Foreign Minister focuses on points where US-DR can improve relationship
Small business program gets help from Japan
Unsustainable public debt boosts Dominican economy
Servio Tulio Castaños criticizes Punta Catalina tender
Small merchants accuse Agriculture Minister of favoritism in DR-CAFTA import permits
Diandino Peña argues his advisors told him not to declare
AES Andres – natural gas hub for Greater Caribbean
Pan American and NORCECA Modern Pentathlon Championships in Santo Domingo 
Sting to perform at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Ed Calle to perform at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
Danny Rivera at Jaragua’s Teatro La Fiesta



Foreign Minister focuses on points where US-DR can improve relationship
Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas called for a better balance in relations between the United States and the Dominican Republic. He spoke at the Center for Latin American Studies at the Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. as part of Dominican Week USA events. 

“We consider that our common work platform calls for changes in the relationship to achieve greater balance among equal partners, based on mutual respect,” Vargas said in his talk, as shared in a Ministry of Foreign Relations press release. 

Vargas Maldonado forthrightly spoke of frictions between the two countries in regards to the Dominican Republic as a bridge for drug and human trafficking.  Vargas also mentioned the difference of opinion on human rights criteria in the Dominican Republic’s migratory policies. 

Vargas said that there should be recognition that common fundamental values should make space for true dialogue reflecting the maturity of the relationship. “We would like, for example, that the United States use the corresponding diplomatic channels to avoid public judgments that do not adequately reflect the complexity of the cases and can be damaging to the reputation of the country,” he stated.

He called for more cooperation to address drug trafficking so that both nations can achieve the common goal of reducing the use of illegal drugs in both nations. Vargas stressed that there needs to be shared responsibility to tackle the drug problem.

The Dominican Republic should export more to the United States, with which it maintains a large trade deficit. The United States is the leading trade partner of the Dominican Republic. The DR is the largest importer of US goods in the Central American and Caribbean region, and the 8th largest in the Western Hemisphere. Approximately two million Dominicans live in the Unites States and an estimated 250,000 US citizens live in the Dominican Republic. The US is the main source of visitors to the Dominican Republic, direct foreign investment and remittances.

Vargas Maldonado took advantage of his visit to Georgetown University to sign several agreements. He also signed agreements to promote exchanges with George Washington University. 

http://eldia.com.do/la-republica-dom...ion-con-ee-uu/
http://www.mirex.gob.do/medios/notic...estados-unidos


Small business program gets help from Japan
The ministries of Industry & Commerce (MICM), Economy, Infotep and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) announced the start of a program to improve the quality and productivity of small and medium-sized companies in the Dominican Republic. 

The program would be unveiled in Santo Domingo and in 14 provinces in the northern region of the country, benefiting 20 companies. A group of 10 would travel to Costa Rica where they would be trained to be trainers to multiply the program. 

https://www.diariolibre.com/economia...ymes-GF7052228


Unsustainable public debt boosts Dominican economy
Five economists met for the Grupo de Comunicaciones Corripio luncheon on Wednesday, 10 May 2017, and acknowledged the impressive growth of the Dominican economy. However, they observed the growth of the economy is based on an unsustainable amount of debt being taken on by the Medina administration. The economists Ernesto Selman, Jacqueline Mora, Pedro Silverio Alvarez, Jose Luis de Ramón and Miguel Ceara Hatton made the remarks. 

Economist Jacqueline Mora said that while the economy grew 5.2% in the first half of the year, most of the country’s economic activities grew very little. She said the fiscal deficit is at 4% of the GDP, and the foreign debt is at 50% of the GDP. She criticized that the Central Bank is using its financial certificates to conduct de facto monetary policy, creating more debt and distorting the interest rates on the market. She said the Central Bank began to issue certificates to cover the banking deficit of 2003, and now is using these certificates to take money out of the economy and that is why the quasi-fiscal deficit has ballooned to the current level of US$11 billion. 

Economist Pedro Silverio observed that the projection is that the public debt will be at 53% of GDP before 2020. “This highlights the unsustainability of the debt in the first quarter of the year with interest rates of almost 10% above the economic growth,” said Silverio, as quoted in El Dia.

Miguel Ceara Hatton observed that as of March 2017, the public debt had increased to US$10.2 billion, or about US$203-US$204 million a month. The average interest rate is 8 to 9%, that is 4.2-4.3 of the GDP. Ceara said the problem with the debt is that every time we have to use money that could be used to stimulate development and generate revenue to cover current government expenditures. 

The government is directing 21-22% of its revenues to pay interest on public debt, said economist Jose Luis de Ramon, director of Deloitte Dominican Republic. “The economy has taken on this high amount of debt to keep up all the country’s economic growth, but we are reaching a level of debt that is not sustainable.” He said the economy of the country has expanded, but it has been at the cost of public indebtedness that is fused to finance consumption. 

Ernesto Selman of the Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Strategies (Crees) says that public spending has more than doubled over the past 20 years. Meanwhile, exports have been dropping since 2010 and savings of workers in pension plans have been used to purchase debt titles. 

The economists concurred that to resolve the fiscal deficit problem the government will need to reduce spending or continue increasing taxes through a fiscal pact. But Pedro Silverio Alvarez, vice academic rector at the PUCMM university, observed that the government will have difficulty negotiating the pact unless its shows a clear intent conduct its finances in transparent fashion, with proper rules for ethics in place and an unwavering commitment to penalize corruption. Silverio said that the legitimacy of the government has been compromised by the Odebrecht bribes scandal. He observed the government needs to demonstrate its commitment to put in place new rules of ethics and be willing to penalize corruption,” he said. 

Ceara Hatton said it will be difficult to place one more cent in the hands of the government in the present conditions. 

Answering to the economists, Yván Rodríguez, deputy vice minister of the Ministry of Economy, defended the present public debt levels. He said at their present level the debt does not run the risk of being unsustainable because the economy has a good level of generation of hard currency through tourism, remittances and direct foreign investment, growing exports, a banking system with an 18% solvency, and a robust growth of the GDP.  

http://eldia.com.do/la-economia-crec...-insostenible/
http://www.listindiario.com/economia...sostenibilidad
To add to economists story:
http://elnacional.com.do/video-econo...-fiscal-en-rd/


Servio Tulio Castaños criticizes Punta Catalina tender
The executive vice president of the Foundation for Justice and Institutionalism (Finjus), Servio Tulio Castaños Guzmán, became the talk of the town when on Wednesday, 10 May 2017, he went public on the El Despertador morning TV talk show (Grupo SIN) to criticize the findings regarding the Punta Catalina coal-fired thermoelectric central. The Punta Catalina central is under construction by Odebrecht. Knowledgeable experts have speculated the project was overpriced and the difference used by the Medina government to finance President Danilo Medina’s bid to run for reelection in 2016 that required an change of the Constitution. 

Castaños is part of a commission handpicked by the President to inquire into the legalities of the Punta Catalina power plant. The commission was named parallel to inquiries being made by the Attorney General into Odebrecht works in the Dominican Republic, following the disclosure of New York City court documents that revealed that Odebrecht had admitted to paying US$92 million in bribes to secure contract work in the Dominican Republic. 

Speaking during the El Despertador TV program, Castaños stated: “There are things there that at the end of the day, the Public Ministry is going to have to investigate.” He observed that Punta Catalina was the only Odebrecht project contracted from 2012 to 2014. He explained that the members of the tender commission for the plant “did not know about that, so they hired Stanley Consulting.” He criticized the involvement of Stanley Consulting consultants in tender commission roles. “I am going to tell all that I saw, independently of the opinion of the commission,” he observed. He expects the commission report to be ready in a month. 

Castaños said he was not consulted when he was named to the commission. He said the inquiries they have been making are all taped, so they cannot be altered. 

Other members of the commission are Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado, reverend Jorge Alberto Reynoso Cabrera, the president of CONEP Pedro Brache; businessman Jose Luis Corripio, union labor Gabriel del Rio Doñé, and former executive vice presidents of the CDEEE, Celso Marranzini and Cesar Sanchez. Also economist Jaime Aristy Escuder and Persio Maldonado, president of the Dominican Society of Daily Newspapers. 

http://noticiassin.com/2017/05/que-p...unta-catalina/
https://www.diariolibre.com/noticias...ntas-YY7054414


Small merchants accuse Agriculture Minister of favoritism in DR-CAFTA import permits
The president of the Federation of Merchants (Fenameco), Roberto Ventura, accuses the Minister of Agriculture Angel Estevez of granting import permits to monopolies. He said the merchants may decide to picket the Presidential Palace in protest, as reported in MetroRD.  

He said he is speaking out about the Estevez’s alleged practice to highlight to the public why products that are arriving to the nation’s markets are so expensive. Ventura said the high prices are a result of policies coming from the Ministry of Agriculture work against the poor. 

“We are denouncing that Agriculture Minister Ángel Estevez is authorizing the granting of import permits to monopolies that are hoarding products against the interests of consumers and affecting more than 10,000 warehouses, stores and supermarkets nationwide.

He observed a pound of beans now costs between RD$55 and RD$60. Ventura said that when members of his small merchant association were authorized to import products, a pound of beans sold for RD$35 to RD$40. He accused the monopolies of hoarding the products. He said many small stores have had to buy the goods from the black market. 

Ventura said Fenameco has requested meetings with government authorities and has sent numerous emails to agencies and has yet to hear back from any government official.  “Consumer’s money is not being stretched because of bad government policies,” he said calling for President Danilo Medina to intervene. Ventura complained that there is unfair competition and permits that should be going to them to sell beans in Gualey, Manoguayabo, and Ensanche Altagracia are being granted to others.

In an earlier visit to Acento news portal, Ventura and Fenameco official Julio Cesar Lopez called for the government to follow the rules for assigning farm imports under the DR-CAFTA trade agreement. “We are requesting President Danilo Medina investigate the Office for Trade and Farm Agreement (OTCA) and prevent large companies form controlling the importation of DR-CAFTA products, Ventura told Acento. 

https://www.metrord.do/do/noticias/2...onopolico.html
http://acento.com.do/2016/economia/8...ctos-dr-cafta/


Diandino Peña argues his advisors told him not to declare
The builder of the Santo Domingo Metro, engineer Diandino Peña has responded on El Sol de la Mañana radio talk show to accusations that he did not declare the full value of his wealth in the required statement of worth, while serving as a government official. In her Monday, 8 May 2017, TV program, investigative journalist Alicia Ortega presented evidence of the wealth of billionaire’s Diandino Peña that was not reported.

In his defense, Peña said assets that do not appear in his financial statement were withheld following the advice from his financial consultants who assured Peña that these specific assets were exempt from reporting requirements. 

Peña said that has handled the disclosure of the assets of his 22 companies in a legal and transparent manner. He said anyone who has evidence that this is not so should go to the proper authorities and formally submit proof of their accusations.  He argued he has fulfilled the legal requirements for disclosure of his earnings and assets. Peña said evidently there is interest in establishing ties between what he described as funds for his business projects and the metro project. 

He said all his companies are registered and are tax-abiding firms. 
He called for the Audit Chamber to carry out an audit of the three stages of the Santo Domingo Metro. 

http://elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=534593
http://www.7dias.com.do/portada/2017...-trabajo.html#


AES Andres – natural gas hub for Greater Caribbean
AES Dominicana announced it has signed a contract with Barbados National Oil Company Limited for exports from the AES Andres terminal in the Dominican Republic. Edwin de los Santos, president of AES Dominicana, made the announcement. He said the contract is a landmark deal for the positioning of the country as the most geographically strategic distribution center for the Greater Caribbean. He said the agreement is aligned with the growth strategy based on public-private colaborations for successful business, especially in the energy sector. 

https://www.diariolibre.com/economia...ited-DB7056072


Pan American and NORCECA Modern Pentathlon Championships in Santo Domingo 
More than 80 athletes from 18 countries are coming for the Pan American and NORCECA Modern Pentathlon Senior Championships that begin in Santo Domingo on 8 June 2017 and continue through 11 June. 

Athletes will compete in fencing, 200m freestyle, riding on a show jumping course with 12 obstacles and 15 jumps, 3,200m run, stopping to shoot and hit the target five times from 10 meters distance before each 800m leg, repeated four times. 

The event is organized by the Dominican Modern Pentathlon Federation. 

https://www.uipmworld.org/event/pan-...-championships


Sting to perform at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Sting, formerly of Britain’s The Police rock group, will visit the Dominican Republic for a third time as part of this “57th & 9th Tour”. The many times Grammy-award winning singer will perform at the Fillmore hall of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana on 13 May 2017. He will be accompanied by guitarists Dominic Miller and Rufus Miller, Josh Freese (drums). He will be performing new works in his latest album, first of the pop genre.  

Tickets are for sale at http://www.tuboleta.com.do

http://www.sting.com/tour/date/id/3099


Ed Calle to perform at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
Venezuelan jazz musician Ed Calle will perform together with Sly de Moya Quartet at the Fiesta Sunset Jazz on Friday, 19 May 2017 as of 8:30pm at the penthouse nightclub of the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. 

Calle is the 2015 Latin Grammy Award Winner for Best Instrumental Album and 5X Grammy nominee. Calle is a renowned musician, composer, orchestrator, scholar, professor, and civic leader. Throughout his legendary career, Calle has become one of the most recorded saxophonists in history appearing on more than 1,200 albums, almost 9,000 singles, and countless television and movie soundtracks with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Celia Cruz to Sylvester Stallone and Andy Garcia. 


Danny Rivera at Jaragua’s Teatro La Fiesta
Puerto Rican-Dominican singer, Danny Rivera is presenting his "Para toda la vida” concert at the Teatro La Fiesta of the Hotel Jaragua Renaissance on Saturday, 27 May 2017. The concert is dedicated to mothers in the Dominican Republic, on occasion of the Sunday, 28 May celebration of Mother’s Day. The concert is a production by Amaury Sánchez. Rivera is accompanied by musicians Guarionex Aquino, Sandy Gabriel, Federico Méndez, Ezequiel Francisco, among others. Special guests of the evening include Frank Ceara and Diomary La Mala. 

Enjoy Rivera’s best hits on the evening of the concert: 
“Mujer abre tu ventana”, “Tú”, “Cada vez otra vez”, “No hay distancia para nuestro amor”, “Amada amante”, “Silencio”, “Alfonsina” y “Tú vives en mi pensamiento”, among many others. Tickets are: RD$2,000, RD$2,500, RD$3,000 and RD$4,000.