Mongolians will vote on Thursday to elect a new parliament which will have the task of distributing the spoils of a mining boom that has brought rapid growth but also rising inequality to the resource-rich nation. Mongolia’s economy has exploded in recent years, as a relatively stable political environment has drawn in foreign investors keen to exploit its vast untapped reserves of coal, copper and gold. Foreign investment quadrupled last year to nearly $US5 billion, according to government data, but little of that has trickled down to the poorest of Mongolia’s 2.8 million people. The ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party both say they want to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth in the vast and remote nation, although neither has given any detailed indication of how.
“The issue now is how the parties will use the further proceeds of mineral wealth coming into the country,” said Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa, a Mongolian political commentator and television presenter. “One thing that is for sure is that they will not be giving out any more cash payments to anyone. We are tired of the conflict of interests and using public money for their political purposes,” he told AFP.
Before the last parliamentary elections in 2008, voters were offered cash payments of up to 1.5 million Mongolian tugrik ($US1,130) as the leading parties attempted to gain political capital from the economic boom. That practice has been banned this year. But what politicians do with the proceeds of foreign investment has become a major election issue, with more than $US1 trillion worth of mineral deposits yet to be extracted.
Full Article: Inequality to dominate Mongolia poll | Herald Sun.