‘Parliament will demand responsibility from ministers’

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- Fall session opens -

      The regular fall session of Parliament opened on October 1, with 74.3 percent turnout. Speaker of Parliament G.Zandanshatar introduced the priorities of this fall session, while raising issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery policies, governance activism, implementation of constitutional amendments, and education reform.

In his speech, the speaker emphasized that the Parliament’s priority is to overcome the risk of the pandemic and address its challenges. Compared to the end of 2020, the prices of consumer goods and services increased by 8.9 percent nationwide and by 10 percent in Ulaanbaatar as of August 2021. Noting that the growing inflation severely impacts people’s livelihoods, G.Zandanshatar said that this session would determine the policy of economic recovery of Mongolia.

The speaker continued, “Although the economic recovery has resulted from the government of Mongolia’s 10 trillion MNT comprehensive plan, GDP per capita has not reached the pre-pandemic level of 2019. Mongolia’s foreign debt has reached 32.4 billion USD while 90 percent of total exports and 73 percent of foreign direct investment remain dependent on the mining sector alone. Therefore, it is necessary to bring the economy back to normal and implement policy reforms to resolve the distorted economic system of the last 30 years.”

Speaker G.Zandanshatar cautioned that Parliament will demand responsibility from ministers and hold them accountable. Ministers need to identify the risks and challenges in their respective sectors, address them promptly, and take decisive action without delay, he added.

He also stressed the need to revive domestic production, create jobs and reduce poverty through the economic reform. The governance reform has many goals, including building a government that serves its citizens, making e-transition, building the capacity of the civil service, using big data as a policy and decision-making tool, and promoting innovative products and services, the speaker mentioned.

The Law on Parliamentary Supervision and Law on State Inspection, both of which will be approved during this fall session, will play an important role in establishing the rule of law, monitoring the implementation of the law and combating human rights violations, he added.

According to G.Zandanshatar, the Law on Infringements will be revised and the Law on Investigation of Regulatory Infringment will be amended in order to improve the legal basis of the judiciary and implement the amended Constitution.

The fall session will discuss a package of bills on education to implement the concept of education reform.

“Parliament aims to discuss bills that can provide world-class education for our children and youth, discover their talents, and educate new generations of Mongolians to keep pace with the world. This will take a long time,” the speaker stated.

The package includes six bills on preschool education, general education, higher education, legal status of research universities, humanities education, and vocational education and training.

Speaker G.Zandanshatar emphasized that these issues mentioned above are interrelated and are key drivers for a rapid national development.

In accordance with the Resolution on the Agenda of Autumn Session, approved by Parliament on July 8, a total of 72 bills will be discussed during the new session.

Heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar city officials virtually attended the opening of the new parliamentary session.

During the opening of the fall session, the Democratic Party (DP) caucus in Parliament protested, holding placards that read: “Everyone in Mongolia owes 30 million MNT,” “Increase salaries of medical staff,” “Cut unnecessary spending” and “No government money, only taxpayers’ money”.

Protesters placed various goods and fuels outside the hall, as an expression of the high price inflation between 2020 and 2021.

     The DP caucus stated, “Mongolia’s total external debt has reached about 8.2 billion USD. This means that every citizen has a debt of 30 million MNT. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 infection was 1,222 as of October 1. However, the authorities spent a total of 11.4 trillion MNT as part of measures against the pandemic. If the authorities had made the right decisions and implemented them consistently, so many people would not have lost their lives and their families would not have suffered.”

On the same day, the party held a protest named “Odoo Bolloo” (It’s Enough) at Sukhbaatar Square. They protested against the inefficient spending during the 2020 and 2021 elections, which they claim has “plunged the economy into crisis” and led to the “poor management of COVID-19 pandemic”.

Misheel Lkhasuren