Monday, August 15, 2011

Why don't we have politicians like this in Canada?

This afternoon (August 15), I went with Lydia, Myagaa (the executive director of the Mongolian Cooperative Training and Education Centre...aka MCTIC)...and an interpreter named Ganbat to the Mongolian parliament.  We had a meeting with a the Vice-Chairman of the Mongolian parliament...the equivalent of the Canadian Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

Our visit to Parliament:  l to r: Myagaa, Donna, Lydia and Enkhbold

But Enkhbold Nyamaa is not just any politician.  He also happens to be the president of the National Mongolian Cooperators Association (NMCA), the apex organization which was created just a few years ago when the country's sectoral co-operative federations decided they wanted to get together to speak with one voice. The first thing we discovered is that the interpreter wasn't really necessary -- Enkhbold's English is fluent. The second thing we learned is that Mongolia's long-awaited credit union legislation, which was drafted with the help of a CCA technical co-operant and has been seven years in the making, will likely be adopted this fall.  And the third thing we learned was that the co-operative sector has a strong and effective advocate in the Mongolian parliament.

Like many of the co-operators we have met in Mongolia, Enkhbold sees the country's rapidly-growing mining sector as an important opportunity for co-operatives.  The mining industry needs services: and who better to provide those services than co-ops?  "The mining sector is developing very fast; it is the engine for the rest of the economy," he told us. "But the mining companies don't do the small things that co-operatives can do."

Tomorrow morning, Sarah and I head off to the Mongolian countryside, while Lydia remains in Ulaanbaatar for meetings with a variety of stakeholders.  More to come...internet access willing.

-- Donna Balkan

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