Incentives for new settlers in rural areas are not helpful

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  • 2024-03-04
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Incentives for new settlers in rural areas are not helpful

An entertainment television channel, which was set up about three years ago and broadcast famous foreign programs and contents to Mongolians with franchise rights, officially announced that it will present the “Rural Revival” documentary series to viewers every Tuesday starting from March 5. The series will share the true stories and experiences of 10 people who moved to rural areas, fleeing from the “turbulent” lifestyle of Ulaanbaatar City and seeking peace. This content expects to help people change their perspective on life today and take a bold step to move away from the city.

It has been noticed that the public, hungry for entertainment and rewarding productions, is seeing it in a positive manner, saying, “This content is giving us a reason to watch TV” and “We need to produce a program with this kind of life instead of broadcasting foreign shows”. It seems that their expectations are high. Unfortunately, it is very doubtful that television will be able to show a series that satisfies the expectations of the audience, reflects the reality of rural life, and meets the requirements of the documentary genre.

It is obvious that the purpose of this program is to promote the “Rural Revival” Policy implemented by the government. Therefore, it is safe to say that its message should be given to the public that life is being “flourished” in the countryside and that it is possible to live safely and peacefully there in order to publicize the government’s policies and decisions.

To make the program interesting, the challenges and obstacles faced by the main characters might be highlighted, but in the end, they are expected to successfully overcome all of them and find a way to live in rural areas. On the contrary, it is crucial not to deceive and mislead the public in this way. Instead, this TV production needs to realistically show the obstacles to rural development and the problems faced by local people, especially migrants. This is because this can create a basis for effective implementation of the policy of balancing the development of the capital and rural areas and increasing migration from the city to the countryside.

It has been observed that Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene’s government is paying too much attention to its form and not seeing its main essence of the “Rural Revival” which is one of the main goals of the New Revival Policy. This is seen as empty promises and slogans if we watch their propaganda-like discussions, conferences and programs.

In particular, in the spring of last year, the government organized the “Rural Revival” national conference and made many young people talk about good and positive things. But now it is about to deliver a series with such content. Maybe this is a PR show before the upcoming parliamentary elections. In reality, the young people mentioned that nothing has changed in the countryside and the situation is difficult. The government, provincial and soum officials promised many things to the youth who moved from the capital to rural areas, but they have not been implemented, people said. 

For instance, a woman who moved from Ulaanbaatar to Khovd Province, which is the westernmost region of Mongolia, stated, “There are good things and advantages here, such as clean air and peace. But there are many problems. I requested to provide 0.07 hectares of land to my family (with three children). However, the local administration responded that the place where people can live has run out.”

“Now we live in a rented house. There are many good things written in the support program for young families approved by the government. In specific, it is stated that the house rent for the first year of a family that moved to rural areas will be covered. In accordance with the program, their children would be provided with public education and they would be able to receive a three-percent mortgage loan. But these are not implemented at all. I can’t even register my address transfer because I don’t have my own place and address. Children of temporary residents are not admitted to schools and kindergartens. I came here to get away from the stressful life of Ulaanbaatar, but because of these problems, I am inevitably frustrated. If the government’s policies and decisions are practical, young people can be encouraged to live in the countryside,” she expressed.

Moreover, believing in the government’s promise to support the youth, a citizen who moved to Selenge Province and got a job in its administrative organization says that he did not find any of these good opportunities.

A netizen wrote on his social media account that, “It has been many months that I have not been able to get land, housing, subsidized loans, incentives, or even my basic salary.” This is the reality. But the government continues to promote that in 2023, for the first time in history, 20,000 people moved to rural areas. The results of “Rural Revival” have been achieved, they reported.

Like the aforementioned citizens, a young man who moved to the countryside with optimistic thoughts but “lost” in the end said, “Ulaanbaatar is smoky, congested, stressful, slippery, schools and kindergartens are not accessible and the hospital does not have enough beds. Because of the lack of comfortable living conditions, young families are forced to think about their children’s health. That’s why they are fleeing to the countryside. But they are not given land to go there. Even though there is no workplace, their business is not supported there. What kind of recovery is this?”

Employment is the basis of rural development. With work and income, people can live in rural areas, make a living, and plan for the future. But now there is a shortage of jobs in rural areas. There are options for working in a few state and government institutions, such as local government, schools, kindergartens, and hospitals, but these are very difficult for “outsiders”. Labor laws and regulations are not strictly followed there, so there are many problems such as overtime work, non-functional tasks, pressure, and political influence. All this continues to weaken the confidence of young people who moved with the optimistic goals and aspirations of “contributing to the development of their country” and “proving that there are opportunities for a good life in the countryside”.

In line with the objectives of Vision-2050 and New Revival Policy, Bulgan Province approved the “Open Bulgan” Program last year and announced that they will implement a policy to support the flow of people who migrated based on their social, economic status and resources. In the fall of last year, the facts about the bullying and harassment of government employees were revealed to the public. Traumatologist G.Vandandorj, who moved to the province, disclosed that he moved to Darkhan-Uul General Hospital because he could not bear the persecution and pressure caused by politics and partisanship in his institution in Bulgan.

O.Tselmeg, who was assigned to the Bulgan police station, also revealed that the management of his organization cut salaries for unknown reasons and discriminated against the officers who made demands, and expressed that he will be moving to
another place.

The soums and provinces, who have been inviting and promising good things to the youth under the guise of supporting the government’s policy, have not been able to create a friendly environment for new arrivals and are not prepared to receive them.

In general, in rural areas, the working conditions are poor, and the enforcement of laws and regulations is low. A citizen who works at the Uyench Soum Governor’s Office of Khovd Province said, “It is good that there is no traffic congestion in the countryside and that you don’t have to spend money on buses, but there are many big and small problems. Due to the lack of manpower, employees have to work overtime because they are close to home and don’t have to worry about staying late. It is common for them to work on weekends. The administrative staff often go to the provinces and cities for meetings and consultations. Bosses take anyone with them, and that person has to obey their word even if there is a problem. Everyone in the small soum knows each other. Therefore, it is difficult to carry out work in accordance with the rules and regulations, and even to make demands. Those of us who are locals and have lived here for many years have such difficulties, but it is even more difficult for the young people who are moving.”

There is a saying that “instead of preparing the milk, it is better to prepare a container”. The concept and main goal of “Rural Revival” cannot be fulfilled without changing the attitude, and basic system of rural areas. The countryside will be developed only by creating a system that is friendly to the new arrivals. If this is not possible, no matter how big the construction is, no matter how many good opportunities are promised, people cannot move to rural areas.

L.Oyun-Erdene’s government announced with great fanfare that the 2024 state budget is entirely focused on supporting urban and rural revitalization. He also underscored that instead of investing in new projects and programs, he is pursuing a policy of supporting and advancing projects that are dragging on for years and putting pressure on the state budget, and contributing to rural and local development. In fact, in order to ensure the balance of urban and rural development, it is more crucial to abolish the old system and create a friendly environment for citizens than to build new buildings and structures.