A Panel Presentation
FAQ Mongolia: Some Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions on (Mining) Policy
How to Improve Governance in Mongolia?
Hon. Jim Abbott PC
The “Mongolian Vision”
Developing countries must work through two challenges. Their civil service capacity and expertise must be strengthened to address budgetary and financial oversight demands that come from their expanded economies.
Concurrently, accountability of parliamentarians, and their financial and regulatory roles must be reflected in their nation’s parliamentary processes.
The bad news: Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Index ranked Mongolia as 120th in the world. The good news: Mongolian bureaucrats and politicians have been working with Canadians on these challenges for more than two years and we’ve responded at the highest level.
Prime Minister Harper and Mongolian Prime Minister Batbold witnessed the signing of an MOU September 2010 in Ottawa. The Canadian Standing Committee On Foreign Affairs held hearings and issued a unanimous report in support of the Prime Minister’s initiative.
The Civil Service Council of Mongolia (CSC) and the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) have laid down a basis of cooperation between public service institutions of the two countries. Detailed work began in Mongolia in January this year.
The PSC developed a draft project document and work plan that included strengthening good governance practices in Mongolia. The PSC introduced Canada’s experience in developing merit-based, non-partisan public service.
Prime Minister Batbold wrote, “The Government of Mongolia is fully committed to this cooperation which would play an important role in strengthening democracy and promoting public service reforms in Mongolia.”
Also, Mongolian President Elbegdorj accepted a Canadian invitation for his staff to work on the project in separate sessions in both countries.
That’s noteworthy because there is structural tension in the Mongolian governance model. The tension is compounded with the Prime Minister and President leading competing political parties.
There have been continuous joined working sessions between Mongolians and Canadians in Ulaanbaatar and Ottawa involving the most senior bureaucrats in the PSC and CSC.
Mongolians have observed our Canadian model “on the ground” in order to help implement civil service reform in Mongolia.
Today, most of the bureaucratic work has been completed and the necessary Mongolian legislation is well advanced. The next action will be passage of the legislation through the Mongolian parliament.
Mongolians comprehend this reality as witnessed by the composition of their delegation to Canada in May. They had both the political and bureaucratic sides of their government represented. I engaged an advisor to the Mongolian PM and a Mongolian MP. They understand the entire excellent product expertly created could simply languish.
In 2010, the Secretary General of the Parliament of Mongolia officially requested the assistance of the Canadian Parliamentary Centre in Ottawa to conduct training for newly elected parliamentarians. They also want to strengthen the capacity of professional staff to assist parliamentarians.
The Parliamentary Centre is a Canadian non-partisan, non-government organization that has more than 43 years of experience in strengthening parliaments worldwide. It has worked in more than 45 legislatures with the support of a variety of funders and is recognized globally as a leader in its field.
The Centre helps parliaments to build and strengthen the capacity to pass laws focused on the improvement of government accountability, transparency and fight with corruption as well in building the capacity to oversee the way governments are using public funds. This includes revenues from extractive industries.
By happy coincidence, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified Mongolia and Vietnam as their countries of focus for their efforts to sign up private sector corporations to their Partnership Against Corruption initiative (PACI). I recommend that you review the WEF initiative on their website.
Canadian businesses are serious about developing mineral and other assets in a responsible manner. They are looking for the Mongolian government to operate with a clear process and a level playing field.
In spite of all this good news let’s be clear. Public Service reform will not necessarily be an easy project.
Notwithstanding the official good will, where corruption may be endemic and seriously entrenched into some levels of the Public Service, there will be significant push back to upgrading and professionalizing the service.
Momentum will continue with the following initiatives:
- Incremental improvements in legislation – Mongolians cannot go from where they are to a western style apolitical professional public service in a single bound.
- Implementation of the legislation – There will need to be trainers and other people in place to implement the transition.
- Creation of an independent Mongolian assessment body to report on progress.
- Appropriate parliamentary oversight needs to be in place.
Companies in this room can play an important part. To secure funding from Canadian funding agencies the Canadian Parliamentary Centre is researching and developing a detailed proposal for further action.
Because the Parliamentary Centre is a non-partisan, non-government organization, we will are looking for partners to assist with the initial research that will accurately identify the most expeditious steps forward.
I thank you for your attention. We are here today because we share the Mongolian vision.
1:33’08’ – 1:46’08”
About the Honourable Jim Abbott, P.C., Member of Parliament, Canada (Retired)
Initially elected to the House of Commons in 1993, Jim Abbott retired from the Canadian Parliament May 2, 2011. Mr. Abbott was the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of International Cooperation.
October 15, 2007 Mr. Abbott was called by The Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper to serve on the Privy Council to her Majesty the Queen.
MP Abbott is fully engaged with the political realities of the “Mongolian Vision”.
Mr. Abbott sat on the Foreign Affairs and International Development Standing Committee, and the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.