MPs consider new legal status for Ulaanbaatar

Parliament discussed on Friday revising the legal status of Ulaanbaatar, following the big rise in its population in recent years. Migration from rural areas has, according to M.Enkhbold who proposed the draft amendments, has increased the population of the capital city by 471,500. It is now one of the 477 cities in the world with more than one million people. It also has 50 percent of the total Mongolian population and 70 percent of the country’s urban population.

MPs discussed issues of the rights and duties of the capital’s citizens in the new situation, levying taxes on newcomers, and even introducing a capital citizens’ tax and an air pollution tax. Organizing regular meetings of the citizen’s representatives of Ulaanbaatar was suggested. Some MPs proposed that Ulaanbaatar should have its own separate budget, and its Mayor and the city administration should be given a higher legal status, with the Mayor treated as the chairman of a citizen’s representative assembly. MPs noted that only 50 percent of the tax income of the capital city remains in its own account and can be used for the city’s development. E.Bat-Uul proposed to increase this amount to 66 percent by transferring only 34 percent of capital city’s tax income into state budget income. J.Batsuur, however, warned that aimags will make similar demands if the capital city is allowed to levy its own taxes.

Ts.Bayarsaihan suggested raising finance for Ulaanbaatar by issuing bonds. A.Tleikhan said that many people prefer to live in the capital as prices of goods and services are less here. Migration can be controlled if life in rural areas was to be cheaper.

In 2004, 74,847 people from rural areas, which is the population of almost one aimag, were registered in Ulaanbaatar. The population of Ulaanbaatar rose by 28,000 in 2005 and 2006 and by 33,000 in 2007 and 2008. The recent dzud will make for another wave of migration to Ulaanbaatar.

Sh.Saikhansambuu proposed to raise the status of the Governor of Ulaanbaatar to equal to that of a member of the Government. Kh.Badelkhan inquired whether the capital would be shifted to Tuv aimag and was told by G.Munkhbayar there was no chance of that in the coming 50 years. Ya.Batsuuri was against having the capital city’s representative offices abroad, saying, “Why do we have embassies?” The Governor of Ulaanbaatar explained that representative offices would be different from embassies. MPs decided to hold further discussions on the issue.
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