Guest Post: An “Alternate Economy” Run by Chieftains

By B Naidalaa

This article was originally published on on Nov 7 2018 as “Монгол дахь УЛСТӨРИЙН корпорацийн АЖИЛЧДАД ХЭЛЭХ ҮГ

The term “informal economy” or “shadow economy” applies to a segment of the economy  that is not registered, regulated, monitored, nor taxed, and yet manufactures, offers trade and services, and earns and spends income. It may also refer to the underground economy of robbery, corruption, illegal trades, and organized crime.

Alternatively, in Mongolia, a different type of economy led by parasite chieftains has formed, suppressing economic growth and social development. An “economy” so self-sustainable and circular, to the point that it extracts finances from the state budget and in turn has the political rights to spend the state budget. They approve laws and develop programs with the best possible humanitarian names, such as developing SMEs, supporting agriculture, innovation, for herders, locals, protecting animal husbandry, and promoting disabled people, which sound as if they’ll indisputably serve the citizens. Billions are allocated for these laws and programs in the state budget. Not only state funds, but tenders, concessional loans, bond loans, and whatever other ways to extract money from the state budget is an option for financing. This is not an underground economy; these processes are being registered, and their loans, budgets, taxes, and reports all seem like they’re running smoothly, legally, all according to the policy and regulations. Unfortunately, those funds will be distributed as loans, tenders, and grants in all stages only benefitting a few number of chieftains, ministers and political groups, without a penny going to the real owners or citizens. The allocation is done by chieftains of political groups unofficially. While the Mongolian economy belongs to 3.2 million people, this economy revolves around 10,000 (?) people, eliminating any opportunities for others to run their own business and innovate, devouring the majority of the country’s net profit and revenue.

These parasite members of the economy gain advantages by borrowing billions in interest free loans through backdoor deals, and then build their “SMEs” easily, or even just put it in their bank savings account, establish a non-banking financial institution and launder money with high interest rates, and/or earn unrealistically high profit within a short amount. Meanwhile, real business owners will borrow those high interest loans for their business to barely survive.

As for the “tax” and dividends, the “business owner” has no choice but to compensate these to the group which enabled the owner to get the multi-billion interest free loan. This is the real reason behind the instant expansion of some businesses, sudden construction of extravagant buildings, money laundering through real estate rents, immediate gain of wealth, and the reason land prices goes through the roof. The profit is then used to finance politics, donate to their own political party, buy off media and followers, and create an army of commenters brainwashing for their side. Whoever has the most followers, collects the most bag-holders (workers), pays them, and feeds them, are political businessmen, corporate owners, and has the most power. Gradually, one fraction of the political party or the whole party will be privatized and a private party will be formed. This is the reason why whoever can carelessly spend money in elections, why people own private television channels, and put a stop to media using a non-disclosure agreement. This is also the reason why the “political party”, despite its name, has turned into a political corporation.

Certain units such as party branch committee who work with low salaries to do the dirty work exist to fraud voters, press on their soft spot and oppress them, and distribute cash. During the election, part-time job seekers of the “we can do it” club, who allegedly distribute money and influence certain voting within certain groups, also surround the candidates. This is how political part-time jobs make up quite a bit of the labor market and income share within the Mongolian economy, and how political businessmen and corporation owners have become bosses and benefactors.

These workers do not in their conscious minds realize that they’re supporting this political network, distributing money, brainwashing the public, oppressing them, and going so low as to back-scratch these politicians, at the expense of their children’s future and their chance for a better life, all just for a small amount of money. Even ordinary citizens in both the city and rural areas have polarized political views, dividing and arguing with their brothers and friends on behalf of the parasite chieftains that they’ve declared superior. They do so in hopes that after the election, they’ll get their fair share, a crumb of the giant cake, that is the money to be extracted from the state budget. Many young people, in the name of doing politics, are “hired” in this political corporation. They show their loyalty to their master, become a cell, a tissue in the well-being of this parasite economy while unaware that they’re destroying their own future. Political corporation owners’ income and playing ground expands as individuals and businesses become poorer, their lives and businesses more challenging and burdensome. Hence, it’s in the chieftains’ best interest to evoke political instability, counteract new force and healthy thoughts, instigating the public against foreign and domestic investment, local, fair businessmen and wealth creators, and creating confusion and disorientation. Foreign interests interfere as well.

Thus, a country has formed inside a country, an alternative parasite economy within an economy. This economy benefits no ordinary citizen or business, rather revolves around the “chieftains”, their followers, and the election team which will distribute money for them. In other words, an economy for chieftains. Because this economy sucks the most from newly created wealth and state budget, no money is then available to increase teachers’ and doctors’ salaries, to build kindergartens and elementary schools, or to lend the real business owners. This is the reason jobs are not available, loan interests do not decrease, currency is unstable, businesses grow only too little no matter how hard one tries, and life does not improve.

Mongolia, and every Mongolian is being robbed of their opportunity to build, make, work, and create their future because they are seized by this parasite system and unknowingly serve it. Real change will happen not only by dethroning a few ministers and parliament members, but by eradicating this political financing structure which feeds on the state budget and ridding the state of relevant politicians. This will only be easily achievable when Mongolian people stop opposing each other politically and rather, oppose these insatiable chieftains.

About Naidalaa

Naidalaa was born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (1975). He holds a BA in Business Economics from the University of Finance and Economics of Mongolia and a MSc in Economics from the University of Kobe, Japan. Naidalaa mainly worked in banking and business industries, and lead the non-governmental institutions: Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA) and Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF). In his early career, he also lectured economics at the University of Finance and Economics (UFE) of Mongolia. Areas of his interests include national development strategy, nation building, economics, sustainable development, green finance and investment.

He is also a party leader and one of founding members of the National Labor Party of Mongolia.

About Julian Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a sociologist by training (PhD Princeton Univ) and a Mongolist by choice and passion since around 2005. He teaches in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He toots and tweets @jdierkes
This entry was posted in Badrakh Naidalaa, Business, Corruption, Diversification, Policy, Politics, Public Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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