Participants at Thursday's conference on methods to export mining products were agreed about the need to follow international practices. They also felt it would be better to negotiate prices than to stick to one initially quoted. Such intransigence may have negative effects.
Mining companies have to pay a five percent tax on the export value. Many complained that the tax authority often calculated the value arbitrarily, not taking into account several costs exempted in international practice, causing loss to exporting companies. They also criticized the Government for not amending the 88th protocol. At present, only the Central Customs Laboratory is authorized to analyze the ore to be exported, but the miners felt this can be done in the special laboratories in the Erdenet and Tsairtmeneral factories.
Khan Bank has been named "The Best Bank in Mongolia" for the seventh year by Global Finance magazine, headquartered in New York. The magazine announced its choice of the "Best Emerging Market Banks in Asia" in 2009 on March 16, based on its exclusive survey of 20 countries in the region. The magazine noted that, with 100% online 490 branch units throughout the country, Khan Bank has been providing comprehensive financial services to over 80% of all families in Mongolia. In 2009 the bank increased its equity 1.6 times to reach MNT128.3 billion and granted its 5 millionth loan, in addition to launching a variety of innovative products in the market. Global Finance editors evaluate input from industry analysts, corporate executives and banking consultants on growth in assets, profitability, strategic relationships, customer service, competitive pricing and innovative products before choosing the winners.
Returning to Mongolia after a week’s visit to Japan on invitation from the Government, Mr. D. Dorligjav, Head of the President’s Office, told media that he had discussed with the appropriate authorities there the possibility of setting up a small nuclear power plant to meet the country’s ever increasing energy demands. A joint program is studying how best use can be made of Mongolia’s natural resources and Japanese technology in this regard. Some preliminary and exploratory talks were also held on Japanese assistance for Mongolia to launch its own communication and weather satellite.
What do you say about the civil movements' demand for dissolution of Parliament and resignation of the Government?
These days, people are more interested in money. That's how I see the protest. Our protest of 1990 was different. People had other goals then. I am not blaming those who are protesting. Who can criticize them when they call for development of Mongolia? The Government and Parliament have a duty to do this. But every time we do something we are called names such as "76 stupid people" or the "76 corrupt people". Why must they make the Mongolian polity look bad? Who needs this? You can change the 76 present MPs and bring in a new group of 76. They will be again blamed for everything after three months. What does this ultimately achieve? I am a Mongolian citizen, proud and happy to be living in Mongolia with my children. Why should I not be interested in national development?
Whose hand do you see behind the criticism? N.Enkhbayar's? M.Enkhsaikhan's?
To tell you the truth, M.Enkhsaikhan is behind all this. Why is he complaining? He was the party leader, PM and vice PM. Why didn't he do the things he is talking about now then? N.Enkhbayar and M.Enkhsaikhan are the masterminds. It is possible for people to differ. But the differences between a few people are now destroying the country. It is wrong. Whose money are they using? I don't support this.
The protest march of civil movements on Monday concluded with its leaders, L.Tsog, G.Uyanga, D.Battsogt, B.Lhagvajav and L.Ninj, going to Government House to submit their charter of demands to the Parliament Speaker. However, D.Demberel refused to receive it in person and the Secretary of the Parliament Office, S.Magnaisuren, came to collect it. The protesters would not submit it to him, though, and finally the head of Parliament Office, Ts.Sharavdorj, received it.
The protesters demand a response within 72 hours from 2.10 pm yesterday, when the charter was delivered. They sought and received permission from the Mayor to put up gers in Sukhbaatar Square until the response is received. Some 400 people are taking part in the sit-in, including representatives from six districts of UB and 21 provinces.
More than 3,000 teachers of kindergartens, secondary schools and universities demonstrated yesterday atSukhbaatar Square, demanding a doubling of their salary. If Parliament does not accede to the demand by April 9, the teachers announced they would go on strike.
The protesting teachers raised slogans like “Reduce Taxes”, “Recognize the worth of teachers”, “Officials who are getting rich on budget money should be ashamed of themselves” and “Raise the salary!”
The Mongolian Labor Union has found that 70 percent of families depend on salaries or pension. The average household income is MNT363,594, while the average expenses are MNT367,466. Workers in the education sector say they meet the deficit by borrowing money. Heating and electricity costs have risen and prices are constantly rising. The Government’s decision to reduce its expenditure per student will mean MNT 1 billion less in the salary fund in Ulaanbaatar alone. School closures because of infectious diseases have also left teachers partly paid.
Sh.Enkhtuya, teacher of School No.15 of Khan-Uul province, said her family of four live on MNT60,000 a month as the rest of her income goes to bank loan repayment. She has worked for 16 months for the state and is paid MNT260,000, plus 10 percent incentive for leading a class. Even though the basic salary was raised by 20 percent in 2008, other additional payments were stopped. The State no longer pays for health insurance.
Executive Director of Oyutolgoi LLC Keith Marshall has signed an agreement with the Government and UB Mayor G.Munkhbayar to increase jobs. The company will hire 3,000 people from the six districts in Ulaanbaatar and spend MNT 12 billion each year on salaries and other expenses. Individual salaries will depend on the job description. The capital city has about 120,000 unemployed people, of whom 7,000 are registered at the employment exchange.
Even after the Government's validation of the Oyutolgoi contract yesterday there are still a few question marks on whether work on it will be allowed to begin on April 6. MPs Z.Enkhbold, D.Gankhuyag, B.Bat-Erdene, Ts.Davaasuren, Z.Altai, N.Batbayar, G.Bayarsaikhan, E.Munkh-Ochir, D.Odkhuu, Sh.Saikhansambuu and D.Enkhbat are still opposed to it strictly. The Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy set up a working group to study the initial objections of the Professional Mineral Council to the feasibility study, and the investors' reply to these.
A planned joint meeting of the Standing Committees on Legislation, on the Economy, and on Security and Foreign Policy to discuss the report of the working group could not be held as only MP E.Munkh-Ochir was present from the group. The working group also cannot proceed with its work as it has not received a Mongolian translation of the reply from Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia Inc.
Well now, this is a sort of farewell. Not a permanent parting but long absence at least. An au revoir more than an adieu but a valediction all the same. This morning there were 13 days, several hours, a few minutes and couple of seconds until my boots kiss the Mongolia Steppe and most of my connections with the outside world, for brief periods of time will fall mute. I will walk and give it more than I have ever given any mission in my life, until the end of June.
Some people can work with ease in whatever environment they find themselves. In an office, on a bus, in their home, a steamy-windowed café or on a tropical beach. Some don't mind noise, distraction or a broken up day. I, unhappily, am not made of this material. I need peace, absolute peace, an empty landscape and zero comforts. I enter a kind of walking arena, an eremitical seclusion in which there is just me, my trailer named Molly Brown, and robust boots, which I hope were made for walking, all in a country so vast you could fit one third Europe within its borders and still have room for a table and four chairs. I would have added whisky as a constant and necessary companion, but that's not going to help my walking direction. Wandering around like a hairy faced and rather smelly lunatic in the middle of the Steppe, Gobi or Altai - (if I made it that far on 40% proof) - while hauling 250kg of supplies and 3 pairs of thin and cheap looking skiddies may raise a few red flags.
I have a single appointment and that's to complete this walk and every obstacle and challenge that presents itself in to my daily routine over the coming hours, days and weeks. I would like to say that I shall be as wiped from the map of human existence but my SPOT Satellite Messenger will see to is that my location is marked. This is how it must be.
All this is a way of saying; of course, that my twitter, facebook and LinkedIn stream will be bulging with rich blogs, brief sentences, thoughts and images from my walk. I am not so sunk in false modesty as to be unaware that there are loyal followers who will emit long, loud wails of "Yaaaaaaaah!" and who will feel elated and overwhelmed. They will understand that this is a) imperative and b) temporary. I shall return.
And what of this expedition? Six years ago I thought of picking up my old adventurous spirit and walking across some dusty plain wearing a tagelmust. It's been a while since I last left the comforts of home to immerse myself in a number of mental and physical hardships. It is all essentially a memoir of childhood and. The Mongolia 2010 Expedition book I have begun to write will follow on from this. Whether it will be chronological or thematic, first person or third I have no idea. That is the adventure, if I can call it such, that lies before me. The loneliness of a solo expedition, or of my kind of walking at least, is absolute. Whether my reclusive isolation will be painful or glorious remains to be seen.
I look forward to the day when I will be able to be back amongst you all and share my epic story in words and pictures and film. The next blog will be from Mongolia. A land with a rich culture, deep history and diverse environment that will feel my footsteps and Molly's tire's sink her tread in to her surface for some time.
Finance Minister S.Bayartsogt has said that on March 25 the Professional Mineral Council added a further 5.7 million tons to the initial 25.3 million tons of copper reserve at Oyu Tolgoi that was registered on July 1, 2009. This takes the total reserve in the deposit to 31.3 million tons. The Council has now asked OyuTolgoi LC to make a fresh economic feasibility study of extracting 14 million tons of copper, identified as profitably extractable only under certain conditions, when global copper price rises and/or the company’s operational expenses decrease. This means the company will have to constantly revise the feasibility study.
The feasibility study approved by the Mineral Council after receiving clarification from the investors will be discussed by the Government. If everything is settled in time and implementation of the agreement begins on April 6, another USD50 million advance tax payment will be due within six months.