A team of Mongolian officials and journalists made their way to Washington DC to participate in the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their goal was to discuss the future of the extended fund facility and the prospects of Mongolia overcoming its debt obligations.
The Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the the World Bank Group and IMF bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, and businessmen from all around the world.
An important meeting for Mongolia was Mongol Bank Governor N.Bayartsaikhan’s meeting with the Managing Director of IMF, Christine Lagarde. In the meeting, N.Bayartsaikhan conveyed the Mongolian government’s wish to continue the extended fund facility.
The annual meetings also encompass a multitude of smaller conferences such as a meeting focused on the prospect of the economy in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Mongolia’s extended fund facility got off to a good start. The Mongolian economy is growing and balance of payments is stabilizing. The same goes for the budget. The dismissal of Cabinet slowed down the progress of the program. An IMF delegation has met with the new Prime Minister and ensure the continuation of the program which has been a positive signal. Even though the beginning of the program was favorable, I want to stress the importance of continuation for the program,” outlined Dr. Markus Rodlauer, Deputy Director of IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.
“The program will continue for three more years. It has been less than half a year since the program was first implemented, let’s continue together,” Dr. Rodlauer added.
Participating in the annual meetings, IMF Resident Representative Neil Saker said that his meeting with new Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh was positive.
“Meeting with the Mongolian Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh, he seemed like a strong person. The letter he sent to IMF assured us that the program would continue,” Saker noted.
“The implementation of the extended fund facility has helped stabilize the MNT and sent a message to investors that Mongolia’s policy would be stable. The first review of the program was positive. I am confident that the second review will also be favorable,” the IMF Resident Representative added.
The second and third stages of financing by IMF might be transferred to Mongolia in December, according to Koshy Mathai, the Deputy Division Chief in IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, covering Korea and Mongolia.
But Mathai, who has been replaced by Geoff Gottlieb as Deputy Division Chief, did not eliminate the possibility of a postponement.
Gottlieb will soon be heading to Ulaanbaatar to review the progress of the program.
A delegation from the Ministry of Finance is also in Washington DC but they have another objective outside of ensuring the continuation of the extended fund facility.
Mongolia has bond debt obligations of 660 million USD in 2018, first with the 500 million USD repayment for the Chinggis Bond in January, and 160 million USD for the Dim Sum bond maturing in May of 2018.
In August, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Finance B.Nyamaa reported that Mongolia does not have enough capital to repay its upcoming debt obligations in 2018.
“As of right now, we do not have enough accumulated reserves to complete the repayment of these bonds in 2018. The foreign currency reserve is very low and the budget deficit remains high. Even though the economy has rebounded, we haven’t been able to concentrate the 660 million USD needed for bond repayment in 2018,” reported B.Nyamaa in August.
“If the government is not able to meet its debt obligations in 2018, it will face the prospect of defaulting on all sovereign bonds it has issued,” he added.
As a result, the only ideal option left has been to refinance the bond debt through another sovereign bond. According to Unuudur, reports indicate that Mongolian representatives will be visiting New York, Boston, and London to introduce a new bond to investors. Many investors are said to be interested in a new sovereign bond issued by Mongolia due to the security an IMF program provides. The stability in policy is also reportedly attracting the interest of institutional investors.
In February this year, the Ministry of Finance refinanced the 580 million USD Euro Bond through a new Khuraldai Bond issued at 8.75 interest rate.
This time around, officials seem confident that the interest rate of a new bond will be lower than 8.75 percent.