‘Some lawmakers’ budget for their constituencies have been raised’

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On Thursday, Parliament reviewed bills on the budget framework for 2023, budget assumptions for 2024 to 2025 and the draft parliamentary resolution on the approval of Mongolia’s Development Plan for 2023.

During the parliamentary plenary session, Minister of Finance B.Javkhlan reported that as of the first quarter of 2022, the total industrial output decreased by 24.4 percent compared to the same period of last year. The decrease was mainly due to a 72.6 percent decrease in coal production and a 95.3 percent decline in oil production.

As of February 2022, the balance of payments showed a deficit of 571 million USD. In March 2022, inflation rose to 14.4 percent. The annual inflation rate is expected to slow in the second half of 2022, but projected to surpass Mongol Bank’s target by the end of the year, reported the minister.

He highlighted that Mongolia’s economic growth is expected to increase by 5 percent in 2023 and 5.1 percent in 2024, reaching a long-term growth rate of about 6 percent by 2025, before saying that on average, the foreign trade balance is projected to show a surplus of 0.9 billion USD from 2023 to 2025. Moreover, the inflation rate is expected to stabilize at around 6 percent within an interval of plus or minus 2 percent from 2023 to 2025.

Minister B.Javkhlan informed that based on proposals of state and local government organizations, the government included 18 targets and 75 measures with total funding of 15.1 trillion MNT in the draft resolution on the development plan in line with Mongolia’s Public Investment Program for 2021 through 2025.

These measures are planned to be financed with 1.8 trillion MNT from the state budget, 1.6 trillion MNT from foreign loans and grants, 6.3 trillion MNT from foreign and domestic investment, 4.1 trillion MNT from public-private partnerships, and 951.4 billion MNT from other sources.

During the session, parliamentarian M.Oyunchimeg commented, “From 2023, the external debt burden will increase. Citizens’ purchasing power is very low. They say that the pressure of inflation is having a real impact on their lives.”

Member of Parliament B.Enkhbayar criticized, “There is a grand scheme related to the state budget and theft in Parliament. The budget submitted by the government is altered by the Standing Committee on Budget. Lawmakers have become heavily dependent on the Standing Committee on Budget because it decides the ‘fate’ of members and whether he or she will be re-elected. Therefore, committee members discriminate against other lawmakers and increase or decrease their budget.”

“I have been talking about building a school in 26th khoroo of Bayanzurkh District, the largest khoroo with 30,000 people, since I was elected to Parliament. Five billion MNT was reflected in this year’s state budget for this work. However, as part of the austerity policy, the allocated budget was reduced by 1.4 billion MNT. I thought this policy would lower all members’ budget for their constituencies, but some lawmakers’ budgets have been raised. In accordance with the budget amendment, Uvs Province’s budget was increased. In Bayanzurkh District, a project called ‘New Countryside’ was added. This was decided by several members of the Standing Committee on Budget,” he said.

Chairman of the standing committee Ch.Khurelbaatar pointed out, “Everything is decided in accordance with the law. Budgets are not decided by standing committee members alone. You may not like me. But don’t ‘spit’ on Parliament. If the New Countryside Project is going to be implemented in Bayanzurkh District, someone must have suggested it.”

Noting that US stock prices are falling daily, legislator G.Amartuvshin expressed, “This is because stock prices of the chain stores where Americans buy their daily goods have fallen sharply. This is due to the fact that the profits of these companies have fallen by 25 to 30 percent more than expected due to rising vehicle costs and rising prices. This big market is collapsing. I think it will have a big impact on us. The forecast that inflation will fall to 8 percent in 2023, 6 percent in 2024 and 2025 is false. With inflation at 14.4 percent today, how can it be lowered to 8 percent next year? Current global price increases will continue for a long time.”

Misheel Lkhasuren