• Amar Adiya

Prime Minister of Mongolia Oyun-Erdene Wants to Get the Country Out of Pandemic Slowdown

The Mongolian Economic Forum (MEF), which was held yearly from 2010 to 2018, was reintroduced by Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai. The forum has returned and was held on April 7-8, 2022. Originally planned as a Davos-style forum early in the year, it brought together lawmakers and business leaders to discuss major issues confronting the country.

Photo of Prime Minister of Mongolia Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai
Photo of Prime Minister of Mongolia Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai

This year’s MEF took place as Mongolia is eyeing recovery from the pandemic challenges as the government spent significant public funds on stimulus and COVID response.


In the midst of the economic downturn, the government is attempting to recoup funds by raising taxes.

Parliamentary Speaker Zandanshatar hinted it was time for introducing a progressive income tax, which has been attempted before but then folded.


The ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) must still follow through on its 2020 election promise, which stated “a system of high taxes on high incomes and low taxes on low incomes.”


The years 2022 and 2023 are expected to be active for legislative activity.

In view of the off-election season, the pace of regulatory and policy reforms is projected to pick up.

To that effect, the ruling party lawmakers met leaders of political parties without parliamentary seats to consult on the review of the upcoming political and election campaign financing law.


The MEF opened up forward-looking thinking in policy circles in Ulaanbaatar. It focused on energy, border bottleneck, industrialization, rural development, green growth, and government reforms.


The underpinning agenda of Mongolian Economic Forum is Oyun Erdene’s New Revival Policy along with the Vision 2050.

However, the MEF's agenda for 2022 appears to avoid the discussion of mining, which is the primary source of revenue in Mongolia. Nationalist sentiment and dissatisfaction with the government's perceived incapacity to transfer resource wealth into practical advantages for the public continue to exist.


Ending a conflict with Rio Tinto was a game changer and a significant achievement for Oyun-Erdene. He will now need to do more to establish strong ties and confidence with international investors.


MEF's April meeting and subsequent steps are expected to serve as Oyun-Erdene's road map for post-COVID economic recovery, as the country is hampered by growing inflation, oil prices, supply chain disruptions, and border bottlenecks with China.

With a super-majority in parliament for the next two years, Oyun-Erdene is free to pursue any legislative change he desires.

 

Author


Amar Adiya is editor-in-chief of Mongolia Weekly newsletter and regional director at Washington-based strategic advisory firm BowerGroupAsia.