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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

    Public school teachers to get wage increase in 2017
    Public schools now to be built by Ministry of Public Works
    President Medina cheated?
    President Medina orders Corde closed
    Preparing for the Bicentennial of Rosario Sánchez
    Man run over by Metro train survives
    Trying to get Dominicans out of jail in the Bahamas
    Child murder trial again delayed
    Jail for homicide of American
    US government motivates its citizens to register to vote
    Soberano Awards nominations
    Valentine’s Day shows
    Santo Domingo Carnival

    Public school teachers to get wage increase in 2017
    The government announced yesterday that an agreement was reached between Minister of Education Andrés Navarro and the president of the Dominican Association of Public School Teachers (ADP) Eduardo Hidalgo to increase public school teacher wages. They agreed on a general wage increase this year for teachers. The funds for the increase will come from money allotted to teacher merit incentives that would have been granted after professor assessments were in by fall this year. Instead, the assessments will be carried out this year but the monetary incentives will be applied in 2018.

    A commission was entrusted with reviewing benefits for public school teachers such as the construction of a social clubhouse, housing, pension improvements, health insurance coverage improvements, among others.

    Public schools now to be built by Ministry of Public Works
    The ministries of Education and Public Works School signed an agreement on Monday, 13 February 2017, whereby the construction of public schools will now be the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Works. In the past, construction of the public schools was carried out by the Office of Supervisory Engineers of State Works (OISOE) of the Presidency. 

    In recent years, school construction projects have been plagued by cost overruns, delinquent payment to suppliers and contractors, claims by builders of extortion, and poor quality materials and workmanship, as evidenced by major damage suffered by many of the newly constructed schools during the October and November rainstorms. 

    Signing the agreement for the Ministry of Education was Minister Andrés Navarro and for the Ministry of Public Works, Minister Gonzalo Castillo. OISOE director Francisco Pagan signed for that office.

    Most of the school construction projects undertaken in recent years were built to accommodate the extended school day and day care programs. 

    Government officials said that the new inter-agency school construction agreement seeks to create more efficient, effective and transparent processes for selecting contractors, sourcing materials, overseeing construction sites and managing costs while improving the overall quality of the schools and campuses.  The transfer of school construction authority is based on Presidential Decree 348-16. 

    A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education explained the department would continue to be responsible for purchasing the land where the schools will be built, while the Ministry of Public Works would be responsible for the actual building of the new schools.

    IMF focuses on increasing government fiscal deficit
    The International Monetary Fund team that reviewed the performance and prospects for the Dominican economy reported on 13 February 2017, after concluding its February mission to the Dominican Republic that the fiscal position in the country needs to be “decisively strengthened to maintain sustainability in the face of increasing risks.” The government needs to reduce spending or increase taxes. In recent years, the government has increasingly taken on foreign debt to meet its growing spending and project constructions. 

    The IMF says that the country needs to put in place “ambitious structural reforms to secure better longer-term growth and social outcomes in a fragile external environment.” 

    The mission was led by Aliona Cebotari and visited the country from 31 January to 10 February 2017. The mission met with Central Bank and other government agency officials, think tanks, and the private sector entities, where there were exchanges of views on the country’s economic development and long-term outlook, as well as policy challenges going forward.

    The IMF review establishes that the Dominican economy is in a cyclically strong position, with activity expanding at an average pace of 7% over the past three years.

    In its statement, the IMF says that the economy is operating above potential, while positive supply shocks are muting inflationary pressures and strengthening the external position. Sustained strong growth and prudent policies of the past several years have helped improve social indicators and build up confidence in the Dominican economy.

    The IMF states: 

    “Growth is projected to remain healthy while tapering off towards predicted rates, while inflation is expected to pick up towards targeted levels. Domestic demand will continue to drive growth, buoyed by recovering real incomes, growth in the U.S., and strong investment. Growth is expected to slow towards the predicted rate of around 5% from 2017 onward, as both external and domestic financing conditions tighten. The recovery in fuel prices will push inflation to target levels and will widen the current account moderately during 2017.

    “Risks around this baseline outlook are balanced. Key risks stem from the uncertainty surrounding the economic and policy outlook for the external trading partners, notably the United States, the outlook for oil prices, higher than expected global interest rates and the ensuing dollar appreciation.

    “The fiscal position needs to be decisively strengthened to maintain sustainability in the face of increasing risks. The government has improved the fiscal position in the face of increasing spending pressures, through overall expenditure restraint and a strong revenue administration effort. Nevertheless, large projected deficits for the consolidated public sector (including financial and non-financial public sector) would generate both sustainability and debt affordability pressures, especially in light of the tightening global financing conditions. A strong fiscal adjustment would be needed to secure debt sustainability, with a larger consolidation effort in the near term warranted by the still favorable economic conditions. The consolidation should be underpinned by a comprehensive reform to broaden the very narrow tax base, simplify the tax system and make it more equitable. This should go along with reforms to address the fiscal drag of the electricity sector and increase spending efficiency.

    “Adopting a robust medium-term fiscal framework would ensure that annual fiscal policies are consistent with sustainability objectives. The medium-term fiscal framework should be anchored on a medium-term debt-to-GDP ratio and operationalized through a fiscal rule to deliver the debt target. Integrating fiscal responsibility objectives in the framework could further cement fiscal discipline.

    “The tightening bias of monetary policy is appropriate, and progress towards a more flexible exchange rate framework should continue. Given upside risks to the inflation outlook stemming from global financial conditions, monetary policy is appropriately leaning towards tightening. We welcome the authorities’ commitment to continue to build up reserve buffers in the face of increased uncertainty, with foreign exchange interventions limited to smoothing excessive volatility. Staff strongly supported the authorities’ plans to move towards a progressively more flexible exchange rate, through building up market infrastructure and instruments to facilitate such a transition.

    “Ongoing reforms to strengthen the macro-financial framework will help entrench financial stability. Financial soundness indicators for the banking system remain strong, and the authorities are appropriately focusing on addressing gaps in the regulation and supervision of nonbanks. Completing reforms that will address the gaps identified in the context of the recent Global Forum evaluation on tax transparency and those that could arise in the context of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force of Latin America evaluation on anti- anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism will be important in preserving the integrity of the financial system. Staff supported the monetary authorities’ efforts to strengthen the macro-prudential framework through bolstering capacity to monitor and address systemic risks, further developing stress-testing capacity and preparing financial stability reports.

    “Ambitious structural reforms remain critical to securing better longer-term growth and social outcomes in a fragile external environment. The government’s reform agenda appropriately focuses on improving educational outcomes, boosting housing supply and strengthening social safety nets. At the same time, the dividend from the higher growth has accrued unevenly and significant bottlenecks to higher productivity and longer-term growth remain:

    Ongoing discussions on the electricity pact provide a unique opportunity to address the governance challenges, infrastructure gaps and pricing policies in the electricity sector, one of the major drags on growth.

    Other reforms that would preserve incentives for investment and improve the business environment include strengthened institutions and governance, increased predictability of the tax system, and continued public investment in infrastructure.

    Policies to boost employment—through improved labor markets, graduation from safety nets into labor force, and skill development and retooling through vocational training— would directly support government’s poverty-reduction objectives.

    Social protection could also be strengthened through expanded coverage of social insurance, addressing challenges in the public healthcare system, and policies to encourage formalization.” 

    Was President Medina cheated?
    Landowners in La Romana have complained that President Danilo Medina was cheated when he recently made a surprise visit to Cumayasa in the province, where he was convinced to lend RD$30 million to a hog-producing association that community spokespeople say is not even present in the area. The hog association was presented by a government officer named Martires Castro who requested the government funding, as denounced by Angela María Acosta who is the president of the Frente Agrario Revolucionario y Comunitario Mi Propio Esfuerzo (Farcompe).  

    After the Cumayasa incident, Acosta said that everyone is now seems to be forming associations and pretending they are farmers and ranchers so that they can receive low interest loans via the President.

    It appears that Medina has ordered an investigation by the Special Fund for Agricultural Development (Feda).

    President Medina orders Corde closed
    On Monday, 13 February 2017, President Danilo Medina ordered the dissolution of the Dominican Corporation of State Companies (Corde) and the Commission for the Reform of Public Companies (CREP). The first body was in charge of government enterprises, most of which were privatized or closed down. The second was in charge of assisting the public enterprises in going private. The order was given in Decree 16-17 dated 10 February. 

    At the same time, President Medina dismissed Leoncio Almanzar as director of Corde.

    A commission made up of the legal advisor to the Executive Branch, Flavio Darío Espinal; the director of the Commission on Ethics and Integrity, Lidio Cadet; and the director of the Permanent Commission of Titles, Jose Dantes will supervise the process. The decision of the President followed a recommendation by this same presidential commission that had earlier investigated the sale of government property in the Los Tres Brazos by Corde.

    The decree issued by Medina also stipulated that the sale of land in Los Tres Brazos by Corde to the company Inversiones Fernández Periche be declared null and void as it is said to be illegal. 

    All real estate belonging to Corde will be transferred to the Bienes Nacionales government property agency. President Medina has instructed the Ministry of the Presidency that the property should be developed or used for social projects.

    Corde had been all but forgotten until the media championed the case of the residents in Los Tres Brazos who complained about a private company that had received a concession to secure titles to properties where a government shoe factory had been located. 

    The government ascertained the concession had been granted in an irregular manner and is in the process of nullifying the actions carried out by the company. By Dominican law, residents affected by the Los Tres Brazos case are eligible for definitive title to their properties because of the length of time that these families have occupied their dwellings.

    Preparing for the Bicentennial of Rosario Sánchez
    On Monday 13 February 2017, President Danilo Medina created the National Commission for the Bicentennial Commemoration of the Birth of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez.  Sánchez, who was born on 9 March 2017, is regarded as one of the three founding fathers of the Dominican Republic, along with Juan Pablo Duarte, and Matías Ramón Mella. 

    The commission is chaired by the president of the Permanent Commission of National Anniversaries, Juan Daniel Balcácer. Other members are Administrative Minister of the Presidency, José Ramón Peralta; Defense Minister, Ruben Paulino Then, Education Minister, Andres Navarro and Culture Minister, Pedro Verges.
    The commission also includes the director of the National Archives, Roberto Cassa; the president of the Dominican Academy of History, Mu-Kien Adriana Sang Ben; the president of the Duarte Institute José Joaquín Pérez Saviñón; the rector of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Iván Grullón, along with a representative for private universities and the governor of San Juan de la Maguana.

    The commission will prepare, coordinate, and organize a series of events and festivities to commemorate the bi-centennial of the birth of the founding father.

    Man run over by Metro train survives
    56-year old José Alfredo Payano fainted and fell into the Santo Domingo Metro track at the Mamá Tingó station in Villa Mella in northern Santo Domingo on the morning of Monday, 13 February 2017. He survived even when a Metro train crossed over him. 

    Payano is recovering at the Ney Arias Lora Trauma Hospital where his injury was sutured. He suffered brain trauma, a seven cm injury on the bottom part of his brain and trauma in his right arm all caused by the fall. 

    Others were injured when the happening caused chaos at the station. 62-year old Felipe Moreta Valenzuela suffered injuries when he was trampled by the stampede of people leaving the station. 

    Trying to get Dominicans out of jail in the Bahamas
    The Ministry of Foreign Relations is helping to secure the release of 53 Dominican fishermen who have been in jail in the Bahamas for more than three months.

    Most of the fishermen are from Puerto Plata. What is known is that Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas is holding talks with the Bahamian authorities to free the Dominicans who were arrested at the end of October 2016. 

    Also involved in the negotiations are spokespeople for the Association of Owners of Fishing Boats along with the families of those arrested.

    The 53 Dominican fishermen were arrested by the authorities in the Bahamas when they allegedly illegally entered into Bahamian waters in a boat named Captain Johnniel.

    Child murder trial again delayed
    A Santo Domingo province judge has again rescheduled the trial of those accused of kidnapping and murdering of the 10-year old minor Carla Massiel Cabrera, who disappeared on 25 June 2015 in the Los Garcia sector of Pedro Brand and whose remains were discovered on 16 August 2016. The reason for her death has not yet been revealed. 

    Judge Karen Montoya rescheduled the case as those accused, Juan Cabral Martinez (Chuti) and Dawin Trinidad Infante, were not taken to the court from the jails in San Pedro de Macoris and La Victoria.

    The decision was also taken to delay the trial in order to complete the judicial process that obligates the daughter of the owner of Clínica Integral, Liliana Santana to appear in court. Santana is being sued by the family of the murdered girl. The lawyer of Santana, Luis Rivas has claimed his client is innocent, arguing that at the time of the incident she was recovering from a premature birth and could not have contacted Mr. Trinidad, who has accused Santana of paying him US$3,600 to bury the body of the child.

    Jail for homicide of American
    Three people have been sentenced to jail by a judge in a court in Puerto Plata for the murder and dismemberment of an American citizen. Brent Renault Lewis was murdered on 3 November 2014 in Sosua and his body dismembered and disposed of in various parts of the country.

    Thirty-year old American, Frank Sorichette,  also known as Frankie, was sentenced to 30 years in jail.  Dominican María Geraldine de la Rosa Batista was sentenced to ten years, while Dominican lawyer Eduardo Heinsen was given a five year prison sentence.

    The court heard testimony that Sorichette had murdered and dismembered Lewis with an electric saw and an axe inside the victim’s home in Loma Mironas in Sosua.  Sorichette, together with the other two assailants, were accused of then taking possession of Lewis’ assets.

    Part of the victim’s body was found in Loma Picada, Espaillat province and was identified by a DNA test, but the rest of the remains of Lewis are still missing.

    US government motivates its citizens to register to vote
    The US government is urging US citizens living in the Dominican Republic to register to vote and request their absentee ballots to vote in 2017 in order to ensure the corresponding election office knows where to send ballots. The US Embassy makes the point that several states are also holding gubernatorial or other statewide elections this 2017. 

    The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recommends all overseas US citizens send in a completed Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) early every year. The FPCA is the registration and ballot request form accepted by all states and territories.

    The Embassy says that US citizens can use the FPCA online assistant, complete the fillable PDF version, or pick up a hardcopy version from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo.  

    For more information on the Federal Voting Assistance Program or help with the absentee voting process please go to or call FVAP at 703-588-1584 (toll free 1-800-438-VOTE or DSN 425-1584) or email or write to 

    Soberano Awards nominations
    The awards ceremony for the Premios Soberano, the most important showbusiness event in the Dominican Republic, is set for 28 March 2017. The awards are sponsored by the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, the brewery of Presidente beer. 

    On Monday, 13 February 2017, the organizers of the event, the Association of Show Business Writers (Acroarte), released the list of all 233 nominees across 45 categories. 

    See all nominations at:

    Valentine’s Day shows
    Restaurants and night spots nationwide will be celebrating St. Valentine’s Day starting from Tuesday, 14 February 2017 through the weekend. For instance, Puerto Rican Tony Dize is performing at Hard Rock Live at Blue Mall; Pavel Núñez is at Teatro La Fiesta in the Hotel Jaragua; Anthony Ríos is at Neptuno Restaurant in Boca Chica; Rafa Rosario is performing his merengue with singers Jacqueline Estévez, Sergio Vargas, Eddy Herrera at Restaurante Millo, Casa de Teatro is presenting a night of song and comedy at their amphitheater with Aleja Johnson, Fernando Pucheu, Salime Caram, Entero and Errpidio. Hotel Billini in the Colonial City is offering a special dinner at their rooftop restaurant. Michel Camilo is at the National Theater where he will offer a piano jazz concert. Braulio García is singing to romantics at the Barceló Santo Domingo. 
    For information on upcoming events:

    Santo Domingo Carnival
    The Santo Domingo Mayor David Collado announced the celebration of the Santo Domingo Carnival for Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 February. The city carnival which has a new format that includes the traditional parades of Carnival characters and two live music shows with important merengue, salsa and urban music artists. 

    For information on upcoming events:

    Archived News stories:

    Archived Travel News stories:
    Last edited by Dolores; 02-15-2017 at 09:19 AM.


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