10th of 2, 2010

“Unforeseen circumstances were responsible for the rejection of the USD188 million grant for the railway project and no one should be held culpable for it. Great nations’ policies came into the picture and for the Mongolian side, it was a force majeure, an extraordinary situation brought about by circumstance beyond its control. There was no negligence or other malfeasance involved.”

S.Bayarbaatar, Executive Director of the Mongolian Millennium Challenge Fund.

“The Government must explain how and why it could unilaterally change Parliament’s decision to accept the USD188-million grant from the Millennium Challenge Fund meant for UB Railway. The whole thing should have been brought back to Parliament after the Government had been seen to be too weak to have its way with a company operating in Mongolia.”

Ts.Bayarsaikhan, Democratic Party MP.

“I wonder how our Government was powerless to stop the UB Railway, an organization registered and working in Mongolia, to allow Mongolia’s interests to be ignored.” 

S.Byambatsogt, MP from the MPRP.

“The UB Railway is a joint venture and the Russian representatives on its board refused to allow an audit of its accounts as demanded by the Millennium Challenge authorities. The Government repeatedly pleaded with them to agree but the Russians did not relent. Thus the decision was changed against the interests of the Mongolian Government and also the MCC program.”

T.Ochirkhuu, Vice Minister for Finance.

“There was no failure on the part of the Government. Parliament had taken a doubtful decision. The MCC grant is for developing countries and was not be used for a joint venture.”

Kh.Battulga, Minister for Road, Transportation and City Development.

“According to an intergovernmental agreement, Russia will be given certain rights on exploiting the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit and that is why the Russian Federation agreed to invest USD1.5 billion on railway upgrading in Mongolia. However, the Government of Mongolia has not yet done anything to implement the terms of this agreement. In the meantime, the Chinese Shinhua Company has already built a railway line from Tavan Tolgoi towards their territory. Russia must strengthen its position and status, otherwise the Chinese will take unilateral control of all Mongolian natural resources.”

G.Bessenov, Head of the Department of
International Relations at Trans-Siberian Railway. 

“The investors finally chosen to develop the Tavan Tolgoi deposit must be given a say in the choice of the export railway route and a role in building it. Let them build their railways in two directions if they want. The Government should be careful not to accept more responsibility than is warranted by its 51% ownership.”

P.Ochirbat, former President.

“We welcome investment both from our neighbors and our third neighbors. There is the issue of commercial interests, and ensuring that any deals we make are in line with our foreign policy. We will not base our decisions purely on political considerations - but they will also not be based purely on business considerations. We will be balanced.”

D.Zorigt, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy.

“There cannot be an overnight recovery from the present economic crisis. In the many years it will take for economies and jobs to be rebuilt, the toll on the poor will be very real.”

Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist,

“A great deal of uncertainty clouds the outlook for the second half of 2010 and beyond. Though the ‘acute phase’ of the crisis has passed, chronic weaknesses remain.  Mishandling could result in a double-dip, with a return to recession in 2011.”

World Bank report.

“Our efforts to make 2010 the ‘Year to Reform the Business Environment’ must go beyond being a mere slogan, and a sustainable environment helpful to entrepreneurs must be set up. Requests and proposals must be dealt with quickly and individuals and enterprises should not feel left out of the decision making process.” 

S.Batbold, Prime Minister.

“How exactly has the MNT200-300 billion reported to have been raised by the privatization of 200 state companies so far been spent? We are yet to see the benefits, and not a single factory has come up. Now, too, we are talking about selling our shares even though the companies have not been established.”

N.Ganbyamba, MPRP Member of Parliament.

“We intend to introduce new methods in privatization, something we see as leading to the development of the larger financial market. There is little citizen participation in the financial market at present. People will be given a choice between saving with commercial banks on a predetermined rate of interest or buy shares in companies which promise higher returns. This will entail improving the operation of state-owned companies, their management as well as curbing corruption.”

S. Batbold, Prime Minister.

“It is wrong to provide support to some companies by making people pay more. The decision to raise electricity and heating prices was taken without considering other options. The problem the energy sector faces is related to the incompetence of its officials, and we oppose this move to make the people scapegoats.”

S.Ganbaatar, Head of the Mongolian Labor Union.

“Donor countries and international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have been consistently stressing the need to maintain budgetary discipline at all levels. They would see this decision to distribute MNT70,000 to every Mongolian citizen as straying from the principle of efficient capital distribution and as a political act that will have a negative impact on efforts to extend the economic platform.”

B.Batjargal, Director-General of the Budget Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance.

“We accept the need for a budget stability law but do not want it to end up immobilizing the economy. The example of other resources-rich countries to have a similar law is not relevant as their economic condition cannot be compared with ours. What we need today is unfettered development and massive expansion of infrastructure. We must not allow these goals to be stymied in the name of budget stability.”

L.Gantumur, vice head of the DP group in

“MPs spend their money on big programs, while numerous small works that must be done languish for lack of funds. Province authorities have no role in formulating the budget. The Ministry decides on whether and how a school or a kindergarten will be constructed. Someone very rightly described a province governor as a soldier without a gun. More spending rights for province authorities would make for greater people’s participation.” 

M.Oyunbat, Governor of Bulgan province.

“The reality is that one of three death penalties awarded by Mongolian courts at different levels are eventually invalidated. The Mongolian State should not make such mistakes on the issue of life and death for its citizens. A state-sanctioned execution is a punishment that degrades human dignity. A Mongolian proverb says a living dog is better than a dead lion The road democratic Mongolia has to take ought to be clean and bloodless, and I want to be a President who can tell his fellow citizens, ‘I will not deprive you of your life under any circumstances, knowingly, on behalf of the State.”

Ts. Elbegdorj, President.

“We are proud to have adopted a State Constitution that calls for setting up a humane and democratic society. But that act by itself is no guarantee that all the country’s problems would be solved. It has not been a panacea for our ills. Justice has not fully prevailed. Social and economic differences are increasing because of wrong policies on distribution of national wealth and state property privatization. People despise the political bureaucracy, corruption in public life, and bickerings based on self-interest, and I find it natural that they are trying to stand up against injustice and illegal actions.” 

D.Demberel, Speaker of Parliament.

“I congratulate President Elbegdorj on this historic step which further strengthens human rights protection in Mongolia, and sets a “leadership example in Asia. Unfortunately, the Asian region includes some of the world’s most prolific executioners, but also some countries like Mongolia that have taken a principled stand on this fundamental issue.”

Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights.

“Investigations into allegations of human rights violations have been delayed, ignored or inadequately investigated. More than a year on from the (July 2008) riot, there is no accountability on the part of authorities and no justice for the victims.”

Ms. Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific Deputy Program Director at Amnesty International.

“Mongolia’s democratic commitments are one reason why its economic development has lagged behind that of countries such as Kazakhstan. It is natural that parliamentary discussions representing public interests tend to slow down the decision-making process, sometimes creating small problems, but this cannot be helped. I believe that Mongolia will be a most attractive market for foreign investors in the long term.”

O. Ganzorig, head of the Mongolian Financial Markets Association.

“The past five years have seen us emerging as a significant developer of mineral projects in the Asia Pacific region. North American capital markets have played an essential role in financing the exploration and development of our projects in Mongolia. Now Mongolia has embarked on a new era of economic and social growth, based on investment in the development of Mongolia’s natural resources that hold the promise of unprecedented benefits for present and future generations.”

Robert Friedland,  Chief Executive of Ivanhoe Mines.

“Eight hundred years on, Mongolia is discovering the reverse of what it was like when the legendary Chingis Khaan’s hordes descended on, and plundered, most of central Asia. This time around, the hordes are descending on Mongolia, with the world’s mining community looking to take advantage of the tiny state’s mostly untapped mineral wealth - not to mention its convenient proximity to China’s voracious resources maw.”

Report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“In one of the most underreported stories of 2009, Mongolia is forging ahead with reforms aimed at making its society more open and less subject to the endemic corruption that has plagued many former communist states. It is moving more rapidly in a democratic direction than any of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.”

Report in The Christian Science Monitor

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