[아시아엔=돌고르 춘룬바타르 <아시아엔> 몽골지부장, 아시아기자협회 부회장] 지난 3월 27일 오흐나깅 후렐수흐 몽골 총리는 각료회의를 마친 뒤 정부가 국가경제를 견인하겠다는 의지를 피력했다.
총리는 이 자리에서 “총리로서 어려운 경제 여건을 극복하며 몽골 시민의 생명을 지키는 데 주력하고 있다”고 밝히고 코로나19의 위험성이 통제되고 있음을 시사했다.
현재 몽골정부는 여타 국가들에 비해 코로나바이러스 감염 사례가 적지만 지난 1월부터 국경을 봉쇄하고 중국을 여행하는 사람들의 입국을 거부하고 있다. 중국행 석탄 수출을 중단하는 등의 공격적인 조치들도 취했다.
몽골정부는 또 해외무역 수입의 최대 원천인 석탄수출을 중단하기까지 이르렀다. 특히 4월 30일까지 몽골 내 모든 학교에 휴교령을 내렸다.
이런 조치들로 인해 4월 3일 현재 몽골의 코로나 확진자 수는 14명에 그치고 있다. 이와 관련해 후렐수흐 총리는 “몽골 인민의 지혜와 끈기가 코로나19의 확산을 막고있다”고 말다. 그는 “4월 1일부터 10월 1일까지 몽골 내 모든 기업이 지불해야 하는 사회보장 기여금을 한시적으로 중단하며, 6개월 동안 임금에 대한 소득세는 부과하지 않을 것”이라고 밝혔다.
한편 6월 24일로 예정되어 있는 몽골 총선은 예정대로 진행된다. <요약 번역 송재걸 기자>
다음은 기사 원문.
PRIME MINISTER PRAISES MONGOLIAN PEOPLE’S VIGILANCE AND ANNOUNCES ECONOMIC MEASURES
By Tuul Chuluunbaatar
ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA- After the extraordinary meeting of the Government of Mongolia today, Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa made a statement on the measures to be taken by the Government to support the economy in connection with the transition to a high level of preparedness throughout the country amid the outbreak.
“As the Prime Minister, I am focusing on protecting the lives of Mongolian citizens first and foremost and second, overcoming the difficult economic conditions. Coronavirus infection is under control.” Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa said in the remarks.
In January, Mongolia announced measures that were the most drastic steps taken by any nation at that time over concerns about coronavirus, which was rapidly spreading across China. Though Mongolia had no recorded cases of coronavirus, it had sealed off the border, refused entry to anyone traveling through China, suspended China-bound exports of coal- one of the country’s largest sources of foreign trade revenue, suspended public events, temporarily shut all level of schools, which will remain shut until April 30, and ordered anyone who went outdoors to wear a mask. The landlocked, Central Asian nation shares nearly 5,000-kilometer border with China.
The measures worked. As a consequence of all the early aggressive “social distancing” measures implemented in the entire country, as of March 27, there are only 11 people infected in Mongolia- all its cases come from abroad with no locally- transmitted COVID-19 case.
The first case of coronavirus infection was reported in Mongolia on March 10. The patient is a French National who arrived from France via the Moscow and Ulaanbaatar flight on March 2. Other infected persons arrived on the evacuation flights from South Korea and Germany, which was organized by the government.
The country’s successes so far have given Mongolians confidence that they can get a jump on COVID-19 and received praises from other countries.
“I am grateful that the awareness and support of the people are helping to prevent the spread of this disease.” Khurelsukh saluted the Mongolian efforts against the pandemic, “the situation has not worsened as a result of careful gradual implementation of measures taken to prevent the spread of the disease.” he said.
As the coronavirus pandemic devastates the economy, Khurelsukh announced the ₮5tn MNT relief package to overcome the economic difficulties. The relief package will provide ₮200,000 MNT per month to businesses for three months, cancel social security contributions of businesses from April 1 to October 1, no income tax on wages for 6 months, no tax will be levied on companies with income below ₮1.5bn MNT and provides ₮3bn MNT lending program fund for herders with 3% interest rate. Due to the suspension of all levels of education, it also increases the child allowance by ₮10,000 MNT for three months. The government will also reduce the fuel price from April 15.
“Commercial banks must be patriotic.” said Khurelsukh. “We met with the management of commercial banks to cancel loans. The economic situation is worsening and the situation of businesses is getting worse. The Bank of Mongolia lowered its policy rate by one percent. We asked the Bank of Mongolia to focus on further lowering the policy rate.” He doubled down during the announcement, warning that “Commercial banks must lower their interest rate. If the banks do not comply with the repeated requests, the government may take unfavorable measures against the commercial banks in the future. In general, banking reform is needed.”
The government has allocated ₮17bn MNT from the state reserve fund for medicines and medical devices. The government also spent ₮ 20.3bn MNT on much-needed aid. In addition, ₮159bn MNT will be provided to health facilities. This includes spending on protective clothing, medicine and medical supplies. The government is spending a total of ₮200bn MNT to protect the health of its people.
As the coronavirus pandemic all but shuts down the Mongolian economy, the activists, politicians and many Mongolians say the stimulus package needs to be bigger and provide direct payments to Mongolians to tend to the needs of the working people and help individuals cope with the economic downturn.
During the announcement, Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa has stated that as of now the parliamentary elections will not be postponed.