Mongolia will become an energy independent country says Prime Minister Khurelsukh
Below is English translation of the speech of the Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party and Prime Minister of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh during the campaign for the parliamentary election on June 24. According to the latest polls Khurelsukh has the highest popularity among voters.
First, we must provide our citizens with healthy food.
Mongolians should not go hungry and eat healthy food. For the past three years, we have been focusing on grain, agriculture, and animal husbandry. We can not only meet our domestic needs with food, but also export it abroad. Mongolian territory is landlocked, but its people have access to the sea. We have two large neighbors with large populations. They need food. Food and vegetables grown in Mongolia are consumed by the people with above-average incomes. Together we can create such an opportunity.
Second, we must provide our country with energy.
We talked about for many years that electricity should not be imported, but it has not been done yet. Today, we import 20 percent of our energy. That will change in the next four years. We have expanded Power Plant IV, and now we are expanding Power Plant III. A new power plant was built in Darkhan. It was decided to build the Tavan Tolgoi power plant. In four years, we will not be importing energy, we will be an energy exporter.
Third, Mongolia will be an oil-producing country.
Our country has its own oil, but it exports $ 1 billion a year. Our country imports 98% of its fuel. If we become an oil-producing country, not only will $1 billion remain in Mongolia, but the dollar will fall and gasoline prices will fall. An oil refinery will be commissioned and the price of gasoline will be reduced by 20-30 percent. We have completed the infrastructure work. Now we will start building the refinery. By the end of 2023, our oil refinery will be operational. Mongolians will pump Mongolian gas in their cars with Mongolian tugrugs. This work must be done. Issues related to our independence and security.
Fourth, solve the infrastructure problem.
In the last three years, we have built 2,000 km of roads. Many bridges, dams and engineering structures have been built. Mongolians themselves built a heavy duty road. Our Mongolian engineers and road companies have become so capable and strong. Mongolians ourselves are building the railway. This road is being built by Mongolian engineers and soldiers. In the future, we will have a military engineering class, so the government is providing them with equipment. It's time to stop begging from foreign countries. It's time to stop to be told how should we live. It's time for us to build our country ourselves.
Fifth, develop communication and information technology.
The radio and television we use in our daily lives, the cell phones we carry, the computers, the internet, the online are all connected. This issue has been relatively resolved in our country. Now it needs to be upgraded. If these five issues are addressed in a comprehensive manner, Mongolia will develop and prosper. The first three issues are matter of national security and independence, so they must be given priority.
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As the new amendments in the constitution took effect last week relationships between lawmakers, prime minister and the president are expected to significantly change impacting the country's politics, governance and key decision-making process in the coming years in Mongolia.
The new changes would pave the way for the new Mongolian Prime Minister (or Khurelsukh if he wins majority) to have full (almost) power to hire and fire his cabinet ministers. The executive power would be boosted by restricting the interference of parliament and president to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers.
Previously, the constitution allowed Mongolian parliamentarians to hold cabinet posts at the same time and it has long been criticized as the key weakness of the executive power leading to government instability and frequent changes of prime ministers. With powerful parliamentarians in the cabinet, the prime minister has been viewed only “first among equals” within the executive branch, chairing cabinet discussions and having some power to set the government’s agenda.
With the new rule, the Prime Minister is expected to act as a chief executive while presidential influence would be limited. By the new constitution, presidential two-term is now reduced to single-term 6 years and he or she will have less say in the appointment of judges and anti-corruption head, which are regarded to be most politicized.
The cohabitation of Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga (Democratic Party) and Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh (Mongolian People's Party) has played well so far. Khurelsukh got along with Battulga from the start and prevented any major stalemate, despite the two leaders representing different parties.
If Khurelsukh wins in June his collaboration with the president might end as Battulga will seek his re-election (it still remains debatable whether he's eligible to re-run with the new constitution). With the rising popularity of Khurelsukh Battulga will likely view him as a key challenger next year leading towards friction between the two.
If DP wins and assuming Battulga is re-elected next year Erdene-Battulga may result in faster key decision making. It could also create a similar political condition which was maintained by Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chimediin Saikhanbileg collaboration between 2014-2016, which resulted in the Oyu Tolgoi deal with Rio Tinto and Erdenet Mine's 49% transaction.
In the case of a hung parliament, key decisions will likely be delayed while coalition politicking consuming most of time and energy. The new PM will probably have to rely much on the president to govern effectively in spite of strengthened powers provided by the new constitution.
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