Daily News - Friday, 17 May 2013 (Archived Daily News)
- US Ambassador honored
- New framework for Police
- Government increases tax collections
- Dominican Institute for Quality (Indocal) launched
- DR owes the most to Venezuela
- Government tests for damage caused by Barrick
- Academy of Sciences refutes statements by Xstrata Falcondo
- Housing for lower middle class families
- Crackdown on ring that exploited Haitian children
- Metro halted by power failure
- Comedy at Palacio de Bellas Artes
US Ambassador honored
(Image courtesy of presidencia.gov.do)
US Ambassador honored
President Danilo Medina decorated outgoing United States Ambassador Raul Humberto Yzaguirre with the order of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella in the Great Cross of Silver at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Santo Domingo yesterday, Thursday 16 May.
Ambassador Yzaguirre resigned the post for health reasons on 7 April, and will be leaving at the end of May. He presented credentials on 18 November 2010. Daniel L. Foote is the Charge d'Affaires until the arrival of Yzaguirre's successor.
New framework for Police
President Danilo Medina sent a bill on the framework for the National Police to the Senate on Thursday, 16 May. The bill sent by the Executive Branch establishes the scope and reach of the police and the guiding principles for its performance in line with the Constitution.
The bill is being sent as part of the new Comprehensive Public Security Plan under implementation by the Medina administration.
The new police organization seeks to strengthen the areas of crime prevention and investigation.
Government increases tax collections
The Department of Taxes (DGII) reports an increase of 21.7% in tax collections during the first quarter of this year. This means the government has received an additional RD$17.4 billion compared to the same period last year. While in April 2012 revenue totaled RD$80.1 billion, it was reported at RD$97.5 billion in April 2013. The DGII reported 27% growth in tax collections in April, representing an absolute increase of RD$6.4 billion compared to the same period in 2012, for RD$29.45 billion, mainly the result of the tax increase introduced by the Medina administration in December 2012 with most increases applied after January 2013. The DGII reports that tax collections were 110.6% greater than estimated, or RD$2.8 billion more than established in the 2013 National Budget.
Dominican Institute for Quality (Indocal) launched
Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo has announced the opening of a new government office dedicated to promoting quality production. The Dominican Institute for Quality (Indocal) replaces the former Department of Standards and Quality Systems (Digenor).
Indocal was created in Law 166-12 and will be responsible for regulating quality in the production of goods and services. Minister Del Castillo says that industries and small business need to comply with the requirements of today's globalized markets. Manuel Guerrero, the director of Indocal, invited all sectors to participate in efforts to improve quality in the Dominican Republic.
For the occasion the government organized a first International Symposium on Quality with the theme "Functional Quality Infrastructure" that took place on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May at the Hotel Embajador in Santo Domingo, attended by 400 representatives from the DR and 18 other countries. Germany was the guest country, and was represented by the Institute of Metrology (PTB) that shared experiences on metrology, normalization, accreditation, evaluation and tests.
DR owes the most to Venezuela
The Dominican government debt to Venezuela for petrol purchases under the PetroCaribe agreement makes up 23.3% of the country's foreign debt of US$13.97 billion as of April 2013, according to a report in Listin Diario. The country owes Venezuela, the country's main bilateral debtor US$3.3 billion, of which PetroCaribe debt makes up more than 98%.
Since 2009, the public debt has increased by 65.9% from US$13.25 billion to US$21.98 billion, or 36% of the GDP, estimated at US$60.23 billion.
The domestic debt is US$8.01 billion, or 36.5%.
According to the General Department of Public Credit, the Central Government debt increased from US$8.2 billion in 2009 to US$13.97 billion.
The domestic debt increased from US$5.03 billion in 2009 to US$8.01 billion in March 2013, or 59% in the past four years. In 2012 alone, the last year of the Fernandez administration and an electoral year, the foreign debt increased by 28.1%.
As of April 2013, the country owed multilateral organizations US$4.29 billion, or 30.7% of the total foreign debt. Most is owed to the Inter-American Development Bank (52%), World Bank (20.9%), the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) 3.1% and the International Monetary Fund (5.4%). Bilateral debt represents 42.5% of the debt, with US$5.93 billion. Foreign debt to private debtors was US$3.73 billion, or 26.7%. The Dominican Republic's leading foreign debtors for bilateral debt are Venezuela, Brazil, the United States, Spain and Japan, with 92.9% of the borrowing by the government.
Government tests for damage caused by Barrick
The Ministry of Public Health is studying the damage to public health and the environment caused by the operations of the Barrick Pueblo Viejo mine. Roberto Berroa, who is in charge of environmental public health at the Ministry of Public Health said that studies are being conducted in four communities in the province of Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui) where the mine is located. The effects on the health of 600 families living in Los Cacaos, El Naranjo, Las Lagunas and La Pinita are being analyzed and the environment is being evaluated. Water from the rivers, used by local inhabitants, animals and farms, is being tested and the results will be presented to President Danilo Medina. Public Health will present a report to the President on the damage to health, the environment, farm production and cattle-ranching caused by the mining company in these areas in its first year of operation, said Berroa, as reported in El Dia.
Academy of Sciences refutes statements by Xstrata Falcondo
The Dominican Republic Academy of Sciences says that the proposed mining of Loma Miranda in La Vega is unviable. Academy representatives rejected Xstrata Falcondo's pledge to protect the environment and reforest the area afterwards in the proposed mining area. The Academy referred to the company's track record of failing to recover other areas that had been mined in Monsenor Nouel province, as reported in Hoy. The Academy says that the proposed project is unsustainable from the economic, environmental and water resources points of view.
Speaking for the Academy, president Milciades Mejia said that the ecological resources in the mountains are the main reason for creating a protected area there.
Mejia refuted Falcondo's claim that the company had reforested 51% of the areas mined in the hills of La Peguera, Ortega, Caribe and Ponton in La Vega and Monsenor Nouel for over 40 years.
Housing for lower middle class families
Constructora Bisono has announced plans to build 5,000 housing units for lower-income middle class families in San Isidro, Santo Domingo East, near the Dominican Air Force base. Rafael Vitelio Bisono (Tato) representing the Bisono construction company made the announcement after a meeting with Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo. The government will be contributing the land where the homes will be built. Bisono said the apartments would be financed at a fixed preferential rate of 8.95% for six years. Bisono will also be accessing funds for the construction from RD$20 billion in loans for productive sectors at preferential rates, making the most of the legal exchange reserve funds recently released by the Central Bank. Bisono said the apartments would be put on the market at prices ranging between RD$895,000 and RD$4 million. He said that a down payment of RD$160,000 would be required for a RD$895,000 home. The monthly repayments would be around RD$6,000.
Bisono said that the company has already built 400 of 9,000 homes in a low-income housing complex on Km. 17 of the Duarte Highway.
He said the company has plans to build 24,000 homes in the next two years, an investment of RD$50 billion. Being able to source the pension funds enables the company to offer buyers fixed loans of 9% for six years. He said this enables the development of a mass market for poor families in the country to be able to acquire their own homes.
Bisono said that the builder has met with the provincial governor who agreed to support the initiative by issuing a decree whereby all homes that are sold for under RD$2 million will be exempt from ITBIS tax, prior to the implementation of the trust funds under Law 189-11 for the Development of the Mortgage and Trust Market.
Crackdown on ring that exploited Haitian children
The governments of the United States and Haiti and the International Organization for Migration together with the Dominican authorities took part in a crackdown operation yesterday, Thursday 16 May, which rescued 58 Haitian children and teenagers, trafficking victims who were being held in barrios in Los Alcarrizos and western Santo Domingo. Twenty-two raids were carried out to uncover where the minors were kept, said National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso and Jonatan Baro Gutierrez, specialized attorney for smuggling of migrants and people trafficking for the National District and Immigration director Jose Ricardo Taveras, as well as the director of the Conani child welfare center, Tilzas Ares, and the director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Prosecutor Berenice Reynoso reported that a nine-month investigation was carried out to follow the modus operandi and identity those responsible for the network dedicated to the exploitation of Haitian children and adolescents, who were forced to beg on the main streets and avenues in Santo Domingo.
The prosecutor said that the rescued children were taken to Conani shelters, where they will receive psychological care. The authorities will take on the costs until their possible repatriation so they may be reunited with their families in Haiti.
The authorities said more than 20 people were arrested during the operation. Reynoso said that the conditions in which the children lived were quite shocking. She said that the children were rented and brought to the country for exploitation, which in her opinion is a criminal act.
"Taking these children from their home to live in another country in subhuman conditions, and mistreating them when they did not meet their work quota, deserves a strong response from the prosecution authorities," said Reynoso.
This is the second crackdown on the beggars' networks. The director of Migration, Taveras said that people who give the beggars money are exercising misplaced solidarity, because by doing so they are supporting the exploitation ring. He also urged city residents to not buy calling cards or cellphone chargers on street corners.
Last week prosecutors met with representatives of the Embassy of Haiti in the country, Ministry of Foreign Relations, UNICEF, OIM and other organizations to coordinate efforts to locate the families of the children and teenagers.
Law 137-03 on People Trafficking regards the smuggling of people for their exploitation as beggars is a modern form of slavery that mainly affects children and women who are the most vulnerable.
The Director of Immigration said that this was the second blow the Dominican authorities have dealt to child trafficking.
Metro halted by power failure
Public Transport Reorganization Office (OPRET) spokesman Leonel Carrasco says that a power failure in one of the cars on the first line of the Metro this morning, Friday, 17 May caused the Metro to shut down for one hour. He explained that the problem was caused by an air conditioning system failure in the car. Thousands of commuters suffered one-hour delays as a result of the shutdown.
Comedy at Palacio de Bellas Artes
Franklin Dominguez's award-winning play, "Se busca un hombre honesto," will be staged at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo this weekend, from Friday, 17 May to Sunday, 19 May at 8:30pm. The comedy is about the overthrow of the President of the Republic of 'Save Yourself If You Can.'
Another comedy over the weekend is "La Peste" at Teatro Guloya on Arzobispo Portes street in Santo Domingo's Colonial City.
For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://dr1.com/calendar