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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Friday, 24 February 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Friday, 24 February 2017

    DR1 breaks for Independence Day holiday
    Donald Guerrero: some tax incentives will be cut
    Film industry protests losing tax incentives
    Peralta says no tax incentive cuts for free zones
    Medics protest exclusion from health providers
    Government moves on Electricity Pact 
    Haiti now has a prime minister
    Air Europa CEO is Dominican
    New book on US military intervention
    US revokes visa to three judges in drugs case
    Truck crashes a gas station
    Three bodies recovered in Miches boating accident
    French film festival at Funglode
    Comedy at the National Theater

    DR1 breaks for Independence Day holiday
    The DR1 Daily News will not be updated as usual on Monday, 27 February 2017, a national holiday. Headline news over the weekend and Independence Day will be compiled for the Tuesday, 28 February issue. President Danilo Medina is scheduled to present the Annual Report or state of the nation rendition from Congress at 10am on Monday. For breaking news and comments, see the DR1 Forums that are updated 24/7.

    Donald Guerrero: some tax incentives will be cut
    Hacienda Minister Donald Guerrero in a talk with economic editors on Monday, 20 February 2017, had commented on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund for the Medina government to implement fiscal adjustments in order to maintain the present robust economy. 

    As reported in Diario Libre, Guerrero remarked that the government is contemplating fiscal adjustments that would focus on the elimination of tax exemptions and improvements in the efficiency of tax collections.

    “We do not dismiss the IMF's remarks. We share the view that the country needs to strengthen its tax base. The difference we have with the position of the IMF is that we know that once the construction of the Punta Catalina plant is completed, resources that during the last years have been transferred for its construction, that have reached 1% of the GDP, will then be available to strengthen the government’s fiscal capacity. 

    "It would be irresponsible on our part to sit down to negotiate a Fiscal Pact to add taxes if we are not able to administer them," said the minister of finance.

    During the meeting with the economic press, Guerrero said that the government contemplates changes in fiscal exemptions that he said today are 6.4% of GDP. He said many of the tax incentives have already served their purpose. He specifically mentioned Films Incentives Law 108-10. He said the intention is to maintain the same tax levels and rules, while increasing the government ability to monitor tax revenues to ensure that exemptions are granted where they correspond.

    He also mentioned the elimination of the capacity to issue shares to holders that he described as a tax loophole, and an element he said needs to disappear in the Dominican Republic. 

    Furthermore he mentioned to increase tax revenues, the government plans to implement a central database to record all operations of betting shops and gambling. 

    He said he is confident these controls would allow a reduction of the fiscal debt to 2.3% of GDP this year that would be acceptable. He does not believe the foreign debt taken on by the country is unsustainable. As reported in Diario Libre, on the contrary, he described the Dominican Republic’s debt position as “worthy of envy.” 

    Guerrero reported that at the end of last year non-financial public sector debt (SPNF) stood at US$26,757.3 million, equivalent to 37.4% of GDP. He added that only 18.7% of the total debt has a variable interest rate, so he dismissed claims that the interest rate increases reportedly planned by the US Federal Reserve for this year will generate too much pressure on the Dominican debt service. 

    Guerrero told the press that the government has not decided how to utilize the Odebrecht agreement that sought compensation for the US$92 million in bribes paid to secure contract work. Odebrecht agreed to a US$184 million payment over eight years.

    In response to Guerrero’s statements, the president of the National Business Council, Pedro Brache observed that the public debt is and will always be a concern until such time when the country generates enough revenue to meet its financial commitments - then and only then, will the level of foreign debt be considered to be sustainable. 

    The president of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), Eugene Rault Grullón disputed the 37% public debt figure mentioned by Guerrero and said that this is more than 50% when the financial public debt sector is included. He observed in the short term the public debt may be sustainable, but not so in the medium or long term. He called for a ceiling to the accumulation of public debt, “because we and our children will end up paying this.” He said that the idea that the public foreign debt is “worthy of envy” is a perception of Guerrero, but for ANJE it is not worthy of envy.

    Film industry protests losing tax incentives
    The film industry expressed their concern that the National Film Industry Law would be revised. In an interview published in the Diario Libre, Hacienda Minister Donald Guerrero said that tax exemptions would be revised, including several that he says have served their purpose, mentioning by name Film Industry Promotion Law 108-10. 

    The sector says they have only benefited from 0.2% of the tax exemptions, compared to 27.8% for free zones, 14.5% for the energy sector; 12.2% for education, 7.3% government contractors and concessions; 3.5% industrial sector; NGO’s 2.6%, online purchases 2.5%, tourism 1.9%, among others.

    Peralta says no tax incentive cuts for free zones
    Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta assured free zone companies that the government will not cut their incentives nor change the rules of the game. In a meeting on Tuesday, 21 February 2017, Peralta said no measures would be taken to limit the competitiveness of free zone companies. He said the Medina government, on the contrary, has intentions to continue to support free zone companies so this sector can be more competitive and create a more jobs over the coming years. 

    Peralta met in Santiago with the directors of the Santiago Free Zone Corporation, the largest free zone center in the country. Present were businessmen Aquiles Bermúdez, José Clase, Luis José Bonilla, Donald Dyer, Luis Nilo, Goby Moya,  Miguel Lama; Carlos Guillermo Núñez, president of the Asociación de Comerciantes e Industriales de Santiago (ACIS), Félix García, Juan José Batlle and Luis José Bonilla, president of the Asociación de Zona Franca; and Benito Ferreira, rector of the ISA University. Also present were Luisa Fernández, executive director of the Council for Export Free Zones (CNZFE), among others. 

    “The government is your ally and is in the best disposition to collaborate. The idea is to achieve competitiveness goals and allow your companies to be successful and meet the challenges in the present global economy,” stated Peralta. 

    He said he would take to President Medina the request that the government purchase military and police footwear and uniforms from the free zone industries.

    Medics protest exclusion from health providers
    Physicians who offer their services to private clinics marched to the Presidential Palace under the banner of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD). The professionals are protesting that health providers (ARS) are applying administrative measures that negatively impact them professionally. The president of the CMD, Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, headed the march of the physicians. 

    The physicians accuse the ARS of excluding several illnesses that should be covered by medical insurance. They also complain ARS-affiliated physicians’ billing rates and fees have not been revised in 10 years. 

    The physicians also accuse the ARS of barring new medical doctors from registering in the medical plans. They are demanding that the ARSs allow another 15,000 physicians to be listed as authorized healthcare providers so patients with medical insurance plans can have access to their services.

    The ARS are regulated by the Superintendence of Health (SISALRIL). 

    Commenting on the demands, the executive director of the National Health System (SDNS), Dr. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro says he favors that affiliates to the ARS health plans be able to freely choose their providers -- physicians, clinics and hospitals. The exception would only be government employees whose practices fall under a different law. 

    He also favors changes in the system so that all physicians with exequaturs authorized by the government to practice in the Dominican Republic and certified by the different medical specialty societies be given a code and become eligible to offer services to those with medical insurance coverage.  Rodríguez Monegro claims that these changes would benefit young new doctors who, at present, are excluded from the medical insurance system. 

    Rodríguez Monegro spoke during an interview with Julio Hazim on Revista 110 on Channel 26. 

    Furthermore, Rodríguez Monegro recommended the government enter into agreements with private medical facilities and pay for these expanded medical services. He said that covering these expanding medical services in private clinics would allow the government to offer better services to patients and create a more efficient healthcare system without having to incur in major investments to install the technologies.

    Government moves on Electricity Pact 
    In 2012, National Development Strategy Law 1-12 ordered that in no less than a year, the private and public sectors must reach a National Electricity Pact that would resolve the structural crisis of the electricity sector and put in place the regulatory and institutional framework to attract needed investment to meet the energy demands for national growth and development. More than four years later, the Medina administration has failed to enact this provision in Law 1-12.  

    Medina government can only point to the construction of the Punta Catalina coal-fired energy facility by a consortium of firms led by the Brazilian company Odebrecht as evidence of investing in the improvement of the electricity service.  

    On Wednesday, 22 February 2017, the Minister of Economy, Isidoro Santana said talks concerning the Electricity Pact would resume under the Economic and Social Council (CES). He is optimistic an agreement will be reached. Santana blamed the delays on disagreements between participants in the talks on a wide range of issues, such as rates, loss reduction and government participation in power generation and distribution.

    Haiti now has a prime minister
    Newly elected Haiti President Jovenel Moise has named gastroenterologist Jack Guy Lafontant his Prime Minister. Lafontant, 56, is a professor at the State University of Haiti (UEH) and the University of Notre Dame of Haiti (UNDH).  He replaces Enex Jean-Charles who resigned to allow the new head of state to consult with legislators for his successor, as stipulated in the Constitution of Haiti. As reported, he is a member of the American College of Gastroenterology and not a well-known political figure, but rather is a personal friend of the new head of government. 

    The appointment needs to be confirmed by the Haitian congress. Lafontant next would need to work to structure the government.

    Air Europa CEO is Dominican
    The CEO of Air Europa (a division of Globalia), a leader in air travel to Europe from the Dominican Republic, swore in the Dominican Juan Juan José Hidalgo Acera (Pepe Hidalgo) as its CEO on Thursday, 23 February 2017. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Interior and Police. 

    A Spanish citizen, Hidalgo Acera is a major shareholder in companies with investments totaling more than US$400 million in the Dominican Republic.  He began doing business in this country in 1986. Globalia owns six hotels in the Dominican Republic with a total of 3,000 rooms located in Puerto Plata, Boca Chica, Bayahibe and Punta Cana.

    In addition, the company has several large real estate holdings.

    Hildago Acera is also an honorary consul for the Dominican Republic in Palma de Mallorca. 

    New book on US military intervention from 1916-24
    Dr. Herbert Stern has compiled historic documents on the hearings of the commission of US senators that visited the Dominican Republic early last century to investigate the abuses committed by the US military to Dominican citizens. The documents were gathered for the book “Investigaciones sobre la ocupacion y administracion de Haiti y Santo Domingo”. 

    US revokes visas to three judges in drug case
    The Listín Diario reports a credible source has told it that the US Consulate has revoked the US visas of three judges of the Court of Appeals of the Province of Santo Domingo that ruled in favor Winston Rizik and his brother Nelson Rizkik Delgado, and ordered their release and suspension of their prison sentences. Rizik and Rizik Delgado had been sentenced to prison for 10 years and 5 years, respectively, after being accused of drug trafficking and asset laundering. 

    The judges affected by the visa cancellations are Saulo Ysabel Díaz, Manuel del Socorro Pérez García and Rosaly Yovianka Stefani Brito, who were not available for comment, as reported by Listin Diario. One of the the three judges, Saulo Ysabel Díaz, had issued a dissident opinion. 

    The US Consulate had no comment concerning the cancelled visas. 

    Listin Diario reported that while the order for the release of the individuals was being been processed, they were being held at the Centro de Correccion y Rehabilitación El Pinito in La Vega. The sentence ordering them to jail had been issued in Monte Plata jail on 9 March 2016. 

    Winston Rizik is classified as a fugitive by the US Marshals. El Dia reported that Rizik Rodríguez escaped from a Florida jail where he had been sentenced to eight years in jail for drug trafficking. In February 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice in the Dominican Republic rejected his extradition and instead ordered that seized assets be returned to him. 

    El Día reports that US mission officials interviewed the judges prior to the revoking of their visas.

    Truck crashes a gas station
    A truck loaded with construction rebar crashed into a Total gas station on Av. Prolongación 27 de Febrero, in western Santo Domingo on the afternoon of Thursday, 23 February 2017. The ensuing fire caused several injuries and badly damaged the fire station and around 15 vehicles. 

    Jose Antonio Segura Feliz, chief of the Santo Domingo West Firefighters, said that 4 SUVs, 2 freight trucks, three cars, six motorcycles and the gas station itself were seriously damaged. He said to put out the blaze, eight units from the National District and Villa Linda were employed. The fire was brought under control a short time after the firetrucks arrived. 

    The injured were assisted by 911 Emergency System that took these to the Marcelino Velez Public Hospital in Herrera. Four people were injured at the gas station, including two seriously burned -- Telvis Altagracia Santos and Jairo Benito. Benito was transferred to the burn unit at the Ney Arias Hospital.  

    V Energy, operator of Total gas stations in the country, in a press release, confirmed the accident happened at their Renacimiento station. The company said the fire did not cause a fuel spillage, nor are environmental damages reported.

    The fire was caused by a truck that impacted a vehicle that crashed into others that were being refueled, generating the fire that spread throughout the gas station requiring the intervention of the firefighters. 

    7 Dias reported that the truck driver blamed the accident, which occurred at 2:15 PM, on brake failure.

    Three bodies recovered in Miches boating accident
    Three survivors, the remains of a 17-year old girl, identified as Walkiria Matías Tapia, Josefina Inoa and Reinaldo Mejía, and another 14 passengers still reported as missing are the latest news as of Thursday afternoon of the boating accident that occurred off the coast of Miches on Tuesday, 14 February 2017. 

    The 19 year-old sister of Matías Tapia, who is believed to have been onboard the ill-fated boat, is one of those reported missing. The father of the two young women arrived at the public hospital in Miches with two coffins, adding to the confusion surrounding the search and rescue mission. 

    The boat was overturned and sank two nautical miles off the coast. 

    Three survivors David Bonilla, Fernando Espiritusanto and Noemi Alvarez are under investigation by the M-2 intelligence unit of the Armada. They said the missing persons had swum to the coast and speculated several must have made it to land. The Armada units are combing the coastal waters to find survivors. 

    Augusto Lizardo, spokesman for the Armada, warned future illegal boat trippers to take note that the organizers of the trips are rarely found aboard the boats themselves because they know of the high risks. 

    French film festival at Funglode
    The Fundación Global, Alliance Francaise in Santo Domingo, the Film Agency of the Dominican Republic (DGCine), and the French Embassy are presenting from Thursday, 23 February to Saturday, 25 February 2017, the fourth edition of the French Film Series, this year with comedies and romantic films. Admission is free, but those interested in reserving a seat should call 809 685-9966 ext 2110. 

    The films are: 
    Fidelio l’Odyssee D’Alice (23 February 2017 at 7pm)
    Conte D’Ete (24 February at 4pm)
    Les Chansons D’Amour (24 February at 7pm)
    Peau D’Ane (25 February at 4pm)
    Pas Son Genre (25 February at 7pm)

    Comedy at the National Theater
    “Qué lío con las redes” is a contemporary comedy on Dominicans and social media to be staged at the National Theater’s Sala Ravelo hall from Thursday, 2 March 2017 to Sunday. 8:30pm. Tickets for sale at the National Theater box office and online at Uepa Tickets. Starring in the comedy are Pepe Sierra, Mabel Henríquez, Helen Perdomo and Manolo Ozuna. 

    For information on upcoming events:

    Archived News stories:

    Archived Travel News stories:
    Last edited by Dolores; 02-24-2017 at 08:43 AM.

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