09 · Jan · 2021
Photograph by: Khurelbaatar Chimed—Mongolian parliament member and Minister of Finance—giving a presentation of COVID-19 financial assistance received by Mongolia
On August 5th, 2020, Breathe Mongolia analyzed and published a summary of the COVID-19 relief and support funds received by the Mongolian Government. The information published in the summary was sourced from various news articles and outlets. The summary listed parties that contributed financial assistance during the pandemic to the Mongolian Government, organized in order from the largest financial contribution to the smallest. For example, the top three contributors were the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the European Union (EU). The purpose of this summary was in line with Breathe Mongolia’s mission to serve as a watchdog, promote government accountability and transparency, and encourage the public to hold their governments and each other accountable.
The summary report was later used by the Mongolian Government in an in-person press conference on November 18th, 2020 led by Khurelbaatar Chimed—Mongolian parliament member and Minister of Finance. However, the Government failed to credit Breathe Mongolia-Clean Air Coalition as a source of information. Additionally, the presentation appeared to have been directly taken from the summary report that was published on Breathe Mongolia’s website. The conference was covered by multiple Mongolian news outlets and live-streamed on Facebook by Eagle News.
In their report, the Government confirmed the $69.8 million dollars contributed by the World Bank. They added details about where the funds were allocated and how much they had received, as well as project descriptions. For example, $2.1 million dollars was used to fund the “‘Tele-health’ project relocation”, which provided many necessary medical devices to Mongolian hospitals. These claims were substantiated with images of bank account statements from the Central Bank of Mongolia. The Government also offered updates to Breathe Mongolia’s summary. For instance, they had contracted to receive $50.8 million dollars from the European Union and had already received $16 million dollars rather than the originally estimated $104 million dollars.
Although Breathe Mongolia recognizes the government’s gesture in promoting transparency, we also believe the government should have been transparent about who undertook the labor in researching the funds received and compiling the data. This report along with creating other relevant COVID-19 resources was one of Breathe Mongolia’s largest projects in 2020. Such financial information is important and relevant to all Mongolian citizens, and visibility into funded projects and purchased equipment is not only necessary but also inspiring. The general public has the right to know how their government is working to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
This global pandemic has illustrated how important a working relationship between a government and its citizens is, as well as the importance of the public health system, and medical research. We hope that reports similar to that created by the Mongolian Government in response to Breathe Mongolia’s summary are shared more transparently in the future.
The issues stated in this piece will likely endure past the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to threaten open information-sharing between the government and the public. The Breathe Mongolia – Clean Air Coalition will continue to do its part by providing educational resources and summaries of the science and political policies behind air pollution.
For more information from Breathe Mongolia about the COVID-19 pandemic in Mongolia, check out:
- Timeline of COVID-19 Events
- COVID-19 Updates in Mongolia
- Coronavirus and Air Pollution in Mongolia: What You Need to Know
For the latest information about air pollution and COVID-19 in Mongolia, check out the Breathe Mongolia website, follow us on social media, and subscribe to our newsletter!
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