Solution decided to reduce participation of state ownership up to 51 percent and to sell the remaining stock open. The income from the sales is decided to leave at Baganuur JSC and it is expected to solve the funding of the following project.
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, August 4 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM FX auction: US$14.8m sold at ₮1,986.10, CNY85.55m at ₮319.51, accepts $88.2m MNT, $67m USD swap offers
August 4 (BoM) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on August 4th, 2015 the BOM has received bid offers of USD 15.8 million in a rate between MNT 1980.00-1989.60 and CNY 85.55 million in a rate between MNT 319.51-320.35 from local commercial banks. The BOM has received the bid offers and sold USD 14.8 million in a rate with MNT 1986.10 and CNY 85.55 million in a rate with MNT 319.51.
On August 4th, 2015, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer equivalent to USD 88.2 million and USD Swap agreement selling bid offer equivalent to USD 67.0 million from local commercial banks and the BOM has accepted the offers.
BoM issues ₮31 billion 4-week bills at average 13.43%, total outstanding ₮31 billion
August 3 (BoM) BoM issues 4 week bills worth MNT 31.0 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.43 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
10% down payment mortgages to be issued from mid-August
July 30 (gogo.mn) We interviewed with the Head of Strategic Policy and Planning Department of the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development U.Otgonbayar on the Government decision to set mortgage loan deposit at 10 percent.
-When the decision to reduce mortgage loan deposit at 10 percent will be implemented?
-The Government guarantee for the 20 percent of the deposit enabling residents to purchase housing through mortgage loans was approved through the cabinet session held before Naadam festival. According to the approved regulation, planned works are started to be done. For instance, we will establish an agreement with the Development Bank of Mongolia, commercial banks and the Ministry of the Finance. According to our plan, regulation will be implemented from Aug 15.
-Which banks will grant the loans?
-All commercial banks that issuing mortgage loans will be participating int. Residents fear the increase in requirements of commercial banks when the regulations are started to be implemented. There would be no additional criteria for the banks.
-Is there any additional criteria for residents?
-No. According to the new regulation, 7-15 group residents under household information database, who paid social insurance for the last two years, up to 18 year old and has legal capacity will be able to get mortgage loans with 10 percent deposit. Moreover, commercial banks that grant loans will be require its own criteria.
Source: Zuunii Medee
Selenge aimag might lose up to 50% of crops this year
August 5 (GoGo Mongolia) Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat visited the entities received soft loans through the SME Development Fund in Selenge aimag.
Minister visited 12 soums in Selenge aimag, the region which supplies up to 50 percent of wheat and 30 percent of the potato crops each year. The droughts affected the area hugely this summer.
Although the officials are warning of possible crop losses of up to 50 percent, the farmers are more optimistic as it is early to make such drastic conclusions. Farmers were explaining that until crop season there is still time and they should focus more on collecting crops with minimal waste.
Over 2000 SMEs out of total newly registered 15 thousand entities are located and operating in Selenge aimag. Minister D.Erdenebat is convinced that soums are capable enough to develop agriculture development parks and emphasized on the need start the development of those as soon as possible.
DP caucus tells PM to choose replacements for 6 MPP ministers from parliament members
August 4 (UB Post) The Democratic Party (DP) faction in Parliament has called on Prime Minster Ch.Saikhanbileg to put forward proposals for MPs to replace the six outgoing Mongolian People's Party ministers of his cabinet.
Political parties in the parliament held a separate meeting after their irregular session meeting on August 3. During the meeting, the Democratic Party (DP) faction united on positions on draft laws to be discussed during irregular session meetings. They also agreed on supporting the stable operations of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and assigned the PM with duties to replace the outgoing six ministers of his cabinet with Members of Parliament and with submitting his proposals for review.
During the irregular session meetings, Parliament will discuss amendments to the laws on the criminal code, conflicts, amnesty, firearms, and the draft law supporting economic transparency. DP members say they will fully support the bill on economic transparency, Chairman of the DP group in Parliament D.Garamgaibaatar announced at a press conference.
At the press conference, DP Deputy Chairman Sh.Tuvdendorj stated, "According to the official rules of the DP, the party chairman makes the decision to assemble the National Consultative Committee. Currently, the party chairman has not made such a decision. If parliamentary members submitted a request to discharge the six ministers of the Mongolian People's Party, the issue must be discussed through a parliamentary session.
"But in this case, the Prime Minister submitted the request, therefore the issue must be reviewed by the President. The current situation might make the state unstable. Some MPs might deliver a draft law to dismiss the whole composition of the government. In order to prevent such negative outcomes, the DP faction has made the decision not to allow DP members who support the dismissal of the government run in the 2016 parliamentary elections."
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg and Head of the Governmental Office S.Bayartsogt submitted a notice to Parliament on Saturday on the dismissal of ministers of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) from the Cabinet. The Prime Minister also sent President Ts.Elbegdorj a request to discuss the dismissals. The executive council of the ruling DP called for of the expulsion of the representatives of the MPP from the Cabinet, stating that the MPP members were hindering state affairs.
DP Caucus backs Saikhanbileg, but must replace MPP ministers with MPs – news.mn, August 4
Parliament Session Agenda for August 4
August 4 (gogo.mn) STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING:
1. Justice standing committee meeting at 09.30AM at A Hall.
- Amendments to revised law on criminal code and affiliated other drafts
- Amendments to draft law on violation and affiliated other drafts
- Amendments to draft law on fire arm and affiliated other drafts
- Draft law on pardoning
2. Budget standing committee meeting at 09.30AM at B Hall.
- Draft law on Economic transparency
Cabinet Approves DBM Opening €20 Million Credit Line from IIB - Cabinet Meeting in Brief
Ulaanbaatar, August 4 (MONTSAME) Among many issues discussed during the Cabinet's regular meeting on Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented about his official visits to the USA and the Republic of Cuba, ran this July, and his participation in the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies, held in El Salvador the same month.
After this, the Cabinet assigned the FM to adopt a plan to implement follow-up actions to the above foreign visits.
- The Cabinet also approved the Intergovernmental Agreement of Mongolia and Hungary on Visa-Exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports, which was signed on May 29 in Ulaanbaatar.
- The FM L.Purevsuren was obligated to submit the results of the official visit paid by the President Ts.Elbegdorj to the European Parliament on June 8-10 to the National Security Council.
- The Cabinet allowed the Development Bank of Mongolia to open credit-line of up to EUR 20 million in the International Investment Bank for the implementation of development projects of Mongolia.
Government Allocates ₮20 Billion to Prepare for Possible Tough Winter
Ulaanbaatar, August 4 (MONTSAME) On the regular meeting held Monday, the Deputy Premier U.Khurelsukh, the Minister of Finance J.Erdenebat, the Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa and Board of Directors of the Development Bank (DB) were assigned to resolve the financing of over MNT 20 billion for overcoming the potentially difficult wintering of 2015-2016.
The Cabinet intends to dedicate 8.6 billion Togrog for forming emergency reserve of fodder through buying wheat from drought-stricken agricultural companies, two billion for disseminating the reserves to the aimags that might face harsh winter and 10.6 billion Togrog for scheduling hay-making in aimags with good summer conditions.
Moreover, the Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa and the chairman of the General Agency for Specialized Inspection Sh.Radnaased were obligated to take measures to limit the exports of animal fodder produced by domestic flour mills between next September 1 and March 30, 2016.
DBM to provide ₮100 billion loans for meat export, ₮80 billion for wheat, fodder reserve
Ulaanbaatar, August 4 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Food and Agriculture and of Finance, and the Board of Directors of the Development Bank (DB) were assigned to resolve the working capital for loan worth MNT 180 billion, of which 100 billion to be dedicated to preparing meat for exports and 80 billion to forming a reserve of wheat and fodder.
This was in frames of the implementation of the Program on Measures for Overcoming Economic Difficulties. In order to stabilize the flour supply and demand, the Cabinet also assigned the Minister of Food and Agriculture R.Burmaa to organize purchasing for State reserve the domestic productions of wheat and promoting national entities and farms.
The related authorities estimated that Mongolia is capable of exporting 58 thousand tons of meat to other countries including Russia, China and Vietnam, and to supply 30 thousand tons for domestic consumption in 2015-2016. The domestic reserve preparation can be completed within three months from next December and February.
Cabinet Approves Rules on Monitoring State Procurement
Ulaanbaatar, August 4 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet of Ministers decided to issue a Government resolution on adopting the Rule of State Monitoring over the Purchasing Activities, on Monday.
The Ministers consider that the rule will be of great contribution in upgrading the quality of purchasing of products and services by the funding of state and localities' budgets.
The document aims to enforce the implementations of state monitoring over the purchases of products and services on state and local properties and of the regulations on purchasing and other related laws, regulations and standards.
Industry Minister Reports on His Tour of Selenge
Ulaanbaatar, August 4 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat said Monday at the Cabinet's regular meeting that the summer condition this year was at critical level in Selenge aimag. He reported on his recent working visit to 12 soums of the aimag, which provides up to 50 percent of wheat and 30 percent of potatoes and vegetables of the country.
He mainly got au fait with the activities of the entities that have taken easy-term credits from the "Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund". The authorities of the entities speculate that they are likely to lose half of their harvest this year on account of the drought. However, the local land-farmers say it is too early to make such negative speculation.
The Minister said that the basic condition has been set in the soums for forming agricultural parks, and that the Government needs to commence the piloting for such parks. Out of the total 15 thousand new entities that have been registered recently, 2,000 entities are operating in Selenge aimag.
Budget Committee backs discussion of draft Law on Economic Transparency
August 4 (gogo.mn) Today, the first meeting of Budget Standing Committee session started with 52.6 percent attendance. Discussion of the draft Law on Economic Transparency was held and the Minister of Justice D.Dorligjav introduced the law draft.
The Government initiated the draft law and submitted to the State Great Khural on 12th of January, 2015. However, it was not supported during the spring session and returned to the Government. Therefore, the Government re-submitted the draft law.
This draft includes wider range of regulations compared with previous laws and includes not only social insurance, but also real estate registration and registration of legal entities and accounting matters.
Outcomes of approval and implementation of the draft law on economic transparency will reveal unregistered revenue and assets and put them into registration and will be taxed in accordance with the legislation, which expands the tax base and correct false financial statements and tax evasions without any interest or penalty.
MP Ts.Davaasuren said: "There are some issues related to this draft law. Some countries have experience in detecting income, which was concealed during economic crisis. However, the strategic deposits and companies which contracted to retain five percent of the revenue should be considered separately from this law. It is undeniable to have occasions of hidden money due to holes of economic system and form of legal framework were not refined."
He clarified whether there is an opportunity to consider following examples differently.
In response, the Minister of Justice D.Dorligjav "In accordance with the Government agreements with major entities, which provisions to not accept negative impacts of new legislation has been included. Therefore, it cannot be considered differently and they are to get discount like other entities.
As no other members asked questions on introduction of the draft law, members supported the draft law and approved to discuss at plenary session of State Great Khural.
At the end of the meeting, resolution to establish working group to monitor fully implemented projects financed through 2008-2014 with the State Budget, reported by the Media and Public Relations Department of the Parliament.
Justice Committee Backs Bills on Budget, Tax, Fire Arms, Stamp Duty
August 4 (gogo.mn) First discussion of revised draft Law on Fire Arms and affiliated drafts were discussed by Justice Standing Committee.
First discussion of below law drafts were discussed and introduced by Sh.Tuvdendorj.
- Amendments to Law on Budget
- Amendments to Law on Taxes
- Draft Law on Fire Arms
- Amendments to draft Law on Stamp-duty.
During the first discussion of the draft laws, majority of members attending the meeting have supported the draft laws.
MPs N.Batbayar and Ts.Davaasuren clarified on the solutions for herder`s fire arm and how the issue to prick barrel of hunting fire arms owned by citizens has been indicated in the law draft.
One of the project initiators MP Kh.Temuujin gave explanations on herders right to protect their property and livestock from wild animals with registered and legal fire arm being included in the draft law. As well as there will be no issue to prick barrel of hunting fire arms owned by citizens.
MP H.Temuujin to conduct voting by the formulation of opposite vote and to submit it to the plenary session. Next, draft law on pardoning is being discussed closely by the Justice Standing Committee.
After the discussion, amendments to draft on Criminal Code and draft Law on Violation and affiliated drafts will be discussed, reported by the Media and Public Relation Department of the Parliament.
Minister Tsogtbaatar: Euro Standard will bring quality to construction sector
August 4 (gogo.mn) Minister of Construction and Urban Development D.Tsogtbaatar and Head of the Standardization and Measurement Authority G.Gantumur held open session on the upcoming introduction of over 160 new standards to bring in the Euro Standard into construction sector.
Extensive research outcomes revealed the need to introduce the Euro Standards and its duplication, development of the similar Mongolian standards and ensure the opportunities to introduce new technologies and equipment into Mongolian construction sector. Therefore the initial use of 133 standards on requirements to building safety and guarantees and planning principles and 31 standards developed by the EU are to be used in English for the term of one year by the construction companies, research centers, construction material manufacturers and construction layout developers.
The term of one year is set as the initial term, during which those standards to be translated and Mongolian versions are to be developed and the term can be extended. The order was issued yesterday by the Minister of Construction and Urban Development.
D.Tsogtbaatar, Minister of Construction and Urban Development emphasized that use of Euro standards will set higher bars for quality imports, which in turn is to improve the final product supplied to market.
Moreover, the improved quality of the buildings will significantly reduce the maintenance of the buildings and improve the living environment of the residents, which in turn will have economic benefit. The main challenge is the improvement of the laboratory capacities to ensure the quality of the construction materials.
G.Gantumur, Head of Standardization and Measurement Authority emphasized that every entity engaged in operations on construction sector has the right to introduce these standards into their daily operations. The use of those standards will improve the sector structurally and set higher bars for the imported construction materials.
Energy Minister visits major coal producers
August 4 (UB Post) Last week, Minister of Energy D.Zorigt worked in Shivee-Ovoo and Baganuur, where the sector's major coal producers operate, to be updated on their activities and exchange views on issues that are challenging the energy sector.
The Minister first visited the mining site of Shivee-Ovoo, a state owned company. The mine opened in 1992 and has the capacity to produce two million tons of energy producing coal per year. In the past, the company has supplied Thermal Power Plant IV (TPP IV) and major coal consumers in the provinces along the nation's railroad.
In 2014, the company explored 2.1 million tons of coal, and planned to extract 2.1 million tons of coal this year, but Shivee-Ovoo Executive Director Ts.Otgonbaatar said that this year's plan cannot be fulfilled. He cited that last year's winter was warmer than usual and thermal power plants mitigated coal purchase quantities. Power plants also have a coal surplus now, and extracting more coal is risky, he added.
Amgalan Thermal Power Plant is expected to be officially open in the second quarter of 2015, and Shivee-Ovoo is planning to extract 250,000 tons of coal to meet its energy demands.
The company administration complained about debt and receivables. In particular, TPP IV owes 7.4 billion MNT to Shivee- Ovoo, which is over 80 percent of the company's receivables. Shivee-Ovoo says that the authorities of TPP IV don't repay accrued liabilities from the previous year, which places a financial burden on the coal supplier. Shivee-Ovoo asked the Energy Ministry to provide assistance on this issue.
The company authorities also said that even though the company's financial and economic conditions are difficult, the company paid 6 billion MNT in taxes in 2015.
Shivee-Ovoo is planning to transfer to an excavator loading system for more efficient transportation, and a total of 54 billion MNT is necessary for this upgrade. The Bank of Poland has proposed investing 85 percent of the project's total expenditure, but it's uncertain how the remaining 15 percent will be provided by Shivee-Ovoo.
In Govisumber Province, the Energy Minister visited the Baganuur mine (Mogi: Shivee-Ovoo is in Govisumber, Baganuur is now a UB satellite city) and the southeast regional power distribution grid company in Choir. Choir's sub-station was connected to the central power system in 1984 through a 220 kilowatt, single-stranded, 178 km aerial power line from the Baganuur sub-station. Recently, mining production has intensified in Gobi regions, and energy consumption has drastically increased. Chairman of the Choir sub-station Ts.Bayarbaatar said a new aerial line is now needed.
The Baganuur deposit has approved reserves of 584 million tons of coal, and is 12 km long, 4 km wide, and covers 3,250 hectares. The company explored its hundred millionth ton of coal in February 2015.
One third of the base layer is flooded, and the company removes 4.2 million cubic meters of water annually, which has been impacting the company's expenses. The mine's depth is growing by three to four meters every year, and has now reached 120 meters.
Baganuur has the capacity to produce 3.8 million tons of coal per year. The company is working on a project to expand their capacity to produce 10 million tons of coal annually. They plan to implement the project from 2016 through 2020, and a total of 399 billion MNT is required for the project.
Head of Baganuur M.Otgonbayar said that this year's winter preparation is only at 22 percent completion, and explained that this delay has been caused by many factors. He cited that thermal power plants purchased 61,800 tons less than expected for Baganuur's coal sales, and they also suggested decreasing purchase quantities in August and September. However, the plants want to purchase more coal in peak winter seasons, and an additional 900 wagons are needed to transport the coal, but the Ulaanbaatar Railway cannot accommodate the increased load, added Otgonbayar.
Baganuur authorities also complained that they are facing a deficit of 6.4 billion MNT due to coal costs, and have outstanding receivables of 18 billion MNT due from thermal power plants. A total of 18.1 billion MNT is necessary for ensuring winter preparedness, seven billion of which is immediately needed for excavator repair.
M.Otgonbayar said that even though the company is taking all necessary measures, they are powerless in some situations.
Minister Zorigt said that the state policy document for the energy sector was recently approved, and that the laws on energy and renewable energy have been amended. The minister said that these will improve the sector's legal environment and encourage market principles in the future.
He also added that energy tariffs have been changed four times since 2014, and said that the price of Baganuur coal will be changed as well. The Energy Regulatory Committee estimated that by changing the company's coal price, their income will increase by 4 billion MNT. The Minister promised to work on a plan for profitability and submit it to the Cabinet and Development Bank of Mongolia for resolution.
During his visit, the Minister also attended a Naadam organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Baganuur's sub-station, and presented a speech.
Children's daycare services coming in 2016
July 30 (UB Post) Every year, we plan a budget for building schools and kindergartens. Very few of those plans are carried out and most of them are gone with the wind. Every fall, issues about kindergartens arise, and parents are faced with a terrible decision: to bribe or not to bribe.
Some choose to bribe the authorities and teachers to save time and secure a place for their child in crowded schools. On the other hand, some parents have no money to pay bribes and end up locking their children up at home alone. Many incidents of children starting fires in their homes, hurting themselves, and even dying have been recorded, all because they were left alone at home. To avoid losing more children to these tragedies, lawmakers approved and adopted a law on childcare services.
The law will take effect on January 1, 2016. This law was opposed by some parliament members, specifically members of the Mongolian People's Party. "Children's rights are stepped on due to this law. There will be no supervision of food or the teachers. You're just trying to spend more money," they criticized. Female members of parliament supported the law and believed it would be better for children to be in someone else's care than left alone, locked up at home.
As of 2013, out of the 247,104 kids between the ages of two to five nationwide, 61,585 (one in four) did not have access to a preschool education. In the capital, out of the 74,900 kids in the same age group, 21,400 (one in three) lacked access. With the emergence of this law, 15,000 new jobs will be created and 90,000 kids will be provided with the chance to enroll in kindergartens.
People with permission to provide childcare can offer this service in homes they own or rent. But those homes and environments should be safe for children, pose no risk to their health, and should provide an environment where the children are safe. If the childcare service is offered in a private residence, the kitchen must be separate from the living room; if a toilet outside is used, it should be safe and clean; and if there is an open furnace, chimney, or stove, they should be child-proofed.
The childcare provider should be a high school graduate, should enroll in the state's childcare course and earn a completion certificate, should know how to deal with kids, be healthy with no mental or infectious illnesses, have no criminal record, and be a Mongolian citizen from 18 to 65 years of age. For every five kids there should be one childcare provider, with a maximum number of 15 children per home childcare facility.
Childcare services will be available for longer than eight hours. Private kindergartens are criticized for playing cartoons for kids and nothing else. The childcare law touches on this issue. Now, it's illegal to allow children to watch TV, play with smart devices, or be engaged in religious activities for more than 60 minutes per day.
Food and normative spending on children in childcare programs will be financed by the state. Today, a kindergarten child costs 116,000 MNT per school year. If we calculate that 52,300 kids who are not able to attend kindergarten today will now be able to enroll thanks to this law, Mongolia will need 54.5 billion MNT by the end of 2015.
The state is adopting this law in the cold winter because they want to be ready and prepared. This was one of the most controversial legislations to be approved this spring, and it requires 54 billion MNT for implementation. We didn't plan for it in the budget this year, and even if we did plan it, the government doesn't have the money to finance it. Therefore, the project will be implemented next year, when the government can make realistic budget plans.
Advisors to State: Advisors or Distorters?
By Ts. Erdenetsetseg
August 4 (gogo.mn) What is the actual work of advisors at the state, political and administrative entities.
President has around 10 advisors, Prime Minister has 5-6 advisors. Every minister has advisor. Members of Parliament have 2-3 advisors. Even Aimag Governor's have advisors.
Advisors are seen as the ones who are doing their job from the political perspective and mostly seen as the distorters and the ones who stir up the society.
Most of the advisors to the MPs are poets, journalists and lawyers. There are some with no definite profession as well. Some would say: "I am being busy with setting the school for some kids at the electoral district of a MP. It is not an easy task."
It is possible that those kids might turn into one of those current advisors as a token of expressing their gratitude for ensuring their educational path.
It is no more a secret that politicians choose close people as their advisors in order to conceal their bad deeds. Advisors usually are responsible for a number of things such as finances, administrative work, public and political deeds. Many would hear from the civil service employees, especially those working at the ministries words such as: "Advisors are such distorters, they are very dangerous."
Advisors are not only serving their patrons, but anyone else who is in unity with their interests and ambitions, showing the real need of having an advisor and having a patron at both ends. This can be proven easily with the case of A.Gansukh, close aide to Kh.Battulga, currently working as an advisor to Speaker Z.Enkhbold. Just after getting off the position of the Minister of Road and Transportation A.Gansukh becomes the advisor to Z.Enkhbold and started expressing the stances on Tavantolgoi project. This easily can be linked with the Genco Kh.Battulga's interest in getting involved with the railroad projects that have been long stalled. As for A.Gansukh, it seems as if though he serves two patrons at the same time.
Deputy Minister U.Khurelsukh appointed N.Uchral, son of Nyam-Osor, owner of the Ikh Zasakh University. One might doubt on what he would advise to the minister. This example can clearly depict on the role and skills of the advisors.
Lately even the heads of the special state entities started having advisors. This is the result of the mingling of the politics with legal entities. During the reign of B.Bilget at the General Police Authority the Vice Director, then being accused of using the pacifier seats for the convicts and dismissed of his position, but managed to stay in the entity as the advisor to B.Bilegt.
Kh.Temuujin did the same with D.Yadamdorj, former Head of the Court Decision Execution Authority, when the later was taken down from the position by then Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag. He became the advisor to the new Head. Advisor responsibilities have faded from its original meaning in the society, but gaining the popularity in the political scene of the country.
There are many skilled professionals who would do better job at the advisor position. Probably it could have helped a lot, if the minister have hired researchers specializing in the economic research at the Universities as their advisors, to overcome the current economic turndown.
It is crucial to hire specialists and skilled professionals at the implementation of the SMART STATE program, so vigorously propagated by the President, rather than having it relied on those distorters.
404 exploration licenses cleared to be issued, rejects 260, checking 809
July 30 (news.mn) The Government of Mongolia (GoM) is providing special licenses to explore natural resources. Under GoM Order 239, an area of 31.1 million hectares will be available for exploration. Since 26th January 2015, the GoM already has gathered a list of 2235 entities which have registered during the 23 online calls, of which, 1141 companies failed to apply at the required time. The remaining 1094 entities, which did come at the specified time, successfully submitted their applications. The GoM working team has taken the following steps regarding the licenses:
1. allow issuing licenses to 404 entities for exploration over a 2.4 million hectares area
2. rejected the provision of licenses to 260 entities
3. to continue checking and examining the remaining 809 companies, this being for a combination of reasons.
N.Altangerel: Bricks are being bartered for food, cars, even apartments
August 4 (UB Post) The following is an interview with the Head of Nalaikh Brick Producers Association (NBPA), N.Altangerel, about the business condition of the sector, arising problems, and other timely issues.
How many companies have joined the NBPA and for what purpose?
Currently, 12 companies have joined the NBPA. Another new company has requested to join recently. Overall, there are over 20 brick factories active in Nalaikh, which has recently become a satellite town. Unfortunately, the number of factories has declined in the last two to three years. Our association was established because there is a need for brick producers to come together and resolve common problems.
Is it true that most brick factories are owned by Chinese people?
Majority of brick factories in Nalaikh were founded by Chinese people. Actually, ceramic arts originated from China. This product was first introduced by China and they set the foundation for the first brick factory in Mongolia. It's been 15 to 16 years since then. However, factories with Mongolian owners and businesses with Mongolians as its main shareholder are part of our association. Factories with Chinese owners are able to operate independently, so they don't join our association.
What's your perspective on the current economic situation in Mongolia? Particularly, how has this year been for the construction sector and brick producers?
This year wasn't the best for the nation's economy. This didn't happen in just the past year. It's a process that's prolonged for nearly two years. The construction market wasn't favorable for the sector when we finished our operations last year. I've run a brick factory for nine years. As far as I know, this year was the worst during these years. I believe several factors caused this.
The housing demand of Mongolia has almost been met. But this applies to people who are able to buy apartments with their own income. As for the whole population, apartments are insufficient if we compare how many people live in gers and how many live in apartments. Apartments will go into circulation if the state provides support, or the construction sector is very close to collapsing the nation's economy.
Besides coal, what is the primary lever for Nalaikh's economy?
Looking closely at the economic structure of Nalaikh, most of the residents operate shops and restaurants, and another section work in government organizations such as hospitals, schools and kindergartens. The actual large businesses are the 20 brick factories and some mines. Considering the seasonal circulation, the principle lever of Nalaikh is based on mines and brick factories.
I believe that we've provided jobs to quite a large number of people if we determine that the total population in Nalaikh is 35,000 people. Places like Nalaikh should be supported through state policy. For example, the state should look for means that'll support and improve brick factories. Unfortunately, inspection agencies are doing inspections nonstop during this time when the impact of the economic difficulty is intense. They'll go to a place and threaten to shut the place down or issue overwhelming penalties. People who've come to inspect return once they've given some sort of penalty or fine. They just go away after charging the highest penalty of seven million MNT. This amount equals to [monthly] salaries of several employees.
Nalaikh brick factories spend half a billion on average on employee wages. With this miniscule amount of money, they sponsor and support local residents. In other words, owners of shops and restaurants in Nalaikh. Even if it's little, Nalaikh contributes to lessening the burden of the government and state. It hasn't been long since Nalaikh became a satellite town and began electing its mayor. I understood that a satellite town doesn't receive funds or pay taxes to the state budget but raises its own budget through an internal taxation, including taxes from businesses in the area and income taxes from companies. Considering these factors, the significance of the few brick factories becomes even greater.
Yet, I haven't been able to meet up with the mayor even to this day. As a matter of fact, that person should've called all the brick producers and met up with them immediately after pledging his oath. Even if he took some days off to celebrate Naadam Festival, shouldn't he have gone to work by now? In the end, Naadam Festival isn't that interesting right now. Instead, the mayor is motivating inspectors and intensifying inspections so that he can raise money for the budget through penalties and fines.
Are you implying that during economic difficulties, the government is liquidating brick factories rather than supporting them?
It would be too harsh to say that factories are being liquidated immediately. Still, the government is participating in the liquidation of factories. The first words of the Prime Minister of the Government for Solutions were the word "economy" three times. At that exact moment, I thought that the new Prime Minister was someone who understood the current economic situation extremely well. Therefore, we should improve the economy for starters.
The ones who create and grow the economy are producers who create materials and resources. Now, it's like the spring before summer. Not a single Mongolian will reject the food or livestock they have. During this period, people will eat dried meat, tighten their belt [because food becomes scarce] and welcome summer. Let's say that companies are livestock and the government is the herder. If the herder scolds and badmouths its livestock for being skinny, they will retaliate and attack the owner. They should be working to fatten up their animals by autumn. People will not detect or discover violations if they insist on finding violations, they will hide their errors. Some people make fun of this by saying, "examining for fleas". Inspection agencies will definitely find some sort of violation from organizations and businesses if they continue to inspect every corner. This year, on the other hand, the government should be focusing on providing salaries to people and supporting businesses that are barely coping through the economic difficulty. Inspection agencies could at least give advices or warnings for the initial instances of violation. Giving warnings before penalty is much more efficient for Nalaikh.
Construction material technology is developing more and more every day. Did this impact the price drop of bricks?
At first, there wasn't anything better than bricks that could build and fill the walls so well. There weren't many variations for construction materials at the time either. Bricks were essential material. Now, all types of wall filler materials have been invented. I can't deny that this caused some hindrance to brick producers. Especially places like Nalaikh are lacking government support and policy at the moment. This is known to every resident in the area. Even though Nalaikh is said to be one of the nine districts of the capital that's merely 35 km away, it's unclear for Nalaikh residents whether they're living in a town or the countryside. Places are labeled as part of the countryside if it's located far away. Nalaikh residents have to plan out and manage their jobs before going to the city center. Places near the city center in Ulaanbaatar receive plenty of support.
What actually caused the dire circumstance of brick factories?
Construction companies are now unable to sell apartments, meaning that they have low cash. It's become common for people to exchange apartments and cars for bricks. The construction sector has shifted into a barter trade form. Even so, construction companies can never stop their operations. Who would pay for their loans if the construction work stops?
Unfinished buildings will eventually turn into ruins. Moreover, if construction work halts, what would happen to construction material producers? The economy is ready to collapse completely as soon as this chain reaction cracks slightly. Due to desperation, our sector has started exchanging cars, apartment and even food products. The sector is unable to pay water and electricity bills or even taxes and employee wages.
Brick producers are giving away bricks for the price of its production, believing that the economy will recover and improve. This year was like playing with cement for us. Producers don't gain any profit from this. We're fulfilling our duty to Nalaikh to some extent by not ceasing factory operations. We'll still have a future if a tiny bit of support is provided through policy during this difficult year.\
Translation in Mongolia: Most Popular Types of Translation
August 3 (Double Check Translation) We are often asked what are the most popular types of documents that are translated in Mongolia. We translate a huge variety of documents both from English into Mongolian and Mongolian into English (as you will have noticed if you followed our A-Z of Translation series on LinkedIn and Facebook).
Currently, our biggest area for translation is IT Localisation with our biggest end user being Google. The largest internet and software companies are looking to expand into all languages and Mongolia, it seems, is part of the next frontier!
Another key area is accounting and finance related documents. Many of our clients are international companies with foreign senior staff, and key documents such as financial reports tend to be created in English. By Mongolian law, financial reports need to be presented in Mongolian for tax purposes, so we find ourselves particularly busy at the end of the financial year.
Similarly, many company policy and procedures are written by foreign staff in English, or taken from company headquarters outside of Mongolia. The target audience of such documents - from dress code, annual leave policy, recruitment procedures, health and safety policy, through to accounting, bookkeeping and auditing policy - are Mongolian staff, requiring accurate and quality translations of all such documents. The majority of our translations are professional (and often technical) documents, whatever professional field they happen to be in. They are often for official purposes, such as contracts, company charters, powers of attorney and board resolutions.
We have also worked on major projects, translating Project Implementation Plans and similar documents for large scale projects across Mongolia, in addition to many tender applications and expressions of interest for international companies bidding for contracts on such projects.
On an individual level, we translate a huge number of documents into English for the purpose of visa, scholarship and university applications. These are often certificates, such as birth certificates, high-school transcripts, university certificates, marriage certificates, identification cards, social insurance books, bank statements, property certificates etc. The important aspect of these translations is that they are translated, certified, signed and stamped by an officially registered translation agency (that's us!). We also work with a number of companies who organise work and travel abroad, and who send their customers to Double Check for such translations. Proudly, we have never had a single translation rejected by a school, scholarship organisation, visa center or embassy.
Peace Avenue to reopen today in full
August 5 (GoGo Mongolia) In scope of expanding the heating lines of UB city, road from Central Post office intersection to West four road junction were closed in three phases starting from June 7 and the renewal of the heating lines were finished.
Today, the opening ceremony of central road will be held in front of the State Department Store at 11AM with attendance of the city officials.
Articulated buses to start service from end of August
July 30 (gogo.mn) Articulated buses with the aim to increase the availability of the public transportation are to start serving routes along the central roads starting from the end of August.
According to the official report, 17 articulated buses purchased from Belarus on June 26 were expected to be done its experiment service from July 05-14 and it was planned its launch officially on August 15.
However, the testing of the buses haven't been done during July. Therefore, we clarified from Public Relations Officer of City Transportation Department D.Bold on this matter.
-Tests on articulated buses have not been conducted yet. What was the reason for the delay?
-Even we have planned to conduct testing on articulated buses by serving it on central roads during Naadam Fesival, it has postponed due to work of getting license plate number and garage number.
-The launch of the articulated buses were planned to be starting from August 15?
-It is impossible to declare the regular time to launch the articulated buses due to the weather conditions, which have delayed the repair works of central roads. According to the plan, repair works of central roads will be finished on Aug 16. If the repair works could not to be finished on time, we could not launch the articulated buses to service. We are just waiting for the repair works as the articulated buses are ready for serving.
-Road repair works for articulated buses have planned to be done. How is the process of the repair?
-Articulated buses to be served routes from Tavan Shar to Officer`s Palace and we completed the repair works for articulated buses at two circle roads. Moreover, we finished the adjustements of several bus stops to the size of the buses and we conducted test on the buses along central roads during night time for last periods. There were no problems for fitting.
-Will the articulated buses serve with smart cards?
-Yes, passengers are able to use smart cards.
Free buses to Khui Doloon Khudag during Danshig Naadam, August 8
August 4 (gogo.mn) On the first day of Danshig Naadam and Tsam Dance Festival 2015 the Chinggis Square will host the public chanting on August 8th at 6-8 AM and the public transportation will be available to the location.
24 buses will serve from the below locations to the Chinggis Square at 5:30 AM and 5:45 AM on August 8th:
- Narangiin Gol
- Khaniin Material
- Denjiin 1000
- Zuun Salaa
Moreover, 8 buses will serve between State Education University and Khui Doloon Khudag every 30 minutes free of charge. The last bus from Khui Doloon Khudag will leave at 10:30PM.
Source: Capital City Transportation Department
Ulaanbaatarians oppose organizing Danshig Naadam as waste of public funds
August 4 (UB Post) Community representatives led by B.Tseren and B.Uuganbayar made a statement to the press last Friday, opposing the organization of Danshig Naadam, which will be held from August 8 to 9. A total of 560 million MNT will be spent on the event, and the opposing community members have called for spending the money on what they believe to be more beneficial projects, asking UB Mayor E.Bat-Uul to cancel its Danshig Naadam.
Danshig Naadam is being organized on the occasion of the 380th anniversary of Undur Gegeen Zanabazar. The Ulaanbaatar Mayor says that Danshig Naadam will be organized to promote national culture and tradition, and believes that this Naadam will help recover the religious rituals of Mongolians.
The community representatives said that they oppose the organization of anniversaries of Ulaanbaatar's district in addition to the organization of Danshig Naadam. They called on the UB administration not to organize naadams for the Bayanzurkh and Khan-Uul districts, and not to waste hundreds of millions of MNT. A total of 300 million MNT was spent for the organization of the Bayangol District's anniversary alone.
Researcher B.Bayardalai spoke about Danshig Naadam during the press conference. He said, "Danshig Naadam has been organized since 1639 in order to show respect to Buddhahood and reincarnation. In 1970, the biggest Danshig Naadam in the nation's history was organized, but after that, Bogd Khaan decided to not organize Danshig Naadam anymore. This Naadam is a religious ritual, but its organization was cancelled because it was believed that Mongolians were celebrating the nation's loss of independence.
"But today, Mongolians are overjoyed that we will celebrate the event and attract many tourists. We did celebrate our Independence Day and national Naadam Festival one month ago. But now we are going to organize Danshig Naadam and celebrate the loss of the country's independence. Is this correct?," asked Bayardalai.
Citizen B.Uuganbayar estimated how efficiently 560 million MNT could be spent. He said that firstly, the farming sector needed the funding, because investing 560 million MNT at the appropriate time would have saved crops nationwide valued at 58 billion MNT. He added that the farming sector needs to be insured first.
Secondly, spending 560 million MNT on purchasing medicine for people suffering from the hepatitis C virus could save the lives of 235 people. Data shows that there are over 150,000 people with the hepatitis C virus in Mongolia, over 50,000 of whom need immediate treatment.
B.Uuganbayar said thirdly, one of the most crucial needs in Ulaanbaatar is maternity hospitals. A maternity hospital with 300 beds was being built in Khan-Uul District, but the construction was stalled due to financial problems. Contributing 560 million MNT to hospital investments is more useful to Ulaanbaatar residents, said Uuganbayar."There are over 400 citizens with renal failure that need hemodialysis, but they pay high fees for this treatment, and there is a long wait for treatment. Spending 560 million MNT on these people would be more effective," he continued.
Uuganbayar also said that in the Khan-Uul District two schools and kindergarten buildings need to be repaired, and added that spending 560 million MNT on maintenance for schools and kindergartens would be more effective than spending for unnecessary celebrations.
The community representatives asked the UB Mayor to rethink his decision, and spend the money on more useful things.
Everyone knows that the nation's economic conditions are not that stunning, and government officials have been talking about the economic depression since the government was changed. But we are spending more and more on celebrations and events. This year's Naadam Festival was organized with a budget of 2.7 billion MNT. Also, all 21 provinces celebrated their own naadam festivals, spending millions.
Even though we don't know exactly how much money was spent for all those naadam celebrations, the total will be shocking for sure.
Statues of UB #6: Zhukov Monument
July 30 (gogo.mn) No one could imagine that son of a farmer born on December 26th of 1896 in Kaluga, Russia would become hero in Mongolia. Moreover, he has become 4 times hero of the former Soviet Union and is considered one of the greatest commanders.
His career from the soldier to the chief commander was not an easy journey. Inevitably this was the hardest route to earn the highest rank in military. His contribution in the Khalkh River battle in 1939 was the significant one for the Mongolians.
During the Khalkh River battle led by the Feklenko, 57th squad commander, Russian soldiers were defeated number of times facing losses. At that time Stalin ordered Zhukov to lead the battle.
At the arrival Zhukov led 57th squad to the victory over the Japanese army and has become the reason that we are to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the Khalkh River Battle Win.
Zhukov Monument has been erected to commemorate his deeds and is located in the 4th khoroo of Bayanzurkh District. Interestengly enough, the monument by S.Dorjpalam has become the first ever monument dedicated to Zhukov.
Moreover, the monument is one of the survived ones after the fall of the Soviet regime. Russians have erected Zhukov monument only in 1995 at the Manejnaya Square in view of the 50th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War.
New Ambassador of Mongolia to the United Nations Presented Credentials
August 4 (MFA) On 31 July 2015, H.E.Mr. Sukhee SUKHBOLD presented to H.E Mr.Ban ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Credentials appointing him as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations.
Following the ceremony of the presentation of the Credentials, H.E Mr.Ban Ki-moon and his spouse Mrs.Ban Soon-taek had a welcoming meeting with H.E.Mr.Sukhee SUKHBOLD and his spouse Mrs.Dorjnamjaa MONGOLMAA.
During the meeting, while conveying the cordial greetings of the President Ts.ELBEGDORJ to the Secretary-General, Ambassador S.Sukhbold expressed his satisfaction to represent the Government of Mongolia to the United Nations in the historic period of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and transition from MDGs to SDGs and commitment to exert his efforts to expand and deepen the friendly relations between Mongolia and the United Nations.
Permanent Representative to UN Presents Credentials – Montsame, August 4
New Mongolian Ambassador to UN – news.mn, August 4
Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN, Ambassador S.Sukhbold presented his credentials – infomongolia.com, August 4
Mongolian Border Troops to Join UN Peace Keeping Operations in South Sudan
July 30 (news.mn) A total of 850 troops of the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) are to be sent to serve on the next UN Peace Keeping Operations tour of duty. The troops, primarily from the MAF Mechanized Infantry Battalion will be sent to South Sudan. On this occasion, they will be joined by 36 soldiers of the Mongolian Border Troops. Colonel Ts.Gansukh, head of Mongolian Border Troops HQ, colonel officially received the soldiers and wished them all the best for their mission.
What the Australian Adventurer Tim Cope Learned From Nomads
Q&A, by By KELLY DINARDO
August 4 (New York Times) While riding a recumbent bike from Siberia to Beijing, Tim Cope kept getting stuck in sand. Forced to push his bike through the tracks, he watched enviously as nomads would "materialize on horseback and gallop off with great freedom."
"These people live in a world where there are no fences," Mr. Cope, 36, said. "Everything's turned upside down in comparison to the world I live in. There's no time, no Monday through Friday. There are no boundaries. Anything was possible. I left my bike trip craving to understand this world, to break out of the confines of normal society, to experience this kind of freedom."
In June 2004, at 25, the Australian adventurer began a three-year journey on horseback across some 6,000 miles of the Eurasian steppe from Mongolia to Hungary, which he details in "On the Trail of Genghis Khan," whose paperback edition was published last month. (The television series of the same name is available on DVD.)
Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Cope.
Q. You weren't an avid horseback rider before this. How did you train?
A.I did a lot of research through a group called the Long Riders' Guild. I did a five-day packhorse journey over the Australian mountains. The rest of it I learned on the way. The first day of the journey this crowd had gathered and I was nervous, so we actually walked out of town because I was too frightened to get on the horse.
What were the benefits of traveling by horseback? The challenges?
It did give me an incredible ability to transcend the modern world, to depart from all roads. I could have a compass in my hand and go wherever I pleased. You can cross rivers and go up or down steep slopes. On the other hand, I lost my independence. I needed to look after the animal. I needed to find enough grass or water. If the horses weren't ready to go, I couldn't go. The other downside is all of the bureaucracy with borders and customs. I got stuck at borders for weeks at a time.
What can our more grounded society learn from the nomadic cultures?
These people have a sustainable way of living with their environment. They see themselves as just one species in this greater web of life. Earth was not built to serve the needs of humans. I think the nomads really give us inspiration about how we can live in harmony with our environment.
The other thing we can learn is their openness. They don't have the same suspicions that we have. They need to appeal to the better side of each other to get through harsh conditions. I came home having realized that the only way I survived was by not casting quick judgments and making friends with different people.
How did the trip transform you?
There's a wonderful saying among Kazakhs that if you have to rush in life do it slowly. I've really tried to live by that mantra since I've come back. I don't think patience is something that any of us grow up with in a large dose. It's a world of instant gratification.
Are there places you'd like to go back to as a tourist?
I take people on 18-day treks through Mongolia every year. When I came back to Australia I struggled to adapt. The only way I could relate was to share my experience. I love the Altai Mountains. Crimea, despite all the conflict, is a remarkable place historically, culturally and physically. The mountains drop down into the sea. Porpoises swim in the shallows. Horses gallop through the grass. There are huge rocks, castles, caves. It's an amazing place.
A version of this article appears in print on August 9, 2015, on page TR3 of the New York edition with the headline: What TIM COPE learned from the nomads.
Mongolian researcher uses satellite data to study groundwater resources
July 30 (UB Post) Mongol News interviewed Dr. N.Buyankhishig, vice-principal of the School of Geology and Mining at Mongolian University of Science and Technology. She used satellite information to research changes to groundwater levels. She conducted the research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) last year.
N.Buyankhishig spoke about the global use of information provided by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Mission satellites and how Mongolians can conduct research using that information for other areas of study.
Water research conducted using a satellite sounds interesting. Has this kind of study been done in Mongolia before?
While I was working at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute of CAS, I was surprised to see students researching water supply using satellite information.
At that time, water research based on satellite information was a whole new concept to me. After asking people and exchanging experiences, I decided to study the change in groundwater supplies in Mongolia.
NASA's website has lots of unprocessed information, so anyone can conduct research using it.
Can you talk about the GRACE satellites?
NASA and the German Aerospace Center launched Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) in 2002 to map variations in Earth's gravitational field.
The project consists of two satellites which fly 500 kilometers (310 miles) away from Earth 220 with kilometers (137 miles) in between each other.
GRACE's information is widely used to study Earth's hydrosphere, geology, and atmosphere. Because Mongolia has a big, wide area and aggregate geological conditions, it costs a lot to monitor groundwater.
However, we get the chance to monitor the changes in groundwater supplies by using satellite data.
Has Mongolia's underwater supply been studied before?
Alexander Ivanov, a scientist from the USSR, first studied groundwater supplies within Mongolian borders in 1958.
Most recently, N.Jadambaa and G.Tserenjav determined that the groundwater supply that could be used for pastures around economic zones was 10.79 cubic meters in 2003.
You did your research in China. Do young scientists in Mongolia have the opportunity to do similar work?
Because you process so much information, you need a powerful computer, and a lot depends on the scientist's abilities as well.
We have the personnel. If we can spark their interest, they learn very fast. I found it interesting that the Chinese graduate students have very specific research topics, such as the change in groundwater supply or drought studies and such.
Also, students have to read all work related to the GRACE satellites. You consume so much information and knowledge from scientific papers.
Lots of people talk about our deteriorating water resources. How are they in reality?
It looks like Mongolia has a big water supply. This includes ice, frozen rivers, and lakes. Eighty percent of the total water supply comes from lakes. People only use groundwater supplies for drinking water. Groundwater makes up only two percent of the total water supply.
Because Mongolia has a small population in a big territory, the water supply is enough for now. Everything depends on how we use the water supply we have. The main water consumers are factories and mining companies.
In a conference with South Korean scientists I heard your speech about groundwater management. What did they advise?
They suggested we do a better job on groundwater monitoring, or supervision. Initially, we have to find the chemical components and their levels through water samples.
Our public says our water supply and quality has deteriorated, without any factual basis. When we do a quality study we take water samples, analyze them, and then draw conclusions.
First, we have to study the water's components, its quality and origins. This kind of study costs a lot, though.
We don't know how to reuse water yet. Is this one of the factors that has decreased water supplies?
We have this "why save greywater" mentality. Mongolians don't understand that we have to use the natural supply very sparingly and carefully. We have improved over the years though. I think we finally understand that water supplies can be depleted (laughs).
Foreign students come and are shocked to see we're using drinking water to flush toilets. We use five liters of water with each flush.
What should we do to make people understand the value of water? Some say we should raise the price.
Things often lose their value when they're cheap. But we can't raise the prices. Some foreign countries have varying water prices. They raise the water prices for high-income households and then supply the poor with cheaper water.
Mongolia needs this flexible policy, and I think we need to educate the public from a young age – like from kindergarten and elementary school, about the value of water.
The Tuul River is being polluted by the water treatment facility. What are your views on this?
It is true that the Tuul River is being polluted because of the water treatment facility. I don't know much, as I haven't conducted quality research in that field. But one facility cannot handle a metropolitan city.
There are many polluters apart from the water treatment facility. Groundwater gets replenished from runoff from elevated ground, but we have lots of ger households in those areas.
We need to place ger households and tanneries in places where they cannot affect the groundwater.
Because the Tuul River is so polluted, some households are using water from branching streams. Is there a difference between branch water and river water?
Branch water is when groundwater comes to the surface. Rivers and groundwater are related. We can identify water's purity by looking at the elevation of the land, the soil, and rock specifics of the area.
But no one in Mongolia has studied the impact of water with subtleties. Sometimes, when we analyze water samples that some people call "good", we get bad results.
You need to have you drinking water analyzed very well.
How clean is the water from Abyssinian wells?
We seem to think our water is pure when a3 well is located next to the toilet. There's no way that water will be different if we only dig two separate holes. We use the toilet and then drink water from the well.
They have the same environment, and if there's an infiltration zone somewhere in between, however deep your toilet is, dirty water will come into the well. And it's not only your toilet's water that's getting in the well.
Depending on the location and hydro geological conditions, there are ways that water can escape from the toilet into the well. If your house is on a foothill, you're probably drinking the contaminants from all the households above you.
People in apartments always use filtered water. Is that safe?
Humans are a product of nature. We can't use filtered water all the time. If you use the right amount, anything can be healthy, but if there's a shortage, it could result in disease. Because we all have different bodies, it fits for some, but it's not good for others.
In the summer, we have to travel to the countryside and drink water from nature. I think the reason diseases start young is due to water and the environment.
Russian archaeologists find ancient burial site in Mongolia
Bishkek, August 4 (AKIpress) - Scholars from the Altai State University (Russia) have found an ancient burial site while conducting excavations in the mountain valley of the Mongolian rural municipality of Bayan-Ölgii. Archaeologists said that the discovery is unique for the region, according to the Montsame National News Agency.
Works in Mongolia are held along with researchers from China and Mongolia. Scholars study the Early Bronze Age objects found during the Altai's expedition last year, including the burial site which is preliminarily aged the 3rd millennium BC. For over two months, the archaeologists have been cleaning the stone construction area of 1,200 square meters.
The barrow has a difficult structure with fences and large plates. Temple of the burial site corresponds to the ancient canons as it is located in the east. There are a ritual altar and other buildings. One can see the images of warriors with spears, hunting scenes, animals on the plates.
The archaeologists claim that no similar sites have been ever found in the mountains of Mongolian Altai.
Genghis and the Great Mongol Khans: The Exhibition
EDINBURGH , United Kingdom, August 2 (ArtfixDaily.com) One of the most comprehensive explorations of the life of Genghis Khan and his successors ever presented internationally to be brought to life in new major touring exhibition.
The Mongol Empire: A Complete Story
Voices of the Past
1000 Years of Treasures
GENGHIS: Rise of the Mongol Khans will start touring in Europe in 2017 with a major presentation at the National Military Museum of the Netherlands, a brand new Dutch national museum which recently opened in Soesterberg. For this first showing, the exhibition will dive into the military conquests of the Great Khans, with a particular focus on the warfare of the times.
"We are looking forward to welcoming the premiere of the exhibition at the National Military Museum. This exhibition will be the first military exhibition of this scale, and the first major presentation telling the story of Genghis Khan and his heirs in the Netherlands." says Hedwig Saam, Director of the National Military Museum of the Netherlands.
After its presentation in the Netherlands GENGHIS: Rise of the Mongol Khans is proposed for hire to museums worldwide from summer 2017.
About NOMAD EXHIBITIONS
Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure, Series 1 Ep 2
(ABC) Joanna meets some Mongolian nomads, visits a giant statue of Genghis Khan and a gold mine. Then on to the capital Ulan Bator before catching the train to Russia where she experiences some trouble at the border.
Letter from the man behind spectacular video about Mongolia
July 30 (gogo.mn) We have contacted the man behind the amazing video about Mongolia, which is being praised on the social media.
Kaz Kang has posted a spectacular video on Vimeo about Mongolia. His name is Peter Kang and he works as Chief Creative Officer for Rosetta a global digital advertising agency. He shot this amazing video during his stay in Mongolia, a homeland of his spouse.
"Thank you for your kind words. I just returned from Mongolia a week ago, my wife is still there visiting with family before she returns to LA. Since I work in a creative field it was easy for me to get involved in photography and videography, I shoot photos and videos as a creative passion and am inspired by all the beauty around us. I can not put into words how beautiful I found Mongolia and its people to be, it is truly an ancient land that is one of the most special places on Earth. I wanted to share what I experienced with others and that's why I made the video. In the past few years I have gotten more involved with using drones for aerial video and the technology has come so far that a single person can create such visions very easily. Thanks for your interest I hope this was helpful."
Mongolia from the sky, shot during a trip across the country to Khuvsgul Lake. Traveling through cities like Erdenet, Khutag Undur, and Murun, the rich and vast landscapes were best captured from the air. More than 2 million years old Khuvsgull Nuur is one of seventeen ancient lakes in the world and it is the second largest fresh water resource. The generosity and kindness of the Mongolian people will not soon be forgotten, I cannot wait to visit again.
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Dinosaur theme park being built in Dalanzadgad
July 30 (gogo.mn) New recreation park is being established in Dalanzadgad soum of Umnugobi aimag.
The park envisions the tennis courts, basketball courts, bicycle tracks, music fountains, playground, lake, green areas and over 20 moving and audio statues of dinosaurs.
The total budget of the development is MNT 8.2 billion, which is being financed from the local government.
Dinosaur statues are to depict the types of dinosaur findings inhabited the land prior as the Dalanzadgad soum is the center of such archaeological findings.
The Ulaanbaatar Film Project: The Nomad Meets the City
To this day, Mongolia is still a land of nomads, where citizens move with the seasons and live off pastures and livestock. However, at incredible rates, Mongolian society is shedding its millennia-old nomadic culture for a dense, urban, sedentary lifestyle.
The nomad now lives on a grid.
Rapid migration rates have resulted in sprawling, semi-permanent, semi-formal settlements encircling the capital city in the areas known as "ger districts", named after the round, traditional felt tent -- the ger -- that migrants bring with them as housing.
Migrants to the city embody a cultural evolution at the intersection of urbanization, globalization, and traditional nomadic society.
Here outside the city, instead of overlooking endless steppe and sky, these gers are enclosed by 7-foot-tall rectangular fences, shut in on three sides by neighbors, and accessible only by a labyrinth of potholed dirt roads.
This urban transitional zone – bridging the ger and the city, the nomad and the grid, tradition-modernity, past-future – illustrates through its juxtapositions a spectacular societal and geospatial change taking place.
Through the lenses of individuals, the film will illuminate what this trajectory means for the city, Mongolian culture, and our shared human fate.
Mongolia's story is at once unique and universal.
The forces of urbanization and globalization are not specific to Mongolia, of course. The majority of the world's population now lives in urban areas and 90 percent of new global population growth is projected to take place in cities.
However, Mongolia's story is special. The still-visible and resilient nomadic way of life cuts a stark contrast with the modern city. In many ways, the transition from one to the other could not be more drastic.
World artists illustrate Alice in Wonderland charity edition for Mongolian children
Proceeds from sales of Beijing publishing start-up Pickatale's crowdfunded 150th anniversary edition of Lewis Carroll's children's classic will fund children's art lessons in rural Mongolia
August 4 (South China Morning Post) This year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and fans and organisations around the world are marking the occasion with exhibitions, readings, musicals and lectures on Lewis Carroll's tale. Among the more creative efforts is a collaborative book project by Beijing-based start-up Pickatale.
The multimedia publisher, which specialises in interactive tales for children, recruited 150 artists from 42 countries and asked each to create an illustration to accompany different passages for a commemorative edition of the fantasy classic. Aside from celebrating the anniversary, the project, 150Alice, also aims to help fund children's art education in Mongolia.
That's why Pickatale has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise US$50,000 by August 10 to cover the production costs of the book - a hefty tome weighing 2.7kg. Proceeds from sales of the book and related items will go towards running art classes in the small city of Zuunkharaa in Mongolia. The company hopes to produce 1,000 copies to begin with and to print more if there is demand.
Pickatale founder and serial entrepreneur Sigbjorn Dugal, who has frequently travelled to Mongolia since he moved to Beijing 13 years ago, came up with the idea for the charity book project.
"I first visited [Mongolia] in 2002, and it was very clear just how underdeveloped the country was, especially in rural areas. The country is filled with resources and beautiful nature, which was a sharp contrast to the poverty of certain communities," Dugal says.
Children living in the countryside usually lack educational opportunities, Dugal adds, and he figured Pickatale's experience could be put to good use.
"We had developed a vast pool of skills and resources when we started Pickatale [in 2013], especially in the scope of art and design. I had always wanted to do something for children in Mongolia," says Dugal, who also manages a London-based private equity fund.
Pickatale had previously undertaken another charitable book project using a similar arrangement, with 50 artists drawing their interpretations of elephants.
The result did not resonate as much with the potential clientele as Pickatale had hoped, but the team continued to believe in the collaborative format - they just needed a better idea.
"We had to think of something that would match with us and children in Mongolia, so we decided to focus on storytelling," says Pickatale chief operating officer Mark van der Maas.
When he and the team learned of Alice's upcoming anniversary in 2013, they began mapping out the project.
"The story is in the public domain and it's a well-known one, with so many movies, TV shows, games and books, so everyone is familiar with it," says van der Maas. "We wanted to do a cool version of the story."
After dividing the tale into 150 sections, the company began scouting for artists to contribute illustrations to each passage. Leading the research was Thomas Winther-Rasmussen, who as the start-up's chief creative officer regularly liaises with writers and illustrators.
While Pickatale had about 100 artists on its books, dozens more had to be found. The team scoured the web and asked their contacts to spread the word. "Most of the artists are young, not so established, and we gave them the opportunity to present their interpretation of the text. We wanted Alice to look different on every page," Winther-Rasmussen says.
But a few are well known in their own countries, such as Brazilian artist Shiko, who was delighted to be invited to contribute, as was his countryman João Faissal, especially since Alice is one of the latter's favourite books.
"I love how the surrealistic imagination of a creative writer from 1865 is still provoking our minds and creativity. The story itself is so immersive and fantastic that we still have people getting amazed by it," Faissal says.
"It was a crazy challenge [to illustrate my section]. First of all, my work is very versatile and I like to work with a lot of techniques, so I needed to decide how I would translate that page into an image. I love to do collages, so I started to look for surrealistic and intense painters to use pieces of their work. In my work there are pieces from Salvador Dali, Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh and Gustav Klimt."
Of the 150 contributors, two come from China: Guan Wei, who is based in Beijing, and Shi Xingwen, who lives in the US.
Shi, too, was very excited to participate as Carroll's tale was her favourite story as a child.
"I remember when I was a seven-year-old, every night before bedtime, my father would tell me part of the tale. The story was so amazing I could not wait for the next day. Alice's story affected me as a young child and still does. It expanded my imagination to make me a better artist," Shi says.
Some artists were assigned to illustrate a specific page because the Pickatale team felt their style best suited the text, but at the same time, they felt it was important that there was no visual consistency. But with about 200 images submitted, the team had difficulty selecting the best ones for the book.
"We went through a few rounds of evaluation where we asked other people's opinions, those who had art knowledge and those who didn't have much, to see what images people liked," says Winther-Rasmussen.
All illustrators were given an honorarium and those whose work made the cut will receive a copy of the book.
Pickatale's Indiegogo fundraising campaign offers funders a range of options, from purchasing a PDF edition (US$25) to packages including an audio book, or a leather-bound, numbered and signed limited edition copy. It has raised more than US$25,800 in the past month, with just over a week to go before the deadline.
Chances of achieving the target of US$50,000 by August 10 look slim, but Pickatale will have the books printed even if it only manages to raise US$30,000. "We think of this project as more of a social enterprise than a charity. We want it to be financially sustainable," van der Maas says. "We're hoping this project will generate awareness and then find a process where we can always print and distribute the book. It's a very beautiful book with a good story, too."
With an estimated one NGO for every 500 people, Mongolia is not short of aid groups. That is why Dugal and his team are focused on developing art education for children.
"To have your basic needs provided for is surviving, but not necessarily living. There are already plenty of organisations that provide basic needs, facilities and education for children. However, it's all still a bleak view," he says.
"It is extremely important for children to have fun, feel loved, play and dream. These are all achievable by allowing them to explore their creativity and see the results of their efforts. That's why we decided art education was important. Even the smallest of efforts can have such an impact on the lives of these children."
Pickatale's goal is to eventually open an art school, but but for now it is funding art classes, which were virtually non-existent in the region. To that end, the publishing house is collaborating with the Independent Research Institute of Mongolia to develop a programme to equip youngsters with knowledge of drawing, graphic design and even traditional woodworking.
"We don't just want to give them the usual academic knowledge, but to make them smile and enjoy what they are doing," says van der Maas. "At the same time, we want them to understand the business side of things, how to market their work, not just creative skills but practical ones to use in life."
For details, go to indiegogo.com
Up close and personal: Davaa Magvansuren in Special Olympics
July 29 (ESPN) --
Mongolian Prime Minister meets 2015 SU Medallists
ULAANBAATAR, July 27 (FISU) –The Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr. Saikhanbileg Chimed met with the Mongolian athletes who won a medal at the recently held 28th Summer Universiade in Gwangju, Korea to congratulate them for their efforts and their successful participation.
The government of Mongolia had decreed in 1998, to provide financial support to athletes who are successful winning medals."I would like to congratulate and wish the athletes and coaches success again for their struggles in glorifying their nation at the Summer Universiade in Gwangju", the Mongolian Prime Minister said during this celebration.
The honoured student-athletes were Sumya Dorjsuren, gold medallist in women's judo 57 kg; Davaakhuu Enkhtaivan, gold medallist in individual men's shooting 10 m air pistol, silver in team 10 m air pistol and team men's 50 m pistol bronze medallist; Urantsetseg Munkhbat, bronze medallist in women's judo 48 kg and Tuguldur Oyun and Badamgarav Enkhtaivan, silver and bronze medallists in the men's team events in shooting.
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