Little support given for dismissing Minister D. Zorigt

On January 20, the issue of dismissing government member and Minerals and Energy Minister D. Zorigt was discussed at a plenary meeting of parliament. However, 75 percent of 56 MPs who were present at the  meeting polled that it was ‘unnecessary to dismiss Minerals Minister D. Zorigt’.During the plenary meeting, MPs asked questions about reasons for the dismissal of Minister D. Zorigt, and some of them expressed their
positions.
The issue most discussed by MPs was about the evidence that the minister issued 192 exploration and mining licenses for areas in ‘protected zones with a river source, reservoir, and forestry’, breaking a law on prohibiting mining explorations and extraction in areas with a river source, reservoir and forestry, adopted by
parliament on July 16, 2009.
Minerals and Energy Minister D. Zorigt explained that it has not been so easy to implement the parliamentary resolution on publicly informing protected areas by setting boundaries within a period of three months. In the process of mapping, cadastre, information was publicly given and it was reported to cancel licenses pursuant to resolution #57.
Nature, Environment and Tourism Minister L. Gansukh explained that all coincidences of areas in all coordinates were introduced to government and it was considered to be right to cancel mining licenses for earth deposits in the first phase.
Minister D.Zorigt added that the survey was taken from mining companies whose licenses were cancelled and that are required to be compensated. The companies demanded compensation worth Tgs4-5 trillion and this issue is being studied.
The Mongol Bank reported that there is huge debt and credit in regards to over 380 mining licenses and sent a letter requesting attention be given to recover the debt and loan.
MP Ts. Sedvanchig said, “You are saying that the law will come into effect after issuing a cadastre and mapping of crossings. The law must be effective as soon as it is adopted. Forestry and reservoirs are understandable; in reality however, mining activities are still being conducted in areas with river sources and other areas after the law was passed. There is a clause in the law, saying that boundaries shall be settled within 3 months following adoption of the law”.
MP Z. Enkhbold expressed his position that the law was not implemented until today since its approval and it seems there is a lobby of license holders beyond Minister Zorigt’s act of seeking every possibility to undermine the law. He continued, saying that if the minister is not dismissed, Parliament would have to annul the law that it adopted, but not being implemented.
Another evidence for dismissal was Minister Zorigt’s failure to fulfill parliamentary resolution #57 dated July 16, 2009 and not providing required information and documents until today to the Working Group, responsible for getting familiar with the process of income collection and taxation within frames of Oyu Tolgoi
project’s investment and workingout a proposal. It causes the Working Group that was set up in March of 2010 to be unable to work and make any conclusion.
In response, D. Zorigt said that he sent information he has about Oyu Tolgoi Project to MP Ts. Batbayar, head of the Working Group, under  the law and cited official documents including 93 pages of documents. He added that there is secret information that must not be exposed and it is only possible to receive this information by the request of an Audit Organization.
He also offered an apology for late delivery of some information because it takes longer to prepare information about the investors. In turn, MP Ts. Batbayar said, “You are lying about giving me information. I sent a letter of request for concise answers to some questions, but you sent too many pages with uncertain information. Our working group applied to the auditing organization and worked with two auditors, with no success.”
MP S. Erdene accused D. Zorigt of protecting the interest of a foreign wealthy company and added that even the auditing organization is unable to get information and there are many foreigners who are more powerful than the State organization. MP N. Batbayar said that people are depressed because Government distorted assignments given by Parliament, and Oyu Tolgoi did not bring a debt to Mongolia firstly; however, D. Zorigt is guilty for bringing debts. He also cited an example about Mongolia’s equity in Oyu Tolgoi Project and blamed D. Zorigt for not giving the required documents to the head of the Parliamentary Working Group. In turn, D. Zorigt responded that he is sure there will be a change of quality in this project and is accountable for all works for the nation.
“Billions of Tgs have been spent under the pretext of renewable energy without accurate calculation of fruits from the investment. However, there has not been any visible outcome and the environment is being destroyed.
Some tenders announced in the energy sector in 2009-2010, did not work honestly and bidders who did not meet qualifications were selected in the tender. It resulted in poor quality of 70-80 percent of all assembling works in the renewable energy sector. Local citizens often complain about it. Actions to be taken in frames of objectives to reduce Ulaanbaatar’s air pollution was asserted in parliamentary resolutions #46 in 2007 and #36 in 2010 have not been effectively implemented. A tender for founding a semi-coked fuel plant relied on Electric Power Station II could not been conducted under the relevant requirements and funding was transferred when the winner of the tender did not start its operation”.
In response to the evidence, D. Zorigt explained that relevant legal organizations supervised tender issues.
Some MPs expressed opposition to dismissing Minister D. Zorigt. For instance, MP J. Enkhbayar said, “I am opposed to the act of attacking one person. It is unfortunate that some people are doing it to raise their reputation and trying to look honest in front of the public at present time when an election is so near. A person who works makes mistakes; however, one who does not work does not have any mistake or merit”.
Prime Minister S. Batbold was present at the discussion and answered some questions by MPs saying, “Government can endure responsibility. We have a favorable period to use advantages for the prosperity of Mongolia. It has taken many years while we talked about these matters. We are debating; however, creative works are late. There needs to be talk about a development policy. As the joint government was established, it could move a stoppage. There might be both mistakes and corrections. MPs should treat this issue in principle. If there is a matter requiring dismissal, I will bring the matter myself. I think it is unnecessary to dismiss D. Zorigt”
By B. Ooluun

source: The Mongol Messenger newspaper
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