Tag Archives: Development

Bank of Korea Assisting with Modernization of Mongolia’s Foreign Exchange Policy

The Bank of Mongolia, signed a cooperation agreement on June 21, 2017 with the Bank of Korea. The agreement solidifies plans by both organizations to cooperation regarding development of a comprehensive strategy for development of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia.

The Bank of Korea has been conducting a study on Mongolia’s foreign exchange market. The results of the study are expected to have an important impact on development of foreign exchange regulations and growth of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia.

Major complaints about the current state of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia include the lack of transparency in the process and inefficient operations. The study will draw on the Bank of Korea’s past experience in managing foreign exchange issues in Korea to set out a road map for Mongolia.

The plan is expected to help stabilize the exchange rate of the Mongolian Tugrug, which will facilitate a better environment for foreign investment and domestic economic growth.

Renewable Energy Program Means New Opportunity for Mongolian Economy

According to The World Bank, a new renewable energy project is to be launched in Mongolia, utilizing over $50 million in loans and grants from international organizations. The project is a part of the World Bank’s efforts to assist Mongolia’s long term path of sustainable development.

Playing off the government of Mongolia’s plans to produce 30% of the country’s energy via renewable sources by the year 2030, the new project will focus on providing financing for renewable energy investments in Mongolia.

Mongolia is a vast, open country with abundant solar energy and wind energy potential, waiting to be taken advantage of. One key aspect of the program is the construction of the first large scale solar power plant in Mongolia, designed to supply electricity throughout Mongolia’s western regions.

Another important aspect of the program will be the revamping and renewal of Mongolia’s electricity distribution grid, which currently operates inefficiently resulting gin losses of up to 25% of energy transferred on the network.

Sustainable development and efficient electricity distribution are key to promoting long term economic growth in Mongolia. The new funding will go toward providing new opportunities for businesses and families in Ulaanbaatar, as well as throughout the rural areas of Mongolia. The project will also provide funded needed to attract foreign companies with renewable energy technologies to Mongolia.

Mongolia’s Role in the New Silk Road

When China held its Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing May 14 to 15th, China’s President Xi Jinping welcomed Mongolia’s efforts to help link the European and Asian economies.

China welcomes cooperation with Mongolia in areas of trade and investment, agriculture, industrial growth, and energy development. President Xi suggested that China Belt and Road Initiative complements Mongolia’s own Prairie Road development initiative. Cooperation is also important to promote a China, Mongolia, Russia economic corridor.

President Xi advocated for a study of establishing a Free Trade Zone on the Border wth Mongolia, and increasing economic cooperation between the countries, including cooperation on major mineral industry programs and infrastructure.

Prime Minister Erdenebat of Mongolia indicated cooperation with China is a Priority for Mongolia, and said China’s Belt and Road initiative is important for promoting development in Mongolia. According to Erdenebat, Mongolia may play an important role as a link between Europe and East Asia.

Mongolia is well placed between major powers Russia and China to serve as a conduit for economic and cultural exchange. Mongolia suffers from a lack of population compared to its large southern neighbor, however, Mongolia’s rich mineral resources mean Mongolia will be able to generate foreign interest and income for years to come. With budgetary reform in Mongolia well underway, further integration with China and Russia is one more positive development for the future of the Mongolian economy.

MONSTAT Improves Mongolia’s Data and Statistics Capability

After the financial crisis in 2008 and a series of harsh winters, Mongolia took a few years to recover. As part of the recovery, the government set out a wide reaching development strategy, and setting 6 development goals. The government quickly realized that implementation of its strategy would relied heavily on up to date data and statistics. It recognized that Mongolia needed to improve and modernize its internal statistic generation and analytical capabilities in order to effectively implement its new strategic development plan. Mongolia’s old state statistics system was oriented to service the old state lead planned economy from years past. It required a major reorientation to address the needs of the emerging market economy.

The government of Mongolia approached the World Bank for assistance in implementing a new statistics system under a reorganized National Statistical Office (NSO). The World Bank worked with the government to develop the Strengthening of the National Statistics System of Mongolia (MONSTAT) project, designed to generate and distribute, meaningful, accurate and current statistics data, to promote evidence based law making in support of the government’s strategic development agenda.

The first step was to improve institutional, regulatory and policy framework for statistics collection, as well as to put in place higher standards for statistics collection and recording. Personnel knowledge and skill also required improvement, particularly as to survey techniques and data collection methodology. New technology was acquired and implemented to bring operations into the information age. The project introduced data management and quality standards of the EU.

As a result of the efforts of MONSTAT, use reliability and user satisfaction regarding statistics generated by NSO has increased. NSO has explored and implemented new ways to make statistics information available to the public and to researchers. NSO has implemented systems to improve inter-agency cooperation in data-collection and sharing.

The MONSTAT project and the improvements to the NSO are positive examples of Mongolia’s continuing development. The project has provided valuable information to a rage of government agencies, NGOs, and international organizations, working collectively to make lives better for Mongolians and to build a positive environment for foreign investment. With these improvements to the NSO, foreign investors are better able to develop business plans which rely on internal Mongolian statistics.

Mongolian Free Trade Zones

In 2016, matters related to Free Trade Zones (FTZ) came under the power of the Deputy Minister. There are three FTZ in Mongolia: Zamiin-Uud, Altanbulag and Tsagaannuur. The Law on FTZ was revised in 2015 to enabled and promoted the cooperation between private entities and public authorities in developing FTZs.

Altanbulag Free Zone in Selenge province covers 500 hectares of land. Since the establishment of Mongolian FTZs, MNT 35 billion has been allocated by State Budget and 77 per cent of the budget was invested to the infrastructures of Altanbulag Free Zone. At the moment only Altanbulag has drawn investment from private entities, which totals MNT 6.2 billion.

Zamiin-Uud Free Zone in Dornogobi province covers 900 hectares of land. In 2010, Development of Zamiin Uud infrastructure project started with soft loan of the Government of China which totals USD 58.8 million. The project performance is 95 per cent. As of this day, 23.6 hectares of land are in possession of 13 private entities for the purposes of trade, service, hotel, manufacture, storage, logistics and gas station.

Tsagaannuur Free Zone in Bayan-Ulgii province covers 708.4 hectares. 115 hectares are in possession of 5 private entities.

The Deputy Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa has stated that the Free zones are in need of accelerated foreign and domestic investment and noted that the Parliament and the Government should start establishing joint FTZ areas with bordering countries. Deputy Minister Office and Ministry of Foreign Relations are working on research and assessment and negotiating with Chinese authorities about a potential new joint FTZ.

Mongolia Tax on Gasoline and Diesel Fuel

We continue to introduce various Mongolian taxes to be aware of. The Law on Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Tax was adopted on June 2, 1995, yet only came into force on  June 6, 1995.

According to this law, the tax is levied on all types of gasoline and diesel fuel whether produced within the territory of Mongolia, or imported into Mongolia. This tax is levied on every ton of fuel calculated as follows.

Gasoline up to 90 octane will be taxed at 20,350 MNT per ton, while gasoline with octane over 90 will be taxed at 25,700 per ton. Diesel fuel will be taxed at a substantially lower rate of 2,140 MNT per ton. This suggests the government recognizes the importance of diesel fuel in economic activities such as logistics and transportation of goods.

This tax is different and in addition to the tax levied on petroleum and diesel fuel in accordance with Law on Excise Tax. The purpose of the Excise Tax is to limit harm to the society or reduce the worst effect of the products as like as international standards. The excise tax on petroleum and diesel fuel is expected to be increased on July 1, 2017 and October 1, 2017 respectively.The tax on gasoline and diesel fuel produced on the territory of Mongolia is levied by the National tax offices and the tax on imported gasoline and diesel fuel is levied by the Customs offices in accordance with the amounts above.

Several changes to Mongolian taxes have been ratified recently by the Mongolian Parliament as a means to raise additional revenue in hopes of improving the state budget. The new implemented tax on gasoline and diesel fuel is primarily intended to raise revenue.

Mongolian Public Officers May Soon be Subject to Dismissal

We have already provided an overview of the new Law on Imposing Liability on Selected and Appointed High Ranking Government Officials, we would like to follow that with a closer look a few specific provisions in the new draft.

The law will set forth the legal basis and official procedures imposing disciplinary actions, political and moral accountability on officials including the President of Mongolia, the Parliament Speaker, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, members of Parliament, the Prime Minister, Cabinet members, and officials appointed by the Parliament, or appointed by  provincial governors or Chairmen of local representative councils.

Officials in violation of legislation, oath or code of conduct or who fail to perform his/her duties will be subject to disciplinary actions depending on the nature of the violation committed. The said actions will be in form of warning the said official individually or warning among public. Furthermore, other disciplinary actions will be taken pursuant to other applicable legislations.

For the political accountability, officials in violation of the Constitution, legislation and code of conduct, will be dismissed or recalled, or his/her right to hold government high ranking position will be subject to 2 or 4 year restriction.

Furthermore, the law categorized ethics accountability as type of accountabilities in order to develop political culture in Mongolia, and aims to make officials feel greater regret for poor performance or taking advantage of their position and voluntarily assume accountability. However, if an official was subject to ethics accountability, he/she will be exempted from political accountability.

Chapter two of the law clearly states grounds for dismissal of President of Mongolia subject to overwhelming majority voting of members attended in Parliament session.

Chapter three states grounds and procedure for dismissal of the Parliament Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and dismissal subject to overwhelming majority voting of members attended in Parliament session. Moreover, Parliament members elected from constituency will be dismissed according to majority voting of total members attended in Parliament session based on request by voters.

Chapter four includes wider grounds for dismissal of Prime Minister, Cabinet members and officials appointed by the Parliament, dismissal subject to discussion and majority voting of members attended in Parliament session and regulates other relevant issues. Furthermore, the chapter states basis for dismissal of aimag or city Governor.

Chapter five states basis for dismissal of chairman of the Citizen’s Representative Khural of aimags or city and issue on dismissal will be decided according to majority voting of total representatives attended in meeting.

Chapter six regulates matters regarding public statement, informing officials about dismissal, conducting investigation, discussing about dismissal, imposing liability on officials, reporting and informing public about compensation of damage incurred to state due to breach of law by officials.

This new law which clearly outlines procedures for dismissal of public officials will be a significant improvement over the current situation in which misdeeds by public officials are not adequately addressed. We expect this new law will go a long way to reduce or eliminate any feeling by public officials that the does not apply to them due to their position of authority.

Draft Law Seeks to Define Liabilities for Mongolian Government Officials

A new draft law has been submitted to the Mongolian parliament. Named the Law on Imposing Liability on Selected and Appointed High Ranking Government Officials, the proposed law seeks to define liability for certain high ranking government officials. The draft will first be reviewed and discussed by Parliament before a vote. We are very excited at the current draft and our Mongolian lawyers consider the proposed law, if adopted, to be hugely important to Mongolian public policy and society. The need for the law stems from a feeling among many in the Mongolian public that politicians in the country often to act “Above the Law.” The effects of this official lawlessness are seen and felt by the public through displays of misbehavior and misconduct. In the past, there has not been adequate legislation to clearly identify inappropriate actions by public officials, and impose liability. The new draft is an important attempt to remedy this through new legislation.

To give readers a better idea of the problems facing Mongolia and the provisions in the law which will address these issues, the following are several weak points, or grey areas which the draft law will address.

The disciplinary sanctions set forth in the current Law on Public Service address only the executive branch government hierarchy, while not mentioning Members of Parliament, or those officers directly appointed by and responsible to the Parliament (the Legislative Branch and auxiliaries). Legal grounds for imposing liability on politicians within (the Legislative Branch and auxiliaries) have been absent or unclear at best. However, even grounds for imposing liabilities to the politicians within the government hierarchy carries uncertainty.

While each of the Law on Public Service, the Law on Anti-Corruption, and the Law on Regulation of Public and Private Interests and Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Public Service outline legal grounds to impose liability on officials, these each function as separate stand alone laws without a unified or common approach.  For example, liability under the Law on Public Service only targets administrative, executive, and public service professionals, and specified public officials. Political officers are not included.

Because of these limitations there is no clear body of law to assist in establishing or imposing liability on high ranking “selected” and “appointed” (as opposed to Elected) government officials. Currently, wrongdoing by such officials may only be determined on a case by case basis through a decision of a court, which does not allow for regular and effective enforcement.

In practice there is no regulation providing for the recall of elected officials such as Members of Parliament. The President, the Parliament Speaker, and Members of Parliament may be dismissed or recalled, only where the Constitutional Court of Mongolian issues a ruling that that they have violated the Constitution of Mongolia and must be removed. This is exceptionally difficult as there is no clear standard for establishing such violations in the legal system.

Under current legislation, political liability and means to impose it has not been addressed. Such liability will increase overall levels of responsibility for public officials who may be forced to resign, face recall, or be restricted from nominations for future public office in the event clear guidelines of liability are established. By establishing real legal consequences, the draft law is expected to help promote a culture of greater responsibility for public officials, bringing greater prestige and international respect to Mongolia’s political institutions and public officers.

Political liability is intended to increase the level of responsibility for individual officers by setting clear provisions and requires for resignations, dismissals, recalls and restrictions on rights to be nominated as candidate for specific period for the elected and appointed high ranking officials. In this way the new draft law seeks to establish a culture of self-responsibility and accountability for politicians as an integral part of public service regulation in the well-developed democracy in other countries. To this end the draft law will help to established procedures and a foundation for imposing liability on politicians within (the Legislative Branch and auxiliaries).

By doing so it is hoped that government influence and interference in public society and operations of private companies will be greatly reduced or eliminated.  Come back for our next post which will have an overview of some important provisions in the new draft law.

Mongolian Government Introduces Positive Amendments to 2017 Budget

Mongolia Minister of Finance B. Choijilsuren presented to the Speaker of Parliament M. Enkhbold a set of planned amendments to the 2017 state budget. These amendments have been designed to better ensure the government’s ability to meet its obligations under the International Monetary Fund’s extended fund facility program from which the government will receive substantial loans.

The amendments are intended to stabilize the national budget and the fiscal outlook financial environment, by reductions in budget deficits, and imposing discipline.

The primary changes in the new budget include:

  1. Increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages and imposing tariffs on imported cigarettes;
  2. Increasing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel;
  3. Increasing taxes on imported vehicles, in accordance with engine capacity;
  4. Dividing personal income taxes into three brackets and increasing personal income tax for people with higher incomes;
  5. Charging a ten percent tax on interest earned from savings accounts;
  6. Raising social insurance fees;

Of these, the biggest and the one that caught the attention of our China lawyers is the changes proposed for the personal income tax. The exact income levels which will be cut off points between the three tax tiers is not yet known, however it is likely that many expatriate employees in Mongolia may be affected by higher taxes on their income.

In addition to the above, the amended budget will impose several new measures intended to reduce the government’s overall operational sending levels and bring expenditures in line with government revenues.

  1. Increase the efficiency of tenders being carried out in the medical sector;
  2. Raise the retirement age every two years;
  3. Promote the Meat and Milk Campaign to develop Mongolian meat and dairy industry;
  4. Provide the state’s monthly welfare allowance of 20,000 MNT for children and other state assistance only to targeted groups;
  5. Repeal existing laws that put pressure on the state budget.

The government will aim to limit deficit spending to 10.6% of overall GDP, with revenue expected to be 23.1 percent of GDP, and overall spending to be 33.7% of GDP.

Of the above measures, LehmanLaw Mongolia is pleased to see efforts to promote the Mongolia meat and dairy industry included. Mongolia’s large expanse of green pasture land, clean water and fresh air should provide excellent opportunities for entrepreneurs and foreign investors seeking to establish meat and dairy production operations in the country. Exports of such products to China should find a willing market, as Chinese meat and dairy consumption is expected to continue rising trends.

The other good news is the general commitment to eliminate old laws that cause unnecessary financial strain on the government. This review process is necessary and is expected to help the government identify new areas where spending can be reduced by smart changes to the law. This is the kind of reform needed to stabilize the Mongolian economy and prepare for long term growth.

Human Rights Development in Mongolia

Mongolia Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil recently spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council where he presented the current human rights policies and measures undertaken by the Government of Mongolia.

Human rights are essential values enshrined in the Constitution of Mongolia, which was one of the original countries to implement the Millennium Development Goal Number 9 as a national plan to improve human rights and promote democratic government.

The Mongolian government’s 2016-2020 action plan places a great priority on continued legal reforms based on the preservation of human rights. Mongolia is working toward elimination of the death penalty, and amending the criminal law and other laws to protect the rights of children and the elderly, as well to protect against domestic violence; combat human trafficking; enhance the transparency, accountability, and independence of the judiciary; and fight corruption in the public sector.

Mongolia’s commitment to democracy and fairness is a major positive point for many foreign businesses and NGOs operating in Mongolia. As the first international law firm established in the country, LehmanLaw Mongolia is excited to see continued progress and development in this area among many others in Mongolian law and society.