ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. SUKHBAATAR BATBOLD
Prime Minister of Mongolia at the session of the State Great Hural
State Palace, 29 October 2009
Excellency Mr. President,
Excellency Mr. Chairman of the State Great Khural,
Esteemed Members of the State Great Khural,
At the outset let me express my deep gratitude to the members of the State Great Khural and the parliamentary group of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and that of the Democratic Party for the confidence they have placed in me by appointing me as the Prime Minister of Mongolia.
I am taking over this highly responsible and fairly difficult duty for the Mongolian Government from you, Sanjaagyn Bayar, the Prime Minister of Mongolia. Although I do feel proud, I know the criteria to match your footsteps will be high, but I will continue to serve in this highly regarded capacity in a transparent and just manner, within the laws and in the best interests and aspirations of every Mongolian person and all the people of this country.
As Chairman of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and Prime Minister, you have earned the people’s and country’s trust during a very challenging time. It was your courageous initiative to form a joint Government due to your far-sighted vision and policies as a statesman, and your wisdom to ensure political and social unity. The joint Government you have led during this short time has taken a number of historic decisions and launched many valuable activities, such as the signing of the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement and the Third Crop Campaign, which will contribute substantially to our country’s development and prosperity.
In particular, as a former member of your Cabinet, I would like to stress that the leadership and management skills you have demonstrated during your premiership has brought your team together to tackle the challenges and turbulences of the economic crisis. May I extend my sincerest gratitude to you for steering your joint Government tasks with exemplary leadership and integrity, and may I also now wish you well-being and all the best in your future endeavors.
I consider it to be my humble duty to ensure continuity of the Government’s policies and its activities. Moreover, I will continue to ensure that the goals of the five comprehensiveness-bound improvements proposed by Prime Minister Bayar and the policies of unity and social stability are fulfilled. I believe it is possible to implement the Action Plan of the joint Government with its current structure.
Esteemed Members of the State Great Khural,
At this moment of my appointment as Prime Minister, I deem it appropriate to realistically assess the country’s development objectives, current challenges and difficulties, and set directions to move ahead by taking our potentials and resources into account accurately.
The shadows of the global economic and financial crises have had severe side effects on the country’s major economic sectors, such as, banking, finance, construction, industry, animal husbandry and infrastructure, and have caused substantial burdens for our citizens’ livelihoods. The crisis is far from over. We still have the complex task of getting through this difficult time on our shoulders. There is still a lot of work to be done ahead of us – reforms in state budget, banking and financial systems, as well as the business environment, but I am fully confident that we can achieve these objectives. My Government’s priority task is, therefore, to overcome the crisis and continue with innovations.
Although I perceive these difficulties, I nevertheless look forward to our future with optimism. Mongolia is a rich country. We have inherited this vast country with its rich historic heritage and culture, fertile livestock, generous nature and abundant natural resource reserves. Mongolia has a centuries’ long history of statehood and the Mongolians ought to live happy lives in our own beautiful country.
My Government will enlarge any development policies for the benefit of its people and will strive to implement these with their broad participation and support. We will work for the happy life of every Mongolian. I believe that every Mongolian must have a job, education and be healthy, and that the Government must stand close to the citizens.
The joint Government’s primary objective will be to ensure that every Mongolian has a job and we will, therefore, make efforts to generate employment opportunities for all Mongolians willing to work.
This objective can be realized by launching the groundbreaking work needed for Mongolia’s 21st Century industrialization and translating it into reality. This historic opportunity is drawing closer for us.
Investors’ interest in Mongolia is growing at an unprecedented pace. Although we are landlocked, we are surrounded by globalized world markets. Many mines and associated thereto infrastructure, processing and manufacturing industries, as well as a service sector, are yet to be developed.
The targeted industrialization that reflects Mongolia’s specific competitiveness must be the basis for its 21st Century industrialization policy. The nucleus of this new policy will focus on developing other mineral deposits, following in the Oyu Tolgoi Project’s footsteps to feed the country’s economy, as well as on creating many value-added enterprises to be engaged in copper smelting, construction material, iron, and coking coal production, etc. Not only the mines, but also the numerous processing industries together with service sector projects, will provide a wide range of opportunities to develop small- and medium-sized enterprises. These in turn will provide job opportunities for Mongolians.
It is not possible to carry out the groundbreaking work for new-century industrialization only through slogans or Government bodies’ efforts. The experiences of developing countries with successful industrial development show that, to launch such a mammoth undertaking, it will be necessary to promote and attract domestic and foreign investments, technology and equipment, as well as experience and knowledge. Advanced countries’ experience also shows that development comes through private sector efforts supported by sound policies on the part of the state. In another words, we need to increase our competitiveness dramatically in all sectors and at all levels. Furthermore, our development’s pace must be accelerated.
Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum founder has said that “The world is moving from the one where the big eats the small to the one where the fast eats the slow”. Certainly, there is the high risk of lagging behind if we lose time. Some research studies have clearly warned us of such risks. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, Mongolia is ranked at 100 out of 134 countries. If my assessment is realistic, we are unable to compete in today’s world.
The time for rapid change is now. The time has come for all Mongolians to work harder in order to improve the country’s competitiveness.
Thus, no effort will be spared to turn Mongolia into a highly competitive country in this region – in terms of taxation, legal and foreign investment environments.
To reach these goals, we must introduce internationally-accepted standards in all sectors, including not only commodities’ and materials’ standards, but also new standards related to laws and regulations, technologies and mindsets, as well as to culture and lifestyle.
We can learn from our traditional partners’ experiences where they have recently joined the European Union and enjoy the benefits of such new standards. In bringing up their standards they neither re-invent the wheel nor did they re-write laws according to one person’s wishes. What they did was to choose one standard to be followed, starting with changing road standards to adopting anti-corruption laws to suit local conditions and specifics. I believe this is where their successes have come from.
In terms of climatic conditions, natural resource reserves, population density, as well as geopolitical location, Mongolia is very similar to Canada. There is thus a lot we can adopt from Canada, including its development model, standards, technology and equipment.
In general, it will not be possible to complete this groundbreaking work relying solely on domestic factors. Our foreign partners rightly note that Mongolia is pursuing a far-reaching and well-respected foreign policy despite the fact that it is a small country. There is thus considerable potential to turn this positive mindset into an accelerator for our development.
While setting forward the goal of promoting made-in-Mongolia products on the globalized market, we will create favorable conditions to further facilitate and expand our trade with the Russian Federation, China, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the European Union and India, as well as the other ‘third neighbor’ countries.
We will make efforts to ensure that the Mongolians travel freely abroad, particularly in the countries of our region.
We have set a goal to promote economic dimensions within foreign relations by enriching our foreign policy with the economic content. This policy will continually and intensively be expanded. There is no doubt that this will make a substantial contribution to creating an environment in which each and every Mongolian has a job.
It is essential to ensure that the State provides development-oriented equal opportunities for all Mongolians, empowering and educating them so as to be capable and competitive participants at a global level, thus laying the foundation for the country’s middle class to mature and expand.
We should avoid using the natural resources beneath our soil as consumption sources, as these should turn into intellectual wealth of the Mongolians. Every Mongolian must be educated.
20th Century Mongolia’s human resources, under the education system of that time, have been at the vanguard of national development. Yet, our previous generations did manage to develop our country. Today, Mongolia’s capable human resources must decide on their own development for this new century. We will set a goal to bring the secondary education system and its standards to the levels of leading nations, integrate vocational and tertiary education with labor market requirements, and ensure that every graduate has a job. Education sector development will thus be a priority for the joint Government.
The joint Government will also attach particular importance to the strengthening of the family institution, as this is one of the ancient societal institutions to be greatly valued. As we move ahead in liberty we, as Mongolians, need to uphold and respect our families. We will devote special attention to introducing a series of measures aimed at strengthening family values in our country.
I therefore suggest that when discussing and adopting draft laws on Motherland Bequest and Wealth Sharing these are based on concepts that support the development of families and people. The joint Government will uphold the principle of equally distributing social wealth and will ensure that the elderly, children and disabled people acutely needing social security and protection receive it as a priority.
We need to give proper attention to creating a people-friendly health system. Here I do not only mean an ideally suitable health system, but also a correct social policy that will encourage healthy physical development, as I understand it. We will, therefore, make every effort to encourage further initiatives for public sports, besides supporting healthy lifestyles and foods.
Esteemed Members of the State Great Khural,
There is a huge difference between countries that have used their natural resources wisely and those that have suffered from the ‘curse of wealth’. Such differences stem from the fact that if there is better or poorer governance. Hence, strengthening our democratic system will be another priority for the joint Government. The Mongolian State must stand close to its people.
Everyone is well aware and has much to say about civil service corruption and bureaucratic burdens spoiling the image of our politics, society and Mongolia’s democracy as a whole, and they eat us up from the roots. It is said that corruption is the phenomenon of a failed state. People always despise corrupt governments and must thus take definite steps and actions to eradicate corruption in the real sense rather than just talking about our corrupt systems.
We will adhere to the principle of accountability and at all levels act in unison with what we say. We will also demand changes in working styles. No government organizations at any levels need skin-deep mannerisms. All Government activities and services need to be within established norms, ethical practices and regulations geared for practical outcomes. The beauty of a fair and just state should be judged by its obedience to laws, its transparency, and its closeness to the people being governed.
I believe that respecting and abiding by laws will be a universally recognized path to creating a state that maintains zero tolerance towards corruption and is free of any bad habits. A law must be a precise norm and barometer for all actions in our life.
As embedded in the spirit of Mongolia’s Constitution, abiding by the law is the main principle for all state functions. This will become a foundation to fix our current society’s state, eradicate law and order discrepancies once and for all, and enhance accountability at all Government executive branch levels.
A fair number of complaints and suggestions exist, claiming that failure to update legislative acts to keep pace with social life changes appears to be the cause of red tape and corruption. The goal of applying new standards is therefore of utmost importance when drafting legislative acts to conform with internationally recognized norms and universally accepted principles.
At the same time, civil service’s stability and immunity is essential to ensure that implementation and outcomes are improved.
It has become increasingly necessary to firmly apply the principles of merits-based civil services. It is the state’s responsibility to provide a suitable working environment, protect the integrity of, and secure jobs for diligent and fair civil servants, enabling them, as good citizens, to strictly adhere to the Constitution and other laws for the people’s benefit and in the public’s interests. Moreover, I will work to transform the Government’s decision-making process into one that highlights the principle of evidence-based decision making, so as to eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic stages, get rid of unlawful practices and ethical misconduct, and to ensure that there is no place in the country’s civil service sector for those involved in bad practices. I will also make efforts to reduce the centralization of Government activities, and will draw attention to setting up a balanced mechanism for rights-duties and participation-auditing that can evenly distribute society workloads.
I believe it is important to provide all possibilities to encourage decentralization while strengthening local governments not only by increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making, but also by implementing actions. With a view to achieving this, measures will be taken to transfer authority from central to local governments, and to delegate tasks there when necessary.
I will consider it as a rationale within civil society democratic governance when we transfer some Government functions to civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and professional associations. In doing so, we will be able to balance society’s multiple interests, provide equal opportunities for the State and private sector, encourage trust and partnerships, give people more authority, and ensure their increased participation.
Esteemed Members of the State Great Khural,
For the sake of brevity, I define this joint Government’s policy as ‘the combination of development for the people and people for the development’.
I believe that Mongolia has a bright future and that there are good opportunities for our people to live happy lives in this beautiful country. For this reason, I consider it important to create employment opportunities for all Mongolians, empower our people through education, and develop healthy and competitive Mongolian citizens. I also believe the Mongolian State must be close to its citizens.
I am starting my work fully confident that we can and must do it – moreover, together we can do it. The joint Government needs united unwavering support from the State Great Khural, from the political parties forming this Government, from the President of Mongolia and from all the country’s people.
Thank you for your attention and may Mongolia prosper!