A Renewed Khurelsukh Cabinet

By Byambajav Dalaibuyan

Under the recent constitutional amendments, the Prime Minister has the power to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers. Previously, the parliament had lengthy sessions to discuss candidates proposed by the Prime Minister one by one and voted on their appointment.

The Government of Mongolia will have 14 ministries. In accordance with MPP’s election platform, the Ministry of Culture was newly established. The main priorities will likely be the construction of a number of new museums such as Chinggis Khaan museum, protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and promoting Mongolian arts and culture abroad.

The widely anticipated Ministry of Development Planning was not included in the new government structure. The MPP seems to have a lack of clear roadmap for establishing the ministry and may have considered possible overlaps between old ministries and new one.  The Ministry of Finance and the National Development Agency will retain their roles in national development planning.

Khurelsukh’s cabinet will have the following 16 ministers:

Deputy Prime Minister Yangug SODBAATAR (Янгугийн Содбаатар) is former MP (2012-2020) and Minister of Road and Transport Development. Sodbaatar was allegedly involved in the SME Fund scandal in 2018 and has been under pressure from civil society and the media. He did not compete in the 2020 elections, opting to manage party’s election campaign.

Head of the Cabinet Secretariat of Government Luvsannamsrai OYUN-ERDENE (Лувсаннамсрайн Оюун-Эрдэнэ) will remain as a key figure in the cabinet.

Former Minister of Health Davaajantsan SARANGEREL (Даваажанцангийн Сарангэрэл) will lead the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. She has received praise for her handling of Covid-19 crisis in the country, which greatly contributed to MPP’s election win.

Minister of Defense Gursed SAIKHANBAYAR (Гүрсэдийн Сайханбаяр) has had a long career in the Mongolian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense and studied in military academies in Mongolia, China and Russia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nyamtseren ENKHTAIVAN (Нямцэрэнгийн Энхтайван) was Head of Office of MPP’s parliamentary group in 2016-2020 and had executive and advisory roles at the ministry and Mongolian Embassy in China. He studied in China, New Zealand and USA.

Chimed KHURELBAATAR (Чимэдийн Хүрэлбаатар) will remain as Minister of Finance.

Khishgee NYAMBAATAR (Хишгээгийн Нямбаатар) will serve as Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs, replacing Ts.Nyamdorj, one of MPP’s influential figure, who could not win a seat in parliament.

Minister of Labour and Social Protection Ayush ARIUNZAYA (Аюушийн Ариунзаяа) led the National Statistical Office of Mongolia in 2016-2020. She is a granddaughter of former PM P.Jasrai (1992-1996).

Begjav MUNKHBAATAR (Бэгжавын Мөнхбаатар) was promoted from Deputy Minister to Minister of Construction and Urban Development. He served as a Board Member of Oyu Tolgoi LLC in 2016-2018 and CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi SOE.

Minister of Education and Science Lhagva TSEDEVSUREN (Лхагвын Цэдэвсүрэн) has been a senior public official responsible for public administration and legal affairs at the ministry since the 1990s.

Luvsan KHALTAR (Лувсангийн Халтар) was promoted from Deputy Minister to Minister of Road and Transport Development. He has a long career in the railway sector. His main priority will likely be the construction of Tavantolgoi-Zuunbayan and Tavantolgoi-Gashuunsukhait railways.

Sampildondov CHULUUN (Сампилдондовын Чулуун), a historian and the Head of Institute of History within the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, will lead the newly established Ministry of Culture.

Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Geleg YONDON (Гэлэнгийн Ёндон) is a mining engineer with over 30 years of professional experience, mostly at Mongolrostsetmet, state owned mining company.

Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Zagdjav MENDSAIKHAN (Загджавын Мэндсайхан) is also quite unfamiliar to many people. His CV shows that he run several companies until he became Head of Department at the Ministry of Finance in 2015. Mendsaikhan served as State Secretary of Ministry of Energy in 2016-2019.

Minister of Energy Nansal TAVINBEKH (Нансалын Тавинбэх) is an electrical engineer and has had managing positions at Baganuur South-Eastern Region Electricity Distribution Network.

Minister of Health Togtmol MUNKHSAIKHAN (Тогтмолын Мөнхсайхан) is the youngest (37) among ministers and was the Director of State First Clinic.

Like the composition of MPP’s candidates for the parliamentary elections, a number of new, young people were included in the new cabinet. The only remaining ministers from Khurelsukh’s previous cabinet are L.Oyun-Erdene, Ch.Khurelbaatar and D.Sarangerel.

8 of 16 ministers are people aged between 37 and 46. Minister of Health T.Munkhsaikhan is the youngest (37) and D.Sarangerel, now Minister of Environment and Tourism, is the oldest (57).

The MPP seems to have taken careful consideration about professional competence and experience of new ministers, which has been a major problem in previous governments. However, questions will remain over the capacity of ministers to act independently and in transparent manner.

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