Election Day

By Julian Dierkes

The spectre of the July 1 2008 riots still loom over Mongolian elections. While full explanations never really emerged, it seems that those riots were a combination of some orchestration of protests, the latent potential for protests in frustrations about the election, as well as a lack of preparation by the police.

If those were the factors that led to violence, then – fortunately – two of these factors don’t hold for the coming election on June 29 or its immediate aftermath:

  1. Since the 2008 riots, the police has been preparing systematically for incidents of unrest. Presumably that preparation means that any unrest would be handled more professionally, i.e. with a focus on de-escalation and appropriate responses.
  2. If there was some orchestration of protests in 2008, neither of the two main parties is likely to plan anything similar this year, in part because there is a widespread sense that 2008 was a very regrettable blip that was bad for Mongolia, and so should not be repeated.

Voter Frustration

Yet, I do see some reasons to be nervous about the immediate aftermath of the election because I see a number of factors that are likely to leave some voters frustrated. This frustration coupled with the general social ferment brought about by unemployment, lack of opportunity, and lack of prospects in some parts of Ulaanbaatar especially, is a potentially explosive mix.

Frustration about the Result: Parties

Given the dismal performance of the Mongolian economy over the past four years and the infighting and some chaos that has characterized the DP government, a thorough defeat of the DP would not be surprising. Yet, changes to the electoral law that set up hurdles for smaller parties, may mean that the Great Khural will be roughly divided between the MPP and the DP with only a few independents making it into parliament as non-big party MPs. Whether or not the MPP ends up winning or coming close to a majority of 39 seats, it now looks likely that the DP will return with relatively strong representation.

Frustration about the Results: Options

Why might the DP return a strong showing? Well, in part because of manipulations of the election system. But the other element that I have been hearing a lot about is voters’ frustration with the lack of alternatives. That is in part frustration with the self-destruction of the XUN Party and the apparent dissolution (as a parliamentary force) of the CWGP. For a brief moment last year, XUN inspired some who were looking for more professional politicians, with more real world and foreign experience, and a dedication to anti-corruption efforts, me included.

The other part of this frustration is that a significant portion of the electorate, especially in Ulaanbaatar, is likely committed to vote against the MPP and the MPRP, but also disappointed by the DP’s government. That doesn’t leave such a voter a lot of options.

A further contributing factor to the sense of a lack of options is that there are very few new faces coming up in either of the big parties. Only 21 of the 76 constituencies don’t have an incumbent in the race. This is certainly the case for the DP which continues to be dominated by some of its founders and “democratic revolution heroes” who are all ageing and remain stuck in their factional ruts. There is no obvious force for rejuvenation that has any parts of the electorate particularly excited as far as I can tell.

In the MPP, there are at least some structures for a generation turnover in place, but at the same time, there isn’t much buzz around any of the current leadership or some of the younger faces that are making their way through the party structure.

Doubts about the Results

Unfortunately, some doubting of the election results has been a common feature in past elections. Not only was this ostensibly the motivation for the July 1 riots, but the whole discussion of the “black machines” has been characterized by deep-seated mistrust of the counting and reporting process.

Presumably, the 2004 electoral system with 76 majoritarian districts should make the counting relatively straight-forward. Having said that, the deployment of electronic counting in 2012 did not bring the expected/desired speed in the counting-process in part because there are significant enough delays along the way that the process is not as easy as 1, 2, 3, count, report, aggregate. Out of fear about the aftermath of the election, results came very quickly on the morning after the election in 2012. But if the result is not entirely clear and/or if some constituencies might not reach the minimum required 50% participation, the results might be somewhat delayed. Any such delay will fuel speculation and doubt, in part because those are the default reactions to discussions about the counting process.

Ulaanbaatar in late June

One factor makes this election different, of course, the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit, July 15-16, with numerous heads of state and heads of government expected in town less than three weeks after the election.

Because of this event and the international visibility that will come with it for Mongolia, I’m sure that the government and all officials in the security apparatus will do everything to avoid protests or – worse – any kind of violence following the election.

I would not be surprised if alcohol was banned earlier than just the day before the election. Arrests of potential agitators appear to be happening already. On the election night itself, the police will be discretely omnipresent, I suspect.

However, what if the frustrations I foresee do boil over and express themselves in somewhat spontaneous protests, perhaps not in the centre of Ulaanbaatar but on the edge of the central area, for example? If anything were to escalate, the security forces would obviously be very reluctant to respond with any kind of force, as some parts of the world will be watching very closely in anticipation of the ASEM summit. But if protests turn violent and are not met with a forceful response? What happens if there is intermittent rioting for three nights running because no one actually wants to declare a state of emergency that close to a summit? Are there contingency plans to cancel/move ASEM?

What about races that end up undecided or close to it by some days after the election? Would the election commission then suddenly wave the minimum 50% threshold simply to force a result? How would such a decision be received?

Bottom Line

I am not quite predicting riots, but I would not be surprised if they did occur. While I was fairly certain in 2012 that the election and the reporting of results was going to pass smoothly, I am much less certain of that this year.

Posted in Elections, Ikh Khural 2016, Protest, Security Apparatus | Tagged | Leave a comment

Halfway through Сонгууль 2016 Campaign

By Julian Dierkes

The election campaign for the State Great Khural election on June 29 is over halfway through its official 18-day period. While it has been an active campaign for the 498 candidates, and visibly so, it has been politically or substantively lackluster.

Political Substance

I have frequently lamented in the past that Mongolian political parties do not offer much of a chance for citizens to give voice to their political views or preferences for the future of the country, as the parties are not defined by political platforms, but rather by personalities and patronage relations.

True enough, this campaign reinforces that impression. Not a single contested issue has really risen to the fore as something that the parties are defining themselves and their campaign around.

When ambitions are stated, they are typically described in such vague and general terms that few policy specifics can be deduced from them. Instead, a candidate’s qualifications are announced and opponents’ personal qualities are denounced. At the broadest level, the MPP is talking more about the debt that Mongolia finds itself in (and blames the DP for this debt), while the DP is highlighting some elements of transparency in mining governance.

The biggest publicity splash has been the announcement of a Tavan Tolgoi share buyback, but that really is populism in its most naked form, i.e. “hello voter, we’ll give you cash!”. There has been no policy argument attached to that, nor has the announcement really been questioned in those terms.

Black and Grey Campaigning

On social media (I continue to update the list of candidates’ Twitter accounts and I’ve identified 75 of the 498 candidates), candidates have been quite visible, but mostly just that, i.e. visible. Lots of photos from the campaign trail, some very active tweeting about candidates, some campaign-like tweeting from DP and MPP. Curiously, hashtags remain underused, even by the parties, and the notion of using social media, RTs and hashtags as a way to mobilize voters is also not apparent in the activities that are visible.

To some, the most entertaining news has been the surreptitious video of Erdenechimeg, smoking and seemingly drunk. It’s unfortunate as a measure of the quality of debate, but also because she had been a member of the women’s caucus that pushed for smoking and alcohol limitations.

Women candidates have not been particularly visible. I was actually quite surprised by an official MPP tweet that had the 20% of candidates who are women barely visible at all. The MPP doesn’t strike me as any worse in this regard than the DP, I just found this photo so visually striking at a time when any Canadian politician would be sure to feature women very prominently in campaign photographs.

Posted in Democratic Party, Ikh Khural 2016, Mongolian People's Party, Party Politics, Social Media | Tagged | 2 Comments

Civil Society Perspective on State’s Role in Large Resource Projects

By Bilguun N

ICF Workshop “State’s Role in Large Resource Projects” – Perspectives of Civil Society

When Ts Munkhbayar, was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, he was interviewed by Anthropologist Bumochir Dulam. He explained a truthful reason to come to the parliament house with a weapon, which was to be shot not to hurt or punish somebody. His extreme activities illustrate how civil society is willing to catch the public eye on some mining companies that do not care about the environment and local people’s living. The mining sector, where a quarter of GDP of Mongolia comes from, is obviously the most influential one to the country’s economy because of beneficial market location and rich reservoir.

The interest of three main corners, which are government, operation, and civil society, should be balanced.

The topic of Panel 5 at the Mining Governance Workshop was “Perspectives of Civil Society” and it was observed from the content of discussion that existing attitude of relation among 3 stakeholders has a tendency to be suspicious or trying to find negative side from each other. Moreover, sometimes they accuse or name each other as “treason” as Mr. Tur-Od mentioned. In other polite words, it could be determined that civil society has the aim to monitor the other stakeholders. Mr. Abdrakhmanov Saginbekov, Vice president of Kyrgyzaltyn JSC, said “There is a tendency to believe more in civil society organizations rather than the government among the people. If civil society organizations fight for people, they should be supported without any doubt.” In fact, seventy percent of 28,000 NGOs, 7,000 of which run actively in Mongolia, is funded by foreign organizations. Therefore, there may be some conflict of interest or imposed views from funding parties. If civil society organizations raise their funds from public donations or support and publish their expenditures open, it would be an ideal system.

On the other hand, it is an institutional industry, since 25,000 people work for NGOs, half of whom are women, and it is beneficial in terms of creating employment, paying tax or payroll, and so on. For example, the Ongi River Movement, which is founded by Ts Munkhbayar, raises funding by themselves by planting sea buckthorn trees and herding livestock. In addition, we need to remember that any professional association belongs to civil society. The professionals of this sector have already started to create associations in the institutional way to deliver their voice to decision makers, which is one good practice.

The Mongolian government has become more pro-active in setting regulations and refining existing legislation which used to contradict each other. Their relevance goes well beyond each level of state and a private sector. One of them is Glass Account Law (Budget Transparency Law), which states that each transaction of state organizations above MNT 5 million (~US$2,500) will be disclosed. Also, there are several NGOs running to make awareness of transparency to other organizations. This initiation has created a data base for any statistic of budgets and expenditures of organization and it leads to the net positive impact on their responsibility. The conclusion agreed all delegates and panelists was that the three corners need to realize they have shared values which they all fighting for and to support each other instead of seeking the worse from each other.

About Bilguun N

Bilguun (Bill) Nandinbilig is a Master’s student at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering of the University of British Columbia. His research interests are Mining economics and finance, and Sustainable development. He is working for Oyu Tolgoi Mine as a mining engineer in Mongolia.

Posted in Bilguun Nandinbilig, CIRDI, Governance, Mining, Social Movements | Leave a comment

Interesting Constellations of Candidates

There are always some interesting individuals, opposing races, and categories of candidates to be found among a number of candidates as large as 498 in this election.

Wrestlers

Bat-Erdene B (incumbent, MPP, Khentii, 40)

Sumiyabazar D (incumbent, MPP, Songinokhairkhan 73)

Sukhbat A (MPP, Tuv, 29)

Judo

Tuvshinbayar N (DP, Bayankhongor, 8), winner of a gold medal in Beijing and silver medal in London Olympics. Obviously he’s running for the DP in Bayankhongor where “Genco” Battulga is politically prominent, who is also chairman of the Judo Federation.

Singers

“Nara” Narantuya M (Independent, Bayangol 69)

Erdenetungalag G (DP, Selenge, 26)

Javkhlan S (Independent, Bayanzurkh 54)

Relatives

There are a number of relatives of various relations in races, sometimes even facing each other.

Byambatsogt S (incumbent, MPP, Khovd, 35) and Batsogt D (DP, Khovd, 35) are married to sisters, making them “Schwippschwager” to each other  (brother of your wife’s sister, in German, is there an English term?)

Batsambuu Sh (MPP, Zavkhan, 18) and Saikhansambuu Sh (Independent & Great Coalition, Zavkhan, 18) are brothers running against each other.

Arvin D (DP, Bayanzurkh, 54) and Anujin P (MPP, Bayanzurkh, 54) are not blood relatives but related by marriages. Anujin is famous for her TV show “Mongol tulgatan 100 erhem” (100 Respected People of Mongolia). Arvin was a member of parliament for the MPP before switching to the DP after the 2012 election.

Thanks

UBC’s geology grad student Enkhgerel G pointed out a number of these candidates to me.

Posted in Ikh Khural 2016 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Small, Unanticipated Impacts

By Julian Dierkes

[With some notes from CIRDI program manager, Marie-Luise Ermisch, PhD]

One of the challenges on attempting to apply my understanding of contemporary Mongolia through development interventions has been that it is forcing me to learn a number of bureaucratic and methodological tools that I am not familiar with.

I have come to specialize in analyses of contemporary Mongolia over the past 10 years or so. As I focus on contemporary politics as one of the elements of my analyses, there have been many moments where I’ve thought that I know how particular challenges might be overcome. Development interventions are clearly motivated by a similar sense of a recognition of an obstacle to development or identification of a potential catalyst. What is different in the context of our CIRDI activities, however, is that I am now attempting to demonstrate that these interventions make a meaningful difference, beyond instinctively knowing that this is a productive intervention. I am thus moving from “I know what needs to be done” to “Let me try to do something and think about what that activity is achieving and how”.

As we organized the first workshop under our collaboration with the International Cooperation Fund of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on “The State’s Role in Large Resource Projects” we have been thinking hard about standard and more creative ways to measure the impact that such an activity is having. These measures go from reporting on attendance, media coverage and comments from participants, to evaluation surveys and follow-up with foreign delegates. Below I’m listing some of the small pieces of evidence that are harder to collect in a systematic fashion, but that do speak to the impact of an activity.

Impact on our Project Team

  • Quasi-kick off event for CIRDI with key stakeholders. If people had vaguely heard of CIRDI and our Mongolia activities before, the event as well as the associated press coverage gave them a better idea of what we’re pursuing at least in our collaboration with the ICF. The event also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to directly engage with CIRDI project team members.
  • Gaining experience in organizing different kind of workshops, i.e. non-academic. Not only did this experience confirm our decision to partner with the Min of Foreign Affairs’ International Cooperation Fund (they handled all the logistics of the workshop amazingly and were very pleasant and gracious hosts), but the workshop was an opportunity to gain experience in managing speakers, expectations for attendance, and ideas for how to structure such events.
  • Visit to Mongolia for project manager as important occasion to gain understanding of Mongolian context given that we’re not setting up an in-country structure. The conference offered an ideal venue for her to meet with a variety of stakeholders right at the beginning of her visit.
  • Planning for next activity. The workshop itself provoked lots of ideas and some discussions about how to follow up. The next workshop we had originally planned has already morphed significantly.
  • The engagement of UBC students in Mongolia was obvious through this workshop. UBC graduate students currently completing co-op terms in Mongolia attended the workshop and served as rapporteurs. Among the workshop volunteers was CIRDI’s first-ever scholarship winner, who is set to start her MA at UBC this fall. During their fieldtrip to Oyu Tolgoi, the international delegates also encountered a recent UBC graduate now working at OT.

Impact on Foreign Delegates

  • Opportunities to deepen pre-existing ties. One of the delegates met a former classmate, now speaker of the Mongolian parliament.
  • Distant connections. The Khazari of Afghanistan are distantly-related to contemporary Mongolians and there are a number of Khazari students in Ulaanbaatar. While they didn’t meet, our Afghan delegate was in touch with them.
  • All six foreign delegates visited Mongolia for the first time. To the extent that such mutual visits across Asia are a generic benefit (i.e. beyond the more targeted exchange about Mongolian mining governance experience), that is terrific! First-hand experience of Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia’s largest copper mine proved a particularly valuable experience for the delegates, as was demonstrated by the excited exchange between international delegates and the OT Operations General Manager during the OT field visit.
  • One delegate reported that when the invitation for the workshop came, all colleagues said, “it can’t be done, you won’t get a passport, visa, etc.” This delegate was the first among colleagues to attend an international workshop of this kind, hopefully signalling that this kind of participation is possible to other colleagues.
  • At least one international delegate was initially taken aback by the fact that the workshop was being co-funded by a Canadian agency (CIRDI), as Canadian mining interests have a negative reputation in his home country. By the end of the workshop, however, this delegate had a better rounded insight into Canada’s role in the mining sector, and bid a friendly farewell to the Canadian organizers.
  • Access to large scale mining sites in Afghanistan is limited to women, for various reasons. The field visit to Oyu Tolgoi was therefore of particular value to our female Afghan delegate.

Impact on Mongolians

  • Opportunity to discuss taken-for-granted topics by reflecting on other country contexts.
  • Efficient form of introductory learning. As we know from an academic context, a focused workshop can be a terrific introduction to a broader topic. For many people, participating in a workshop for half a day is a more efficient way of acquiring an overview than reading a specialized book on the same subject matter. While the project team and foreign delegates participated in the workshop for the entire time, some Mongolian participants may have used this as a limited, but efficient learning opportunity.
Posted in CIRDI, Development, International Cooperation Fund, Mongolia and ... | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guest Post: State Participation in Resources Projects

By Unurjargal U

The State’s Role in Large Resource Projects

The appropriate forms for state participation in mining sector – a sensitive issue in Mongolia. The Canadian International Mineral Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) organized a cooperation conference with the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs themed “The State’s Role in Large Resource Projects“. At the 2 day conference participants and experts discussed their experiences and mistakes with interactive experiences. CIRDI invited mining experts from developing countries such as, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Laos, and Afghanistan. These various experts provided solutions which strengthened national mining governance, efficiently allocated resources and ensured diversity of the mineral sector.

Matthew Genasci, a principal consultant at “Mining Policy Group”, hypothesized that the state could become involved numerous ways in mining projects. The second panel discussion was having professionals from Mongolia major mining company “Erdenet”, “Baganuur LLC” partially owned by the state and state-owned company, national head investment company, basically mining assets, “Erdenes Mongol” present their objectives. All of these companies have different level of state participation yet the state’s participation has not been formalized. For instance, Erdenet company is owned 51 percent by the Mongolian Government in Mongolian-Russian joint venture, which contributed about 13.5% of Mongolian’s GDP and 10% of tax revenue. The Baganuur coal mine is owned 75% by the Mongolian Government and privatized 25% of its share on the market. In the case of Erdenes Mongol’s main objective is execute Mongolian state owned mining companies assets as well as public shares in market. Other well-performing, state-owned companies such as Codelco (Chile), and LKAP (Sweden) etc., have a similar situation requiring reform of state involvement. So, to what extent should the state get involved?

Root of State Participation in Mining Projects

Mining is capital-intensive, navigating many regulations to initiate most projects. First, the state must establish well-adapted mining regulations. In 2014, Mongolia adopted a “State Mining Policy” which documents the state’s role from a legal perspective. Second, the state will determine how these principles, rules and laws will be implemented. During the conference, participants expressed the view that SOEs’ board members must be independent, must improve and must stabilize each company’s governance. While ensuring transparency, the state needs to deal with total economic capacity prior to negotiating any large mining project. Third, the state needs to consider long-term and “unseen” consequences of their decisions. As claimed by the Fraser Institute, the state usually faces the problem of dynamic industries as like mining. For instance, empirical evidence shows the Tavan Tolgoi coal project bid has proven the state has fallen short in considering opportunity cost and long term considerations. Eventually, even state participation form could be varied, the principles of participation must be clearly identified.

How can states participate more?  The Future of State Participation

SOEs’ involvement in the resource sector is decreasing in developing countries with none in developed countries. The state must choose their participation level in mining projects. Once established, some fundamental principles could be identified, such as a distinction between the player and the regulator of the game; flexible state mining policy may be a good start. One of mining global leading country, Peru, approved corporate tax rate cuts from 28 to 30 percent beginning of 2016. Also British Columbia in Canada announced a relief plan for mining companies struggling with low commodity prices, aiming to not only remediate mining companies, but also providing relief for communities around large mining projects.

State flexibility will not work without transparency and will lead to a highly uncertainty environment. [The case of Mongolian Windfall Tax Regime]. Mongolian Constitutional law indicates natural resources in Mongolia shall belong exclusively to the people and be under state protection. Although, I oppose the windfall tax regime, people need to get benefit from the commodity price boom cycle. Also, the state should relieve companies and enterprises from harmful situations like commodity price downturn. Therefore, state participation must be flexible under a legislation framework working with mining companies, instead of against them, for the benefit of the country.

By the way, this conference was a great chance to discuss with newly developing mining countries like as Mongolia, to explore their strength as well as representatives figured out better suitable models on their countries to use natural resources efficiently.

About Unurjargal

Unurjargal Urjin is a Master’s student at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering of the University of British Columbia. His research interest in Social License to Operate, company and society relations. He also has working experience in Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi mining companies as mining engineering in Mongolia.

Posted in CIRDI, Mining, Mining, Mining Governance, Policy, Unurjargal Urjin | Leave a comment

Notes on Parliamentary Election Candidates & Races

By Julian Dierkes

The official campaign for the June 29 parliamentary election kicked off on June 11. The General Election Commission published the official list of candidates on June 7.

I’ve been trying to sort through this list to take note of particular interesting races and to get an overview of the political landscape. Below are some numbers.

I suspect that I will keep updating this post or re-posting it as I notice or am told about more patterns.

The number in parentheses refers to the constituency (тойрог) number

Two Constituencies with only two candidates (DP & MPP)

Bayan-Ulgii (4)

Uvs (32)

Nine Constituencies with only three candidates (DP & MPP & ?)

Bayan-Ulgii (5) Conservative Party

Umnugovi (22) MPRP

Umnugovi (23) MPRP

Selenge (27) MPRP

Tuv (29) MPRP

Tuv (30) MPRP

Uvs (33) MPRP

Khentii (40) CWGP

Khentii (42) MPRP

21 Constituencies with no Incumbents Running

Bayan-Ulgii (5)

Bayankhongor (8)

Bulgan (10)

Govi-Altai (11)

Govi-Sumber (12)

Dundgovi (13)

Zavkhan (18)

Uvurkhangai (20)

Uvurkhangai (21)

Umnugovi (22)

Tuv (29)

Khovd (34)

Khovd (36)

Khuvsgul (37)

Khentii (42)

Darkhan-Uul (44)

Orkhon (48)

Sukhbaatar (59)

Bayangol (68)

Songinokhairkhan (71)

Songinokhairkhan (76)

21 races without an incumbent means that there will be at most 55 incumbents in the new parliament, that means roughly at least a quarter of MPs will be new to parliament.

Constituencies with Most Candidates

Bayanzurkh (51): 14

Bayanzurkh (54): 13

Chingeltei (63): 13

Bayanzurkh (49): 12

Bayanzurkh (51): 12

Bayanzurkh (53): 12

Khan-Uul (55): 12

Songinokhairkhan (72): 12

City vs. Country Constituencies

28 city district constituencies with total of 283 candidates, i.e. roughly 10 per constituency

48 country districts with total of 215 candidates, roughly 4.5 per constituency

Posted in Countryside, Ikh Khural 2016, Party Politics, Ulaanbaatar | Tagged | 3 Comments

Guest Post: ICF Workshop – Private Sector Perspective

Guest Post: The Less State in mining, the better the state of mining

By Aligermaa B

Does the state, responsible for national welfare, have any business getting actively involved in a business, even in one related to essential services or strategic national resources? Or, should everything be left to the private sector which, usually less concerned with social commitments, can concentrate on competence, which is judged, almost exclusively, by profitability and shareholder satisfaction?

No one knows for sure, but regular efforts are made to find an answer. One of these was the May 16-17 workshop in Ulaanbaatar on “The State’s Role in Large Resource Projects”, organized jointly by the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) and the International Cooperation Fund of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Given the preeminence of mining in the Mongolian context, the State’s role in large resource projects was examined mostly in relation to the mining sector. Since the issue is of interest and concern to many developing countries seeking to develop their mineral resources, participants included delegates from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos and Myanmar. On offer were views from the perspective of the State, the private sector and NGOs, all speaking from direct experience.

Among the speakers were Matthew Genasci, Director of US-based Mining Policy Group, S.Oyun, member of the Mongolian Parliament, D.Bat-Erdene, Board member of Mongolian Society of Economic Geologists, N.Algaa, President of Mongolian National Mining Association, G.Battsengel, CEO of Energy Resources, and M.Tulgat, Executive Director of Khishig Arvin.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive report of the proceedings, so I am restricting myself to what the last two said, representing the private sector on Panel 4. This was on the second day and both of them spoke without a prepared text, and this informality embellished the immediacy and impact of their chosen examples, mainly showing how state participation in Mongolian mining has done more harm than good.

State owns vs State gets

Most Mongolians believe that large State shareholding in a project means more revenue for the State budget. According to G.Battsengel, CEO of Energy Resources, the facts do not bear this out. It is a myth created and nurtured by politicians to justify having their finger in the pie. There is no question that Erdenet Copper, 51% owned by the State, pays a large amount to the State, but it is no more than a private company also would pay. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report makes it clear that 90% of the total amount paid by a company to the Government is made up of taxes and fees, and Battsengel emphasized that this is what any company, private or State-owned, has to pay, with no special higher rates for the latter. Dividends, which come from profitable operations, accounted for only 5%-10% of what the State gets. In the case of the Mongolia-Russia joint company Monrostsvetment, 97% is tax payment and the rest dividends.

Since how much the State owns is thus not directly proportionate to what the State gets, Battsengel wanted the State to restrict its involvement to setting down rules and regulations, ensuring their implementation without any favors shown to State-owned enterprises (SOEs), and collecting taxes. It should also help create conditions that would help make domestic mining companies more competitive.

Playing outside the rules

Battsengel talked about the Tavan Tolgoi mine, where Energy Resources and State- and locally owned companies are active, to show how regulations are used selectively, never allowing the field to be level for all players, Professional inspectors usually turn a blind eye when SOEs operate outside the regulations, but they are very strict that the private companies keep to the line. For example, coal should be transported along the paved road which, incidentally but importantly, has been built by a private company on its own. However, the SOEs continue to use the dirt roads, to avoid paying for use of the paved road. Their defense is that their responsibility ends as soon as the coal is sold at the mine and thereafter it is up to the buyer to decide how to transport the coal. Battsengel wondered if a private company would be allowed to get away with such specious arguments.

He then referred to selective extraction of coal, a practice prohibited by law, but merrily indulged in by SOEs in recent years. Extracting higher-quality coal, together with less soil removal, certainly makes for more profits, but, according to Battsengel, it is a clear breach of the policy laid down for long-term natural resources use.

M.Tulgat, whos company works as an operator at the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi mine, also talked about specific problems faced at work. For starters, he said, SOEs do not make timely payments. Not that there would be no money; more often, it would have been frittered away on underproductive and wasteful expenses. Tulgat said one person in his company would do an engineering job for which SOEs would employ four workers. Hiring an operator company would be a good way for State companies to save money. A comparison of how State, local and private companies worked in Tavan Tolgoi would be an interesting exercise, Tulgat thought.

Lessons Learned

Battsengel felt a right policy would open the door to more productive cooperation between the State and private sectors in Mongolia, and hoped the recent move to substitute State ownership with a special royalty rate would be a paradigm for future development.

State ownership of mines is almost unheard of in developed countries, but that has not stopped the mining sector in Australia or Canada – to take two countries with strong links to this sector in Mongolia – from playing an important role in the country’s economy. The lasting impression one carried from the workshop was that Mongolia should discourage any increased Government role in mining. State involvement usually turns into a license for political interference, which does the mining no good.

There is much talk in Mongolia about responsible mining. It appears we first have to understand the need for responsible governance.

About

Aligermaa Bayarsaikhan will be a Master’s student at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering of the University of British Columbia. She has been working at the Central Bank of Mongolia since 2012. Her Master’s project is focused on the effective management of the revenues generated from Mongolia’s extractive sector.

Posted in Aligermaa Bayarsaikhan, Business, CIRDI, EITI, International Cooperation Fund, Mining, Mining Governance | 2 Comments

Transparency and My Independence

By Julian Dierkes

Mongolian

Since around 2014, I have increasingly been asked why I am interested in Mongolia. As my interest is academic and curiosity-driven, I thought it best to offer a discussion of my independence in providing analyses of contemporary Mongolia, especially with another election looming in 2016. Note that I’ve already written about the roots of my interest in Mongolia (English/Mongolian), but want to add a discussion of my independence to that post.

Academic Freedom and Professional Autonomy

I am a tenured associate professor.

What does that mean?

“Tenured”, in a nutshell (though not legally) means that I hold my position until I retire. Short of doing something pretty terrible or not fulfilling my obligations, I cannot be fired by my university. For more discussion, you might enjoy the Wikipedia entry.

Why would a university ever offer a professor tenure? The system of tenure evolved with the establishment of universities as one of a number of safeguards of academic freedom. Essentially, universities (at least in their origin in Europe and their institutionalization in N America) have recognized that researchers who are free to follow their research interests are more likely to make “heretical” academic discoveries. While not every professor who thinks that everyone else is wrong about a particular aspect of our understanding of the world, is right, every once in a while a researcher comes along who offers an entirely novel perspective. S/he is protected by academic freedom to elaborate this perspective and pursue a research agenda.

How is Tenure Granted and What does it Mean?

How is this security and the professional autonomy that comes with it earned? In Canada, researchers (in the social sciences where I dwell as a sociologist) are typically hired when they are about to complete their PhD (i.e. defend their dissertation), or after they have completed their PhD. Note that the PhD requires different kind of reviews at different institutions, sometimes involving outside examiners (outside one’s department or even university) as well as professors who have not been advising the student. Today, the PhD is essentially required to become an assistant professor in Canada.

Typically, assistant professors are then hired on a three-year contract. After three years this contract is renewed following a review for another three years. After these initial six years, an assistant professor then applies for promotion to associate professor rank AND for tenure. The process to grant this promotion and tenure again involves the review of the applicant’s research (publications, often prioritized over other aspects), her/his teaching, and contributions to the operations of the university. These achievements are reviewed within the applicant’s unit (i.e. department, in my case, UBC’s Institute of Asian Research). That unit then issues a recommendation to a committee at the Faculty level (in our case, the Faculty of Arts, for example), which in turn issues a recommendation to a committee at the university level. That committee issues a recommendation to the university president who generally follows these recommendations. This process all in all lasts about a year and then results in promotion with tenure, or in a final year-long contract after which the individual who has been denied tenure & promotion will have to find a job elsewhere.

This lengthy process involves myriads checks and balances. For example, to prevent departments from simply reproducing themselves by pressuring assistant professors to follow the example of senior professors, committees beyond the department are involved. Also, criteria for the evaluation of applicants for promotion are somewhat general, but are meant to give candidates an idea what they need to be striving for in terms of research, teaching (including teaching evaluations and graduate supervision), and service.

And in the end… the lucky candidate like myself is rewarded with tenure, giving me job security and the professional autonomy to select my areas of interest. At UBC there are additional annual merit evaluations that can result in additional pay increases, and there is also promotion from Associate to Full Professor (following a roughly similar process to that for tenure and promotion to Associate), but even without merit pay increases, an associate professor could stay in his/her job until her/his retirement.

Especially on matters of academic and research substance, this entire system is designed to isolate an academic from any imaginable pressures in choosing the subject matter, theoretical orientation, or methodology for their research. A Dean, Provost or President may well discuss my research with me (obviously, I would be delighted to talk about my research), but they are generally not in a position to tell me what to do research on. As it comes to my Mongolia interests, there is thus no “superior” or “boss” who could direct me to study one subject matter over another, or to take a particular perspective in my research.

Financial Benefits

Investments

As an academic, I am well-paid, but not well enough to be a private investor of any significance. I thus have no direct financial stakes in any companies doing business in Mongolia or anywhere else.

My UBC pension fund invests in all kinds of companies and financial instruments, including some tied to the mining industry and/or to Mongolia, but those decisions are removed from my views and activities in Mongolia and I actually don’t know what exactly investments my pension fund may hold.

Consulting

I have benefitted from the fact that my understanding of Mongolian political developments, and of mining policy, has been useful to various individuals and companies in the past. I have thus been able to offer some limited consulting services, primarily to financial investors who are keen to develop an understanding of the likelihood of political changes or on investments they may be considering. I also contribute to some systematic attempts to capture political and other risks, and some of these contributions are paid.

The grand total of my income from such consulting opportunities over the past 10 years would amount to less than twice my monthly income. Other than with a small number of global indices (of the kind listed on my Mongolia Scorecard), I have not had any sustained relationship with any clients of this kind.

Other Funding

I have been fortunate enough to find support for many trips to Mongolia and academic activities from a variety of sources, including private individuals, companies, foundations, and governments.

The largest amount of funding was related to a conference I organized in 2008 that was held at UBC and resulted in an edited book, “Change in Democratic Mongolia“. All the funding I received in that context went toward paying for participants in the conference to attend and for their accommodations, food, etc., as well as some research assistance. I have received some small amounts from the Canadian government, typically to support conference trips.

Accepting Funding

I would be delighted to accept donations, endowments, or any other kind of support for Mongolia activities at UBC. That support would be appropriately acknowledged and such acknowledgment would also signal the source of the funding.

Note that the same kind of professional autonomy that is in place for me as a researcher, holds for UBC as an institution. If we were to receive a significant donation to support Mongolia activities, for example, this would be accepted only on the condition that all substantive and especially all academic decisions would be made within the university. Typically, a donor sets the direction for activities based on a donation but does not select or endorse specific activities. For example, someone might fund another significant conference on contemporary Mongolia, perhaps even with a theme, but the selection of presentations would be academically-driven, not determined by a donor.

In sum…

I would confidently claim that I have not been influenced and would be unlikely to be influenced in the future by any financial advantages I might derive from support of my Mongolia research.

Political Independence

Nations

I am not a spy.

I do like to read spy novels, watch spy movies, and I did grow up in (West) Berlin, by some accounts the one-time greatest hotbed of Cold War espionage.

However, I do not act on any governments’ behalf, neither my native German government, nor the Canadian government. Not even the Mongolian government, although my enthusiasm for all things Mongolian might make some people believe that I act on behalf of Mongolia.

Somewhat disappointingly (to this delighted reader of spy fiction), no government agency has ever attempted to hire me as any kind of spy.

Political Parties

I do not actively support any Mongolian political party. Nor am I a member or active supporter of any particular party anywhere else. I would say that my political leanings are broadly social democratic, but that orientation doesn’t match all that well onto the Mongolian political scene.

I know members and activists of several Mongolian parties and I enjoy political conversations with them. I also have had and will continue to have interactions with governments and the party members that fill important positions in governments.

Surely, some political activists have tried and will try to convince me of political positions or statements that might benefit their party more than another party. And, I’m sure, that I have been convinced by such political arguments in the past and that this will also happen in the future. However, I hope and I am reasonably confident that I am persuaded by the power of an argument or evidence for a perspective, not by a party affiliation or my personal association or friendship with a political activist.

Some Views of Mongolian Politics

In general, I strive for political neutrality in my comments on Mongolian political developments.

I do believe that Mongolia would benefit from more substantive political debates and from the introduction of more evidence-based policy proposals. But that holds for the entire spectrum of political views and is really more of a perspective on the political process, rather than a perspective on any particular political party.

I have little understanding for the kind of corruption that seems to involve personal enrichment, typically at the expense of fellow countrymen and women. I find that kind of behaviour in politicians deplorable no matter what political stripes politicians wear.

I am also not a great fan of political maneuvers that are carried our for political gain, independent of the benefit or loss to the nation. One of the aspects of learning more about Mongolia that makes this an interesting endeavour is the feeling, nay knowledge, that Mongolia’s potential is enormous. If only… is an attitude that could be applied to many aspects of contemporary Mongolia. This is especially true of politics.

Abuses of power and its use for political gain are more likely to occur in a ruling party or among members of a government, independent of that party’s orientation. I am thus more likely to identify faults that I see in any current government or government policy, than in the opposition.

In sum…

I claim to be politically neutral and focused on analysis of political developments, not to influence them.

Bottom Line

I have outlined these various elements of my professional autonomy to make one essential point: I do not take orders from anyone in terms of the substantive emphasis of my analyses of contemporary Mongolia. I invite anyone who suspects me of any kind of bias (post-colonial, Eurocentric, industry, political, national, etc.) to scrutinize the above and to examine my analyses. I hope that the discussion above does allow a critique to begin her/his scrutiny from a position of a basic trust in my independence if the above discussion has been useful.

Julian Dierkes
June 2016

Posted in Research on Mongolia | Tagged | 3 Comments

Democracy in Decline?

By Julian Dierkes

Is it time to worry seriously about the state of democracy in Mongolia?

Mongolian Democracy in International Context

Globally, democracy appears to be declining. After the euphoria of the post-Cold War spread of democracy and various seasonal and coloured revolutions around the world, there seems to be an overall trend of backsliding. This is prominent documented in attempts to measure the state of democracy globally, such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index. The 2016 edition of the Freedom in the World report is entitled “Anxious Dictators, Wavering Democracies: Global Freedom under Pressure“.

Seen in this global context, Mongolia is a bright spot.

In a regional context where democracy is declining across SE Asia (except for Myanmar, perhaps), for example, and not deeply institutionalized across the Asian continent, Mongolia remains the only post-state socialist democracy in Asia.

It is important to take note of this exceptional status of Mongolia, especially given the rather tough neighbourbood that it finds itself in in terms of good governance and democracy with its sometimes overbearing immediate neighbours Russia and China.

Note that it is Mongolian dedication to democracy that I usually emphasize in discussions outside of Mongolia. Such discussions have always acknowledged the numerous challenges and contradictions that are inherent to democracy, and the fact that most democracies continuously search for improvements to electoral systems, the nature of parties, and the engagement of voters. Mongolia is no exception to this, nor are Canada or Germany.

Mongolian Democracy in a Domestic Context

While it is important to emphasize Mongolia’s democratic achievements when comparing them to other democratic and non-democratic countries, it is also important to take stock of the country’s democratization in the context of Mongolians’ aspirations. Here, recent polls (SantMaral | IRI)  seem to suggest clearly that while Mongolians are devoted to the idea of democracy, they are (increasingly) unhappy with the political institutions that govern the country.

While these doubts about political institutions have existed for some time, there are some new elements to concerns about the trajectory of democracy. For me these concerns centre on

  • a new sense of fear and intimidation of critical voices
  • more and more blatant manipulation of the electoral process
  • more and more blatant disregard for the courts and the constitution
  • the ongoing absence of policy or, indeed, political debates.

Let’s go from the most general to the more specific concerns.

The Absence of Political Debates

Elections and the general political process are intended to give citizens the opportunity to determine the direction of developments of the nation. In many democracies this expression of the citizens’ will is mediated by political parties who stand for particular ideologies or approaches to national development.

Elections are not intended as a contest over who can secure power for power’s sake, but rather for the sake of seeing through a particular vision for the country.

Popular and fringe political parties in Mongolia have not developed strong ideological or policy-related profiles over the 25 years of democracy. While the General Election Commission is currently examining election platforms, I don’t think anyone is expecting radically different proposals by the DP from the MPP, for example. Even on the most consequential questions facing Mongolia, for example regarding the development and governance of mineral resources, the parties do not have distinct positions. Recall as an example the 2008 campaign: The DP offered a cash payment of₮1mio to each citizen. The then-MPRP trumped this with a ₮1.5mio offer. Were these different conceptualizations of Mongolia’s future? Differences between the parties, including the smaller parties, often mirror this past campaign promise in that they do not speak to a different approach to policy-making or different policies to be pursued.

Given the lack of political profiles among the parties, voters are deprived of the opportunity to make their views on important questions heard. This leads to the apparently wide-spread sense that voters do not have any real alternatives to chose from. This is not a new nor an unusual feature of Mongolian democracy, but in the current context of changes to the electoral system, it is a feature that is ever clearer and where there are few visible changes.

Note, however, that it is in the hands of Mongolian voters to change this by voting for political options that are defined by policy (differences), as long as the electoral process allows them to do so. That opportunity is looking more remote for this coming election, however.

Disregard for the Courts and the Constitution

The track record of Mongolia’s governments in terms of respecting the courts is somewhat spotty. Of course, democratic governments all over the world disagree with courts’ decisions. That is perfectly fine. All constitutions provide a process by which legislatures are able to overrule court decisions as the legislature represents the voice of the people, the courts are only meant to adjudicate between conflicting views of the law. However, it is the process by which legislatures and governments are able to respond to court decisions that is important. A prerequisite for this process is an independent judiciary, that is a court system where judges are respected and where they do not need to fear retaliation by the government if they overturn a law.

Of course, judges are not above the law themselves.

However, over the past six months we’ve seen instances of the dismissal of judges that are ostensibly based on misdeeds, but fairly transparently are motived by political opposition. That is a very dangerous precedent because it opens the courts to manipulation. There’s no point to courts that can be manipulated politically.

The same disregard for the courts found an expression in the brief flurry of a constitutional debate late in 2015. While discussions of constitutional structures are important and 25 years seems like an entirely appropriate time to have such discussions, no real discussions occurred. There were proposals, including on the important question of the balance of power between the presidency, the cabinet and the State Great Khural. But the speed with which these proposals were dropped suggests that the proposal was primarily rooted in political purposes, perhaps a side skirmishes to distract from more important and pressing decisions, rather than a genuine constitutional discussion.

Casual and half-baked constitutional proposals are not likely to instil a respect for the constitution which does, of course, provide the most basic set of rules that govern political processes.

The High Court decision that proportional representation is not constitutional also strikes me as primarily political rather than judicial. Obviously, there are very legitimate debates about different electoral systems and how the impact that the wording of the constitution has on this choice. Ironically, Canada is debating a shift to proportional representation just as Mongolia has been abandoning it.

But it should be remembered that stability in the electoral system is a virtue most of the time. It means that voters understand how they’re voting and that results are more easily anticipated and thus more legitimate. That is not to say that there should be no discussion about alternatives; it would be good to recall, however, that all electoral systems have biases and flaws, so endless tinkering will not bring a perfect system. For Mongolia, the coming election will be run under the 2004 electoral system of 76 first-past-the-post constituencies which means that the last three elections (2008, 2012, 2016) will have all been conducted under different systems.

Regarding the High Court decision, I also have to find it rather curious that the Ikh Khural was elected in 2012, sat as a legislature for four years and just 2 months before the next election its constitutional legitimacy is challenged? Is there a legitimate argument that does not see this as politicking?

Manipulation of the Electoral Process

The broader electoral system is one of the challenges that Mongolian voters will be facing, but there have been numerous other changes that look like political manipulation to preserve power, not a deepening of democracy. The DP and MPP as the largest and best-organized parties are the likely beneficiaries of these changes and appear to be colluding in bringing these changes about. The switch to majoritarian districts is thus one that is likely to be a disadvantage to smaller parties and independents.

Sure, a shortening of the campaign period to 18 days means that less money will be spent, but it also gives an advantage to incumbents and well-established political forces, including the two big parties. And given that there has been little effort to reform campaign/political finance otherwise (despite some recurring proposals to do so), it’s hard not to think of this as primarily a move to lock out independents and smaller parties.

The fact that candidates are not allowed to make appearances in their constituencies until the beginning of the campaign period also gives an advantage to incumbents who are allowed to continue to go about their (political) business.

It seems like no efforts are being spared to keep out any upstart parties and independents. While the XUN Party has self-destructed through internal conflict to some extent, the fact that it is being excluded from the campaign largely on formal grounds of late submission of paperwork, etc. speaks volumes about the seriousness of the effort to keep smaller parties out. Of course, administrative requirements and provisions of the election law should be enforced, but why have these provisions been put in place in the first place? Have they been included to promote democracy or to limit it?

The same argument might apply to the MPRP and N Enkhbayar’s candidacy in particular. I am not arguing that former president Enkhbayar has been a force for democratization and general well-being before or since his criminal conviction, but he continues to be the preferred political option of a significant number of Mongolians. He, like any candidate, needs to adhere to administrative and legal requirements, but by the same token, these requirements should not be designed to deliberately limit democratic choices.

All this is happening, as I have argued above, in the absence of political programs from the DP and MPP and thus appears to be a fairly naked bid for the preservation of power.

A New Sense of Intimidation

What is most startling and entirely new to my experience in Mongolia is a sense of dread and sometimes even fear among Mongolian friends, especially journalists and public figures. Whether or not the allegations about the political use of the security apparatus are true or not (or if they can ever be true given that they trade in the currency of conspiracies, etc.), the mere fact that some Mongolians now appear to be afraid about speaking out is a terrible development. For this, only the current government and thus the DP can be blamed since they (legitimately) control the security apparatus.

For me that development started around the death/murder of Bolormaa, the former editor of the Mongolian Mining Journal. As far as I know, we still have not been given an official and conclusive answer on the question of whether she was murdered or not. That in itself is worrying, but it is also a sign of the disregard for critical voices. Bolormaa had become increasingly outspoken in her writing and criticism of corruption prior to her death. The sense that this might have been the ultimate motivation for her murder – IF it was murder – seems widespread.

A much less extreme and traumatic step was the dismissal of Jargal De Facto by MNB. While all kinds of official reasons were given, this seemed to be the consequence of Jargal calling out political interference in the courts.

Bolormaa and Jargal de Facto have in common that they are journalists that have established themselves as independent and critical voices. Not critical in a partisan way, but rather calling on politicians to not be corrupt and to be dedicated to the tasks that they have been elected too, criticisms that an independent and free press is essential for in democracies.

At an event during my last trip to Ulaanbaatar, I was taken aside and asked to recall the provisions of the election law in choosing how to present my views. That is entirely appropriate. When I speak in Mongolia, I am obviously subject to the provisions of Mongolian law and it is good to be reminded of that. However, I also take note that this was the first time that anyone had ever felt like such a reminder is needed.

Why? Because the election law bans comments on the likely result of the election and any comments that might be interpreted as benefitting or denigrating any parties that are running in the election.

I have always thought that some of the provisions of Mongolian election laws have been innovative and worth considering. The ban on polling is an example of such a provision as polls do certainly sway voters in elections elsewhere. However, when the intention to allow citizens to submit their vote without any undue influence by polling and others’ opinions turns into a restriction on analyses of the political scene and discussions of the implications of electoral outcomes, that goes too far in my mind.

My Worries

In sum, I am worried about the fate of two essential ingredients of any democracy in Mongolia:

  1. free, lively, unencumbered political debate
  2. elections as an expression of the populations’ intentions for the future of their country.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Democracy, Elections, Governance, Ikh Khural 2016, Media and Press, Party Politics, Politics, Security Apparatus | Tagged | 2 Comments

Судлаачын хараат бус байдал

Монголыг яагаад сонирхож эхлэх болсон талаар 2014 оны үеээс хүмүүс надаас илүүтэйгээр асуух боллоо. Миний хувьд эрдэм шинжилгээ болон  өөрийн-сонирхолдоо хөтлөгдөж, орчин үеийн Монголын болон ялангуяа ирж буй 2016 оны сонгуулийн дүн шинжилгээнүүдийг хараат бусаар хийдэг гэдгээ тайлбарлах нь зөв гэж үзлээ.  Би өмнө нь Монголыг яагаад сонирхох болсон тухай бичвэр хийсэн бөгөөд түүн дээр нэмээд өөрийн бие даасан байдлаа тайлбарлаж байгаа юм.

Судлаачын эрх чөлөө бөгөөд Мэргэжлийн хараат бус байдал

Би бол дархлаатай (tenured) дэд профессор.

Энэ нь юу гэсэн үг вэ?

“Дархлаа” гэдэг нь хялбараар ойлгоход (хэдийгээр хуулийн дагуу өөр ч) би энэ албан тушаалаа тэтгэвэртээ гартал хадгална гэсэн үг. Ямар нэгэн аймшигтай муухай зүйл хийх эсвэл өөрийн үүрэг хариуцлагыг биелүүлээгүйгээс бусад тохиолдолд сургууль намайг ажлаас халах боломжгүй юм. Илүү нэмэлт тайлбар хүсвэл та бүхэнд Wikipedia entry сонирхолтой байна байх.

Яагаад сургууль професортоо дархлаа тогтоодог вэ гэсэн асуулт гарч ирнэ. Энэхүү дархлааны систем нь Их сургуулиудын үүсэн батжих явцтай хамт хувьсан өөрчлөгдөн ирсэн бөгөөд эрдэм шинжилгээний эрх чөлөөт байдлыг хамгаалах хэд хэдэн бамбайны нэг нь юм. Мөн ингэснээрээ их сургуулиуд (ямар ч байсан хойд америкд институчлэгдсэн Европ үүсэлтэй сургуулиудын хувьд) тухайн судлаач өөрийн судалгааны сонирхлыг дагаснаар “ер бусын” нээлтийг хийх боломжтой гэдгийг таньж зөвшөөрсөн хэрэг юм. Хэдийгээр өөрөөсөө бусдын дэлхий ертөнцийг ойж ухаарах тодорхой өнцөг нь буруу байна гэж харах эрдэмтэн болгон зөв биш ч үе үе цоо шинэ тайлбарыг, ойлголтыг гаргаж тавих судлаачид байдаг. Тэрхүү судлаач нь өөрийн эрдэм шинжилгээний эрх чөлөөт байдлаар хамгаалагдаж өөрийнхөө судалгааг цааш нь үргэлжлүүлэх бүрэн боломжтой болдог.

Дархлаа хэрхэн олгогддог ба энэ нь юу гэсэн үг вэ?

Энэ баталгаат байдал болон мэргэжлийн хараат бус байдлыг хэрхэн олж авах вэ? Канадын хувьд ихэнхдээ судлаачдыг (миний судлаач хэмээн гэршдэг нийгмийн судалгааны салбарт) Докторын зэргээ (PhD) хамгаалахын өмнөхөн эсвэл дөнгөж хамгаалахад нь ажилд авдаг. Докторын зэрэг хамгаалахад маш олон төрлийн шалгалтыг өөр өөр институтууд хийдэг бөгөөд зарим тохиолдолд гадны шалгагч (өөрийн танхим, цаашлаад сургуулиас гадна) мөн тухайн судлаачид зөвлөж байсан профессорууд ордог гэдгийг анхаарах хэрэгтэй. Өнөөдөр, туслах профессор (assistant professor) болоход дор хаяад PhD байх хэрэгтэй.

Ерөнхийдөө туслах профессорууд гурван жилийн гэрээтэйгээр ажлаа эхэлдэг. Гурван жилийн гэрээ дуусахад гүйцэтгэлийг үнэлсэний үндсэн дээр гэрээ дахин гурван жилээр сунгагдана. Ингээд зургаан жилийн дараа туслах профессор  дараагийн шатны албан тушаал болох дэд профессор болон судалгааны дархлаатай болох хүсэлт гаргана. Энэхүү зэрэг дэвшүүлэх болон дархлаа олгох явц нь тухайн хүсэлт гаргагчийн судалгаа, (судалгааны зохиол бүтээл ихэвчлэн бусад зүйлсээсээ тэргүүлэх ач холбогдолтой байдаг) хичээл заах арга барил, мөн сургуулийн үйл ажиллагаанд оруулсан хувь нэмэр зэргийг  үндэслэн  шийдвэрлэнэ. Тус үнэлгээнүүдийг тухайн туслах профессорын тэнхэм (жишээ нь миний хувьд Бритиш Колумбын Их Сургуулийн Ази Судлалын Хүрээлэн) хийдэг. Тус хэлтэс нь Факултетийн түвшинд санал оруулах бөгөөд (миний хувьд Хүмүүнлэгийн ухааны факультет) факультет нь сургуулийн зөвлөлд санал оруулана. Ингээд сургуулийн зөвлөл сургуулийн ерөнхийлөгчид санал оруулах бөгөөд ихэнхдээ сургуулийн ерөнхийлөгч эдгээр саналуудыг зөвшөөрдөг. Энэ явц нь бүхлээрээ жил гаруй хугацаанд үргэлжлэх бөгөөд үр дүнд нь судалгааны дархлаатай зэрэг олгогдох бөгөөд хэрвээ тухайн зэрэг горилогч тэнцээгүй бол өөр салбарт ажил хайх хэрэгтэй болдог.

Энэхүү урт хугацааны үйл явц нь маш олон талын шалгуур үзүүлэлтийг хамардаг. Жишээ нь ахлах профессорууд туслах профессоруудыг дарамтлан, өөрсдийн загварыг хүлээн зөвшөөрүүлэх зэргийг давтахгүй байх үүднээс   тухайн хэлтэс тэнхэмээс гадна зөвлөлийг   оролцуулдаг. Мөн зэрэг нэмэхэд  тавигдах үнэлгээний  шалгуур үзүүлэлтүүд нь нилээд ерөнхий байдаг, гэхдээсудалгаа, заах арга зүй (багшлах арга барилын үнэлгээ болон дипломны дараах сургалтын арга зүйч гэсэн зүйлс багтана) мөн үйлчилгээний хувьд тухайн нэр дэвшигчийг ямар зүйлүүд дээр анхаарал хандуулах  хэрэгтэй талаар  шинэ санаа болж байдаг.

Эцэст  нь, надтай адил азтай нэр дэвшигч судалгааны дархлаатай болох бөгөөд баталгаатай ажил болон сонирхсон сэдвээ сонгон судлах эрх чөлөөг олж авна. БКИС-ийн хувьд жил болгон нэмэлт үнэлгээ хийж цалингийн нэмэгдэл,  дэд болон бүрэн профессоруудын холбооноос урамшуулал авах боломжтой бөгөөд мэрит нэмэгдэл цалингүй байсан ч тухайн дэд профессор тэтгэвэрт гартлаа өөрийн ажилаа хадгалан үлдэх боломжтой байдаг.

Ялангуяа эрдэм шинжилгээний болон судалгааны агуулгын хувьд энэ бүтэц нь судлаач багшийг судалгаа, онолын чиг хандлага мөн судалгааны арга зэргийг сонгоход төсөөлж болох бүх дарамтнаас хамгаалсан байдаг. Декан, Провост эсвэл Ерөнхийлөгч ч бай надтай миний судалгааны талаар чөлөөтэй ярилцах боломжтой ч (мэдээж би судалгааныхаа талаараа санал солилцохдоо туйлын баяртай байна шүү дээ) тэд надад юуг судлах талаар хэлэх боломжгүй юм. Тиймээс, Монголын талаарх миний сонирхол түүнтэй холбоотойгоор аливаа сэдвийг нөгөөгөөс илүүд үзэн судлуулахад залах эсвэл аль нэг өнцгийг барих “ард нь байдаг хүн” болон “босс” гэсэн хүн миний хувьд байхгүй.

Санхүүгийн ашиг хонжоо

Хөрөнгө оруулалт

Судлаач багшийн хувьд хэдийгээр боломжийн цалин авдаг ч хувиасаа хөрөнгө оруулахах хэмжээний хангалттай биш байдаг. Тиймээс надад Монголд болон аль нэгэн улсад ямар ч компанид санхүүгийн хувь ноогдол байхгүй.

БКИС-ийн тэтгэвэрийн сан нь олон төрлийн компани болон санхүүгийн портфолиод хөрөнгө оруулдаг бөгөөд Монголын уул уурхайн салбартай холбоотой байж болох хэдий ч түүнд би ямар нэгэн байдлаар нөлөөлөх огт боломжгүй байдаг бөгөөд яг үнэндээ миний тэтгэвэрийн мөнгө хаана хөрөнгө оруулалттай байгааг би мэдэхгүй.

Зөвөлгөө үйлчилгээ

Монголын улс төрийн өөрчлөлт болон уул уурхайн бодлогын талаарх миний мэдлэг, ойлголт зэрэг нь зарим нэг хувь хүн болон тодорхой компаниудад хэрэг болж надад ашиг хүртээсэн. Энэ бага хэмжээний зөвлөх үйлчилгээг улс төрийн ойлголт, өөрчлөлт болон хувьсал зэргийг тооцон мэдэхийг хүссэн санхүүгийн хөрөнгө оруулагч нарт хийсэн. Мөн энэхүү оролдлогодоо тооцож болох улс төрийн болон бусад эрсдлийг оруулсан бөгөөд эдгээрийн заримд нь төлбөр авсан.

Сүүлийн 10 жилд  зөвлөх үйлчилгээнээс олсон орлого маань миний нэг сарын цалингийн хоёрны нэгээс бага юм. Даяарчлалын индексийн маш цөөн үйлчлүүлэгчдээс (Mongolia Scorecard дээр байгаа шиг) бусдаар энэ төрлийн өөр ямар ч  л үйлчлүүлэгчтэй урт хугацааны тогтсон харилцаа байхгүй болно.

Бусад санхүүжилт

Миний бие Монголруу хийсэн олон айлчлалууд болон судалгааны ажлуудаа гүйцэтгэхэд цөөнгүй удаахувь хүн, компани, сан хөмрөг болон засгийн газруудаас санхүүгийн дэмжлэг босгох хувь тохиож байсан..

Хамгийн том санхүүжилт нь миний 2008 онд БКИС-д зохион байгуулсан бага хурал бөгөөд түүнээс “Монголын Ардчилалын Өөрчлөлт” (орч Change in Democratic Mongolia) гэсэн ном гарсан юм. Авсан санхүүжилт маань тухайн хуралтай холбоотой  оролцогчдын байр, хоол болон туслах судлаач нарын зардалд зарцуулагдсан болно. Үүнээс гадна Канадын Засгийн Газраас бага хэмжээний санхүүжилтыг зөвөлгөөн, бага хуралд оролцох зориулалтаар авч байсан.

Санхүүгийн тусламж

Би БКИС дэх Монголтой холбоотой үйл ажиллагааг дэмжих өргөл, хандив болон бусад төрлийн дэмжлэгүүдийг хүлээн авахдаа туйлын баяртай байх болно. Тухайн дэмжлэг нь зүй зохистойгоор зарлагдан мэдэгддэг (болон мэдэгдэх) ба тухайн мэдэгдэлд санхүүжилтийн эх үүсвэрийг оруулдаг (болон оруулах) болно.

Миний мэргэжлийн хараат бус байдал нь мөн адил БКИС хувьд институцийн түвшинд байдаг гэдгийг анхааралдаа аваарай. Хэрвээ Монголын үйл ажиллагаанд зориулсан их хэмжээний хандив орж ирлээ гэхэд зөвхөн бүх судалгааны шийдвэрүүд их сургууль дээр гаргана гэсэн нөхцөлтэйгөөр л зөвшөөрөгдөх жишигээр явна. Ер нь тухайн донор хандиваар дамжуулан үйл ажиллагааны чиглэлийг л тавихаас биш тодорхой үйл ажиллагааг эрхэмлэх эсвэл сонгодоггүй. Жишээ нь хэн нэгэн орчин үеийн Монголын талаар өөр нэгэн бага хуралд хандив өгье гэж бодоход хэдийгээр сэдэв нь байлаа ч тухайн хуралд тавигдах илтгэл нь судалгаанд хөтлөгдсөн байх бөгөөд хандивлагч тодорхойлохгүй.

Товчхондоо …

Би  Монголтой холбоотой судалгааг дэмжин орж ирсэн санхүүгийн олзны нөлөөнд ороогүй бөгөөд цаашид ч орохгүй гэдгээ бат итгэлтэйгээр зарлаж байна.

Улс төрийн хараат бус байдал

Улс үндэстэн

Би тагнуул биш.

Би тагнуултай зохиол уншиж, тагнуулын кино үзэх дуртай мөн нэгэн цагт хүйтэн дайны тагнуулын халуун өлгий болсон би (Баруун) Бэрлинд өсөж ,том болсон.

Гэвч би Герман ч бай, Канад ч бай аль ч засгийн газарт үйлчилдэггүй. Тэр бүү хэл Монголын Засгийн газарт ч үйлчилдэггүй, хэдийгээр Монголын талаарх миний бадрангуй сэтгэл болон үйл ажил маань хэн нэгэнд би Монголд үйлчилдэг мэт итгүүлж магадгүй.

Харамсалтай ч гэх үү (энэхүү тагнуултай зохиол шимтэн уншигч болох миний биед) аль ч засгийн газар намайг ямар ч түвшиний тагнуулын ажилд авах оролдлого хийгээгүй болно.

Улс төрийн намууд

Миний бие Монголын улс төрийн намуудаас алийг нь ч идвэхитэй дэмждэггүй. Мөн хаана ч ямар нэгэн намын гишүүнчлэл байхгүй бөгөөд идэвхитэйгээр дэмждэггүй. Миний улс төрийн чиг хандлага илүү социал ардчилсан талруугаа байдаг хэдий ч Монголын улс төрийн тавцанд энэ чиг хандлага таарамж муутай байдаг.

Би Монголын улс төрийн намын идэвхитэн болон гишүүдийг мэддэг бөгөөд тэдэнтэй улс төрийн талаар ярилцах дуртай байдаг. Мөн засгийн газар болон намын гишүүд засгийн газарт чухал албан тушаалд байх хүмүүстэй харилцаатай байдаг бөгөөд цаашид ч харилцаатай байх болно.

Мэдээж, зарим улс төрийн идэвхитэнүүд тухайн нэг намд бусад намуудаас ашигтай байр суурь илэрхийлүүлэх гэж ятгадаг (мөн цаашид ч гарах байх). Мөн, иймэрхүү улс төрийн маргаан, ятгалтанд орж байсан бөгөөд цаашид ч ийм зүйл тохиолдох байх гэж бодож байна. Гэхдээ би намын холбоо сүлбээ, тухайн намын холбоо нөхөрлөл зэргээс илүүтэйгээр тухайн ятгалагын үнэ цэнэ, баримтад суурилсан байдал зэргийг харж шийдвэрээ гаргадаг гэдэгт итгэлтэй байна.

Монголын улс төрийн талаар зарим бодол

Би Монголын улс төрийн өөрчлөлт шилжилтийн талаарх коммэнтдээ төвийг сахих гэж мэрийдэг.

Миний бие мөн Монголыг илүү бодит үндэслэлтэй улс төрийн мэтгэлцээн болон илүү баримтад суурилсан бодлогуудаас үр өгөөж хүртэнэ гэж итгэдэг. Гэхдээ энэ үзэл маань улс төрийн бүхий л хүрээнд хамрах бөгөөд энэ нь улс төрийн намаар харах гэхээс илүүтэй улс төрийн процессын зүгээс нь харах явдал юм.

Би хувийн ашиг хонжоог бусдын зовлонгоор олдог авилгын талаар маш бага ойлголттой. Ийм зан хандлага нь тухайн улс төрч ямар өнгөтэй байхаас хамаарахгүй надад маш өрөвдөлтэй санагддаг.

Мөн тухайн улсад ашигтай болоналдагдалтай байхаас үл хамааран  улс төрийн маневрын давуу тал олох гэж хийдгийг дэмждэггүй. Хэдийгээр мэдэхгүй ч Монголд асар их боломж байгаа гэдгийг мэдрэхээс гадна мэдэхМонголын талаар нэмж сурах оролдлогыг сонирхолтой болгодог. Хэрвээ зөвхөн  … гэх хандлага орчин үеийн Монголд маш олон байдлаар таарах юм шиг. Ялангуяа улс төрийн хувьд нэн таарна.

Улс төрийн намын чиг хандлагаас хамаарахгүйгээр эрх мэдлийг улс төрийн ашиг сонирхлын хувьд урвуулах ашиглах явдал нь засаглаж байгаа намд, засгийн газрын гишүүдийн дунд тохиолдох нь илүү байдаг. Тиймээс ч би сөрөг хүчнээс илүүтэйгээр эрх барьж буй засгийн болон засгийн бодлогоос өө харах нь илүү байдаг.

Товчхондоо …

Би улс төрийн хувьд төвийг сахин улс төрд нөлөөлөхгүйгээр шинжилгээ дүгнэлт хийхэд төвлөрөнө.

Төгсгөлд нь хэлэх

Нэг зүйлийг тодотгох үүднээс өөрийн мэргэжлийн хараат бус байдлын талаарх хэд хэдэн хэсгүүдийг товчлон орууллаа . Тэр нь  орчин үеийн Монголын талаар би судалгаа  хийхдээ хэнээс ч тушаал захиалга авдаггүй болно. Намайг ямар нэгэн өрөөсгөлд автсан гэж үзэх хэн ч байсан ( пост-колониал, евроцэнтрик, улс төрийн, бизнесийн, үндэстний гм) дээрх нийтлэлийг маань нягтлан үзэж мөн судалгааны ажлуудыг маань шинжлэхийг урьж байна. Миний хараат бус байдлын талаархи дээрхи тайлбар хэрэг болохуйц байвал шүүмжээ эхлэхдээ суурь итгэлцэл дээр хандана гэж найдаж байна.

Жулиан Диэркэс

2016 оны тавдугаар сар

Posted in Research on Mongolia | Tagged | 3 Comments

Institutionalized Role for State in Emerging Resource Economies

By Julian Dierkes

The workshop on “The State’s Role in Large Resource Projects” CIRDI recently co-organized with the International Cooperation Fund of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was designed as an opportunity for Mongolians to share their experience in mining governance with international delegates (from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos and Myanmar), but also to spur discussions among Mongolians about the political and organizational decision that have been made on the state’s involvement in mining projects through State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

One aspect of the workshop that definitely worked was to expose the different approaches that countries are taking to the resource sector. In sociological parlance, these approaches seem to be highly institutionalized, meaning that they are governed by a set of taken-for-granted, implicit rules that show up as a striking uniformity across a population even when not explicitly mandated by laws or regulations.

Put very simply, these five resource economies take fairly different approaches to the state’s involvement in the resource sector. The contrast is particularly stark between Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Myanmar, while the Laotian resource economy seems to be mostly small scale and a bit of a mix of different governance models, and Afghanistan’s resource sector is still emerging from decades of civil war.

Patterns in the State’s Participation in the Mining Sector

For the three somewhat more developed resource countries, the pattern appears to be the following:

  • In Kyrgyzstan, direct state participation (investment and operation) in the resource sector is a given. Whether or not this is best understood in a post-Soviet political economy or rooted in other factors, Kyrgyz delegates were very clear that SOEs are the dominant model, but that these SOEs are also comprehensive enterprises in the style of a state socialist Комбинат (note that even Wikipedia acknowledges Erdenet’s status as an all-encompassing company-cum-town-cum-conception-of-modernization). Кыргызалтын‘s holdings thus include a health resort and a transport company. Governance issues have been a source of friction with Canadian miner Centerra Gold (also active in Mongolia, of course), around the Kumtor mine.
  • In Mongolia, Erdenet is the example of a state-operated and fully-integrated-into-policy project, while the model in the past decade has become to have minority stakes in resource projects. This taken-for-granted position has been enshrined in law through the designation as “strategic assets” that automatically trigger a state equity stake, but it has also been institutionalized in political discourse where only private sector representatives (foreign and domestic) seem to question it. The on-going turmoil around the co-ownership with Rio Tinto (via Turquoise Hill) of Oyu Tolgoi illustrates some of the governance challenges this poses, though Erdenes Mongol (the state holding company for assets other than Erdenet) is eagerly “normalizing” its position as a corporation, rather than a specific form of an SOE.
  • A foreign caricature of the Burmese resource sector would refer to (military) crony capitalism, Chinese investments, and a giant oil sector. But, the highly institutionalized form of government investment in the resource sector in Myanmar are production sharing agreements (PSAs). As a tool, these are very common around the world (including in Mongolia’s Dornod oil fields) in petroleum production, but not very common at all internationally in mining. PSAs are, very clearly, highly institutionalized in Myanmar.

Learning from Comparisons

The most fruitful discussion (in my mind) around these institutionalized alternatives for public participation in mining investments came around the Kyrgyz-Mongolian comparison. Clearly, The Kyrgyz and (Russian-speaking) Mongolians were very comfortable speaking to each other right from the beginning. A shared cultural history and legacy of nomadism and state socialism as well as a sense of common challenges reinforced this initial comfort through discussions. As one of the Kyrgyz delegates noted very memorably, “95% of the questions that you’re asking (in Mongolia), are the same questions in Kyrgyzstan”.

Yet, as the discussion showed, some of the answers are remarkably different. Mendee has been telling me for some time now that Erdenet is much more important to understanding contemporary mining governance, but also contemporary politics than is generally appreciated. As I mentioned above, Kyrgyz participation of the state in the resource sector follows a similar pattern to Erdenet. Yet, despite Erdenet’s apparent successes (long-lasting production, the creation of a mining city that has grown into a viable and livable (perhaps distant) alternative to Ulaanbaatar), this is not the pattern that Mongolia has followed over the past 20 years. In part, the alternative pattern grew out of the destitute mid-1990s when state investment was simply not a (financial option) and the door was flung wide open to foreign investment. By the time more serious governance questions arose in the negotiations over an OT investment agreement, perhaps notions of free markets had been ingrained enough that the pendulum only swung back to a financial minority investment, namely the current structure of stakes in “strategic deposits”. I don’t know enough about post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan to guess at the political economy of projects there with independence and its aftermath, but the paths between Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia have clearly diverged.

Best Practices?

As is often the case with highly institutionalized models, aspects of these models “make a lot of sense”, but when we step back for a broader/deeper analysis, it is not clear that there is much to recommend one model over the other. Clearly (and as emphasized by Matt Genasci in the workshop) different ways to participate in the resource sector offer different opportunities but also come with different risks and costs. While all forms of ownership can be mimicked by taxes and other regulations, ultimately, decisions about different governance models are made within the context of specific political economies. No well-meaning and unfathomably comprehensive (big data and AI, I’m looking at you) analysis can make the final decision on what model might fit a country best, so that institutionalized responses to the question “how does the nation benefit from resource endowments?” differ across different national contexts.

It certainly seemed that the workshop provided a meaningful opportunity for dialogue between international delegates and Mongolians, but also among the Mongolians that perhaps pointed to some of the consequences of choosing particular models and thus strengthens resource governance in a small way to lead to better decisions that lead to more equitable distribution and thus alleviation of poverty through the development of natural resources.

Posted in Afghanistan, Canada, CIRDI, International Cooperation Fund, Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, Mining Governance, Mongolia and ..., Myanmar | Tagged | Leave a comment

New to Ulaanbaatar in May 2016

By Julian Dierkes

I’ve been keeping a list of things that are arriving to/disappearing from central Ulaanbaatar: December 2015 |  May 2015May 2014October 2013.

I’ve copied the 2014 and 2015 lists here and am adding to it. New items since previous posts appear in italics.

What has arrived?

  • sadly, Louis Vuitton, KFC, Burberry Kids and Ugg
  • Mini, Bentley
  • child seats
  • sidewalks
  • parks
  • farmers’ markets
  • yoga
  • dogs on leashes
  • Sunday morning joggers and bikers
  • burgeoning coffee culture
  • river walkway along the Dund River (under construction in May 2015 but looking very promising)
  • city park along the Tuul
  • sports cars
  • organic shopping
  • gated communities (virtually all the new developments towards and in Zaisan)
  • wheelchair accessibility (moved from “What Will Appear” category as ministries are now (meant to be) wheelchair-accessible

Wheelchair accessibility arrives in #Mongolia. Note the ramp to the side entrance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A photo posted by Julian Dierkes (@jbdierkes) on

What has disappeared, or at least nearly?

  • stationary 80s-office-phone-looking old-granny cell phone booth
  • for-pay scales (actually, they seem to be hanging on)
  • free WiFi on Sukhbaatar, er Chinggis Khaan, er, Sukhbaatar Square
  • Sukhbaatar Square, er, Chinggis Khaan Square
  • open gullys/missing manholes
  • street kids
  • packs of dogs
  • smoking
  • the sixth-floor souvenir shop at the State Department Store (though perhaps seasonal)
  • oversized sunglasses for women that were so popular across Asia (?) some years ago
  • Nescafé (see above on coffee culture)
  • surprise at seeing bicycles
  • hillside Chinggis visible from the city centre

What will appear in the future

  • navigation systems
  • bike lanes
  • new airport (apparently)
  • subway (really, I wish they had selected light rail instead)
  • Harley-Davidson
  • urban renewal and historical restorations embracing district north of government house (National University of Mongolia, German embassy, etc.)
  • road signs in the countryside (and not just the very random, very occasional ones that can be found now)
  • street names and signs in the city
  • network of cross-country riding trails (though not in central Ulaanbaatar)
  • parking (meters)
  • Combined Heat and Power Plant #5 (yeah, right!)
  • hipsters discovering УАЗ (minivan and jeep)
  • Canada Goose, Arc’teryx.

What will disappear in the near future

I’m going out on a predictive limb here… 2-3 years is what I mean by “near future”.

  • stray dogs
  • stretched-out hand to signal for a car ride
  • that awkward extra half-step on most stairs
  • whitening make-up.

What will disappear in the medium-term future

I mean around 7 years or so.

  • new (to Mongolia) cars that are right-hand drive
  • the neo-classical Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, with its Stalinist (if that’s an architectural style) spire

Tough call to make as the MFA building is now dwarfed by its own annex.

  • deels in the city
  • some of the downtown university campuses
  • buildings of 4 floors or less in the urban core
  • Russian minivans (УАЗ452) but see above.
Posted in Curios, Social Change, Ulaanbaatar | Tagged | Leave a comment

ICF Workshop “State’s Role in Large Resource Projects”

Co-organized and co-hosted by

International Cooperation Fund
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Mongolia

Canadian International Resources and Development Institute

May 16, 2016, Monday

“State Participation in Mining: Global Trends and Perspectives” Matthew Genasci, Mining Policy Group LLC

Panel One: Political and Executive Perspectives

H.E. R. Amarjargal, Member of Parliament, State Great Hural of Mongolia

H.E. S. Oyun, Member of Parliament, State Great Hural of Mongolia

Panel Two: Perspectives of the Executives and Operators

Ch. Otgochuluu, Chief Economist, Erdenes Mongol LLC

D. Galbaatar, Deputy Director, Erdenet Mining Corporation

M. Otgonbayar, CEO, Baganuur JSC

M. Bayanmunkh, Director, Strategic Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of                                                     Mining

Panel Three: Participating Countries’ Presentations

Masouma Zargar, Senior Policy and Program Adviser,
Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Boobekov Kudaimende, Head of Subsoil Protection and Mining Industry Office of State Agency of Geology and Mineral Resource, the Kyrgyz Republic

Abdrakhmanov Sagynbek, Vice President, Kyrgyzaltyn JSC

Vongthong Thimahaxay, Assistant Director of Mines Safety, Health and Environment Division, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Kyaw Zin Oo, Assistant General Manager, No. 1 Mining Enterprise, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Zarni Myint Maung, Metallurgical Assistant, No. 2 Mining Enterprise, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

May 17, 2016, Tuesday

 “State Participation in Mining: Economics and Alternatives” Matthew Genasci, Mining Policy Group LLC

Panel Four: Perspectives of Private Industry

N. Algaa, President of Mongolian National Mining Associations

G. Battsengel, CEO, Energy Resources LLC

Dr. D. Bat-Erdene, Board Member, Mongolian Society of Economic Geologists

M. Tulgat, Khishig Arvin LLC

“Findings of the Corporate Governance Study on the Mongolian SOEs” D. Bailikhuu, Advisor to Prime Minister on Privatization and Restructuring

Panel Five: Perspectives of Civil Society

N. Dorjdari, Mongolia Country Coordinator, NGRI

D. Erdenechimeg, Manager for Governance Program, Open Society Forum

B. Tuvshintugs, Director, Economic Research Institute, National University of Mongolia

Dr. M. Dagva, General Director, QMC LLC

Posted in Canada, CIRDI, Erdenet, Governance, International Cooperation Fund, Mining, Mining, Mining Governance | Leave a comment

Information about CIRDI’s Mongolia Project

By Julian Dierkes

iPolitics’ James Munson recently published an article that is critical of the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) in a number of important aspects: project selection, information about projects, and broader issues about Canadian development assistance, and links with economic interests.

Given my involvement in CIRDI’s IMAGinE Mongolia activities, I tried to offer some comments on these criticisms on the iPolitics website, but was rebuffed by commenting technology, so I reproduce these here:

Munson raises several important and interesting questions in this article, questions that come up repeatedly in conversations among academics such as myself, and staff who are involved in CIRDI programs.

In my case, I am involved in the Integrated Management and Governance in Extractives (IMAGinE) Mongolia project. Note that Mongolia is a country of focus for Global Affairs development assistance.

Our activities were approved as a CIRDI project late last year. After we had submitted a proposal for these activities, the proposal was reviewed (following CIRDI’s selection guidelines) and we received a lot of feedback on our proposal that looked very similar to the kind of feedback I would expect to receive on an academic paper, for example, anonymous reviewers who questioned various aspects of our proposal, from assumptions to methodology, and feasibility, etc., but also ultimately recommended approval.

While our Mongolia activities are still ramping up (I’m writing this comment from Ulaanbaatar in fact) our project team is eager to share information and lessons from our project, and to share these with beneficiaries in Mongolia and beyond, as well as with the Canadian public and academic colleagues. We want to communicate about the impact of our project activities in the same way that we’re eager to share and disseminate the results of our research as academics.

As I have long collaborated with graduate students in maintaining a blog focused on contemporary Mongolia, Mongolia Focus, we are adding some of our observations about our CIRDI activities to this blog as well, to complement the information that is provided on the CIRDI webpage. Note that we’re intent on “thinking out loud” in these posts (as is appropriate to a blog, I think), not to provide definitive answers or conclusions. As we are expanding our IMAGinE activities, we are continuously looking for indicators of the impact that these activities are having. We will also continue to share aspects of this impact measurement in blog posts as this is an area of direct interest overlap between academic research and development interventions.

I believe that the involvement of several Mongolian graduate students strengthens our project significantly in terms of an appreciation for the Mongolian context we’re operating in, but also in terms of conducting activities that meet requests by and needs of Mongolians. Of course, we have also solicited input from Mongolians more broadly on the specifics of our activities through needs assessments. Mongolians are able to make their own decisions about resource-led and other economic and social development, and we aim to provide them with more and better information to analyze the choices that they have in making policy. Ultimately, in a democracy like Mongolia, better information will allow citizens and policy-makers to make more robust decisions which will allow them to address poverty and inequality through development that they deem appropriate and want.

Beyond the immediate aims and activities of CIRDI and my involvement in these, Munson and some of the critics he includes in his article raise questions that are important to ask about Canadian development assistance more broadly. I find the lack of access that Canadians have to information about publicly-funded development projects surprising, to say the least. Yes, broad outlines of projects can be found, but information about specific activities is generally not made available by development organizations. Maybe Canada’s leadership in the International Aid Transparency Initiative will bring some change in this regard.

Global Affairs’ reporting requirements could do with significantly less bureaucracy and be reconfigured toward greater openness about process and impact that would be of interest to at least some Canadians, I think. More open policy-making is something that the Liberal government aspires to, and it seems to me that development assistance is an area where that openness could improve policy-making significantly, including by deepening the conversation about criteria for selection of target countries or target sectors as well as a discussion of specifically Canadian contributions to global poverty alleviation and, now, the Sustainable Development Goals.

iPolitics reported that a development policy review is imminent, so I hope that many of these discussions will be raised in that context. I certainly am eager to contribute to such discussion.

Posted in CIRDI, Development | Tagged | Leave a comment