ULAANBAATAR, April 04, 2007 – The Government of Mongolia and external partners concluded a two-day technical meeting today to discuss a draft of Mongolian National Development Strategy and progress made by sectoral working groups. The bi-annual technical meeting, jointly organized by the Government of Mongolia and the World Bank, has become a regular platform to discuss Mongolia’s development priorities and intensify cooperation between the Government of Mongolia and its external partners in supporting those priorities.
The event was opened by Prime Minister of Mongolia M. Enkhbold and World Bank and IFC Vice President for financial and private sector development and IFC chief economist Michael Klein. The meeting was attended by the Finance Minister, infrastructure ministries, agriculture minister and numerous parliamentarians, and almost all of Mongolia’s external partners including representatives from civil societies and private sector.
Prime Minister of Mongolia M. Enkhbold noted that “This third technical meeting will contribute a lot for effective coordination of foreign aid and assistance in line with the long-term national development policies of Mongolia.”
Participants congratulated Mongolia on achieving a respectable rate of growth, and recent poverty reduction. At the same time, they stressed that Mongolia’s challenge is to ensure that the progress becomes a long-term trend and not just a temporary episode. World Bank and IFC Vice President for financial and private sector development and IFC chief economist Michael Klein noted that “Natural resources bring many opportunities to improve livelihoods, but that there are concerns that the benefits from natural resources will not be well shared. Therefore it will be important to ensure transparency and accountability in the sector through initiatives such as EITI.”
At the meeting a draft of National Development Strategy (NDS) was presented by Government of Mongolia. NDS is the first comprehensive policy of Mongolia’s development that attempts to layout longer term goals while recognizing that the Government is often taken up with urgent issues for transition period. Prime Minister M. Enkhbold stressed the need for a strategy that will enhance the motivation and action of Mongolians to develop their country. He emphasized that “National Development Strategy is the mission statement and the aspiration of a concept of “We Mongolians will develop Mongolia ourselves.””
The Government presented key elements of the draft strategy, which is based on the MDGs and includes more than 120 priorities and 600 actions to be carried out through 2021. It was developed based on a consultative process involving participants from government, civil society, and academic organizations, and has been made available to the public on the web. Strategic actions aim at accelerating economic growth.
Partners appreciated the Government and people of Mongolia that development of NDS as a good start for long term vision and planning for the country’s development and have provided some constructive ideas and comments for further improvements of the NDS.
Partners remarked that Mongolia has made good progress over the past 15 years on many fronts, while also noting that Mongolia faces many tough choices ahead. There was wide agreement that the NDS can play a key role in defining the way forward as Mongolia confronts these difficult decisions and trade-offs. They expressed a collective sense that significant changes are needed in the current draft if it is to serve as a document that truly sets clear strategic directions for Mongolia’s future, outlines the main pathways to get there, and catalyze the level of country ownership needed for successful implementation.
The meeting also facilitated working groups’ sessions to review progress made in key sectors since technical meeting in October 2006. Working groups chaired by line ministries and lead donors were established by the Minister of Finance in late 2006 to accelerate work on sector-level development strategies and implementation of actions agreed. Technical meeting sessions have covered energy, transport and road, private sector development, agriculture and environment.
The education working group was singled out for its successful adoption of an implementation plan that enabled Mongolia to access nearly $8 million from Catalytic Fund for 2007 shortly after when Mongolia joined in Fast Track Initiative.
Minister of Finance N. Bayartsaikhan noted “We are happy that working groups have been already established according to our discussion at the previous meeting and they are working successfully. However results and works of the groups differ from each other. So we need to work to improve their work and bring them in same level.”
Chairman of the Infrastructure working group T.Ochirkhuu presented the Infrastructure strategy jointly prepared involving the three infrastructure line ministries, his committee, and the World Bank. He noted the Government’s recent initiative to connect soums to the power grid and to extend rural roads. As a next step, he urged that the infrastructure strategy should be integrated into the NDS.
The GoM presented its investment plan for transport and road sector. While generally welcoming the work that has gone into the plan, external partners voiced concerns over the affordability and sustainability of the strategy, its alignment with social sector goals, and whether there is adequate capacity to implement such an ambitious strategy. As next steps, working group will review current investment plan and prioritize issues including capacity by the end of April.
Newly established working group on urban development has managed to meet several times successfully. Japan, GTZ and other partners are active in this sector. JICA has started a study to review Master plan of Ulaanbaatar. Partners emphasized community participation approach in this sector. They also urged the Government to further specify its role in urban development and housing, and that their role would be more facilitating rather than executing it themselves, which is costly. The Minister said that government’s role will be mainly to create a conducive system, issue government bonds if necessary, and provide some financial inputs for developing infrastructure and create a favorable financial environment.
At the session of private sector and mining working group, EBRD and the World Bank jointly presented their proposed project that offers technical assistances and mobilization of possible resources for mining projects. The working group has agreed to reconstitute the group.
During energy working group session partners have reached broad consensus that the sector has financial difficulties. Therefore they noted that tariff reform including good public awareness and communication on this reform is needed to be taken into action. It was also noted a need of sector’s systematic policy and strategy, which should align NDS.
Working group of environment and agriculture outlined several areas requiring special attention in capacity building, including reducing air pollution, addressing desertification and land conservation, risk management and Early Warning Network, and agricultural technology. Also they emphasized an importance to have strategic approach to address air pollution reduction in UB.
The third technical meeting between the Government of Mongolia and external partners held in Government house on 3-4 April, 2007. The meeting has contributed to strengthening cooperation between the Government and its external partners by focusing on NDS.