March 27, 2013

It is in every country’s interest to develop and receive a share of power and capital in the world. Businesses represent these national interests by acquiring and maintaining an advantageous position in international markets and by maximizing their profits. In order to reach this goal, developing countries like Mongolia should focus on creating a competitive advantage rather than relying solely on our comparative advantages, such as our great amount of natural resources and cheap labor.
Mongolian companies and business associations have recently been talking about how we can optimize the quality of the products we are good at making, increase demand domestically, and compete in international markets. Furthermore, the Mongolia Economic Forum 2013, which took place a short while ago, discussed creating a competitive Mongolian brand in the sectors of light industry, food, tourism, mining services, and information technology.
Many issues related to hard infrastructure, such as power lines and roads, need to be resolved to achieve the goal of creating a Mongolian brand. On top of that, we also need to create soft infrastructure that can ensure positive changes by making sure that the benefits of economic development are extended to every person in society. We also need to make sure that individuals and companies in our country possess certain qualities and principles. It is time for Mongolians to develop the following five qualities in our personal, social, and political lives.

Quality One – Allowing the free flow of information

Accurate information that includes analysis and studies based on facts and numerical data is essential for keeping socio-economic outputs efficient. The flow of information is considered “restricted,” rather than free-flowing, when access to accurate information is lacking and as long as people are unable to distinguish good information from bad information.
Beyond keeping information transparent, or securing the political independence of public media, easily accessible and accurate information not only helps everyone to better plan their work, but also contributes to a social knowledge base. Information symmetry, where all relevant information is known to all parties involved at the same time, is also one of the basic conditions of a market economy.
An example of restricting information flow is “insider trading,” which has very dire consequences. Insider trading is when someone in a capital market somehow acquires and uses information that can potentially affect the price of shares (to make profits by selling or purchasing shares) before the information is officially made public. Martha Stewart, an American business magnate and a media celebrity, was convicted of insider trading and sent to prison for six months. She sold her stock, after being tipped off, prior to an announcement that share prices were about to fall. She was sentenced a prison term because she had an unfair advantage over others, knowing that the price of her shares was about to drop dramatically. In Mongolia, ensuring information symmetry and transparency is a challenging task because business executives are appointed to high positions in the government, including to high-ranking ministerial positions.

Quality Two – Having personal and general accountability

If individuals or a society lack the culture of acknowledging mistakes and the notion of being held accountable for their actions, those mistakes will be repeated again and again.
When a decision that causes a conflict of interest is made, due to the absence of proper assessment and a lack of information, we try to start from scratch rather than examining the root of the problem and finding a resolution to prevent the same mistake occurring again in the future. One such example is the agreement established with the Chinese company “CHALCO.” The Coalition government entered into an unfavorable agreement with CHALCO in order to find the money that would help them fulfill their election promises. They handed over 250 million USD through the Human Development Fund and delayed the progress of the Tavan Tolgoi project for many years. But no one has been held accountable for this decision. With no accountability for such decisions, there is no guarantee that the same mistake will not be made again.

Quality Three – Setting the core of social structure free from family connections and interest groups

As long as family connections and interest groups dominate in a society, it is not possible to hire the best man or woman for the job. Also, it is impossible for the best representatives to be chosen for public governance. Furthermore, in this kind of society no agreements are viewed as binding and people are not expected to fulfill the responsibilities assigned to them in an agreement. For example, an institution called the “Local Council” is still managing certain aspects of Mongolia’s society, politics and business.
We see a failure to create a management structure every time a new government is established, if newly appointed officials of that government bring their relatives and associates into the public service sector.

Quality Four – Increasing the value of education

The value of higher education in a society expresses the social perception of knowledge, religion, and science and how individual status in that particular society is determined.
We Mongolians view education as something that gives knowledge to people, rather than as something that makes us better people. For many years graduates from Mongolian universities have failed to meet requirements in the world market. Every family today wishes and tries to send their children abroad for schooling.
Due to an overall low level of education and knowledge here in Mongolia, there are more and more wizards, prophets and shamans appearing in our society. As a result, more people are entrusting their fate to someone else, rather than trusting themselves and using their own reasoning ability. As a consequence of weakening personal knowledge and status in society, we are seeing increased negative and damaging behavior developing, such as increased drug use and a growing number of individuals believing in supernatural powers.

Quality Five – Honoring and respecting hard work

The ethics of hard work make up for disadvantages such as an unfavorable geographical location. We are failing to grasp the ethics and culture that promote respect for hard work and which preach that only hard work can bring about success. The appreciation for hard work is declining because more and more people are being given high positions thanks to their connections or political affiliations, and are receiving high incomes while creating no value at all.
It is time for Mongolia’s public media, which has the power to bring about change and sway public opinion, to work on the important goal of conveying and promoting these five qualities among everyone.

Translated by B.AMAR

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=3487

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