Daily News

Daily News - Friday, 30 January 2015 (Archived Daily News)

Maridalia at Hard Rock Cafe

Sovereign bond money used to cut PetroCaribe debt

The Medina administration says it has cut the PetroCaribe debt by 98% by paying off half the total owed in a transaction that went through on Tuesday, 27 January 2015.

Speaking for the government at a press conference yesterday, Thursday 29 January, Minister of Hacienda Simon Lizardo and his deputy minister Magin Diaz announced that the deal for the 98%, or US$4.03 billion is the largest debt transaction in the country's economic history.

After a year of negotiations, PDVSA agreed to discount 52% of the debt and the Dominican government paid US$1.93 billion, or 48% of the debt. As of December 2014, the Dominican Republic had owed Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) US$4.12 billion dollars for fuel purchases from 2005 to 2014.

The transaction reduced the Non-Financial Public Sector Debt by US$2.09 billion or 3.3%, says the Presidency. At the close of 2014, the total sum owed was US$23.81 billion, equivalent to 37.2% of the GDP. This has now declined to US$21.71 billion (34%).

The government announced that the PetroCaribe debt was paid with US$2.5 billion in sovereign bonds placed on 20 January 2015. Of the US$2.5 billion in sovereign bonds, they said US$1.93 billion was paid to PDVSA, US$563.5 million was transferred to the Central Bank and US$3.2 million was invested in the cost of issuing the bonds. The bonds were placed US$1 billion at 10 years and 5.5% interest, and another for US$1.5 billion for 30 years and 6.85% interest.

The government spokesmen said the transaction should improve the country's risk rating, which should be reflected in a decline in interest rates for financing abroad.

They added that while the new interest is higher at an average 6% than the 1% with PDVSA, the country would save US$550 million. If the debt had remained at the same level, in the next 10 years the country would have had to pay US$210 million to PDVSA, but with the new debt it will only have to pay US$120 million.


DR to preside CELAC in 2015

The Dominican Republic has been chosen for the next temporary presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) during 2015. The announcement was made during the 4th Summit held 28-29 January 2015 in Costa Rica. CELAC brings together 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, representing roughly 600 million people. The country holding the Pro Tempore Presidency hosts the Summits of Heads of State and Government.

A successor of the Rio Group, CELAC was created in 2010 and established as of 3 December 2011 to deepen Latin American integration and reduce United States influence on the politics and economics of the region. It is viewed as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS). The bloc is seen as a main forum for political dialogue for the region without the United States and Canada.

The member states are Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The Presidency's main responsibilities include organizing and chairing the Summit of Heads of State and Government and the meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Coordinators, enforcing the decisions of the Summits and the meetings, monitoring agreements reached at the meetings, submitting the Biennial Work Program of CELAC activities for consideration, formulating working papers, issuing minutes, organizing activities, creating and presenting the Annual Reports, and carrying on the Community legacy, as well as that of the Rio Group and Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC).



Land Use bill in the pipeline

Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas says the government is making good progress on a bill for the Land Use in the Dominican Republic and could present it to Congress once it reopens on 27 February 2015. Montas made the announcement during a workshop on "Ordering the National Land Use System in the Dominican Republic" held in Santo Domingo yesterday, Thursday 29 January 2015. The workshop was aimed at providing the finishing touches to the bill. The land use bill will be sent to Congress together with a Unique Planning Regions Bill that establishes a land use scheme.

Montas said that the main risks associated with inadequate land use include urbanization of farmland, as well as an increase in inequality and poverty in some regions compared to others. He said that to achieve development as planned in the National Development Strategy's vision for 2030, sustainable land use must be planned and established.

Minister of Environment Bautista Rojas Gomez expressed his optimism that the bill would be studied and approved during the next legislature. He said that the Loma Miranda case has stimulated the government's interest in passing a land use bill. Rojas said the Land Use Bill was a vital instrument for the country's development, which would guarantee the sustainable use of natural resources and environmental services for present and future generations.

He said that the environmental problems currently affecting the country are linked to a lack of planning in land use, such as a reduction in river capacity, influenced by the impact of land use and non-regulated activities in sensitive areas, as well as deforestation due to the lack of incentives for sustainable management of areas with forestry potential. The minister also mentioned the destruction and degradation of natural ecosystems, air, water and land pollution, solid waste accumulation, and human settlements in unsuitable areas.


911 gets 5,232 noise complaints in first two weeks

Since its launch on 15 January 2015, the 911 Emergency Line has received 5,232 calls with complaints of noise pollution in the Greater Santo Domingo area. Environmental prosecutor Francia Calderon made the announcement during an event held in Villa Juana yesterday, Thursday 29 January 2015 during which more than 1,000 speakers confiscated from noise-causing businesses were destroyed. Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito and Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo also attended the event. Calderon said the large number of calls were a reflection of the noise pollution problem in Greater Santo Domingo.


Ex-Presidents discuss Latin America's future in Santo Domingo

Speaking during the III International Santo Domingo Forum in Santo Domingo this week, former President Leonel Fernandez said that the greatest challenge facing Latin America and the Caribbean is to increase wealth production to reduce inequality and improve quality of life for its inhabitants.

Fernandez said the worst financial and economic crisis was behind us and better days are ahead. He said that the challenge for Latin America was to increase and diversify its production to compete in global markets and to tackle the problems caused by inequality. He called for a combination of public and market initiatives, and backed the regulation of financial activities to prevent new crises and guarantee sustained economic growth.

Vice President Margarita Cedeno, wife of former President Leonel Fernandez, attended the inauguration of the event on Wednesday, 28 January 2015. Other key speakers were former Presidents Carlos Mesa of Bolivia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Luis Alberto Lacalle of Uruguay and Vinicio Cerezo of Guatemala. The former presidents took part in a panel discussion, "Goodbye to Boom, Welcome to the New Reality: the reforms Latin America needs in order to avoid repeating its history."

The event, which was held at the National Library in Santo Domingo, was also sponsored by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM).




Felix Bautista corruption accusations read out in court

After 10 hours of reading out the evidence of accusations for corruption and asset laundering against former director of the Supervisory Office of Public Works Felix Bautista and six alleged associates, judge Alejandro Moscoso Segarra called a recess yesterday, Thursday 29 January 2015. Bautista earned a wage of RD$57,000 at the government office that serves as a parallel Ministry of Public Works, but is known to have amassed one of the most impressive fortunes in the Dominican Republic when serving under former President Leonel Fernandez.

Moscoso Segarra ordered the preliminary hearing, which is being televised, to reopen at 10am today, Friday 30 January 2015. The accusations by the prosecutors include cases of overvaluation in the allocation of public works by the OISOE under Bautista. Prosecutors accuse Bautista of false asset statements during his time at the OISOE and of abusing his position to significantly increase his wealth. They say he took part in private construction deals that were incompatible with his government post. He is also accused of taking advantage of his position as head of the OISOE and later as a senator to obtain economic privileges for himself and for his associates by using influence and securing onerous contracts.

The accusations were read after several weeks of failed attempts by the defendants to secure an order to file them away as they had in the past.



Lope Balaguer passes away

Singer Jose Manuel Lopez Balaguer, popularly known as Lope Balaguer (El Cantantazo) died yesterday, Thursday 29 January 2015 at his home in Santo Domingo. The wake will be held at the Funeraria Blandino on Av. Abraham Lincoln. Lope Balaguer, who was 89 years old, had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for the past ten years.

Al Horford to NBA All Star Game

28-year old Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford has been chosen to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Stars game on 15 February 2015 in New York City along with teammates Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague. This is the first time since 1980 that three Atlanta Hawks players will be representing the Eastern Conference in the game. This is the third time Horford has been chosen for the game (also in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons).

Puerto Plata-born Horford has been selected as the Eastern Conference player of the week twice this season. Standing 6'10, Horford has helped the Hawks to 17 straight wins and a 38-8 record, the second-best in the NBA. Horford is averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.5 minutes after playing in 44 games this 2014-2015 season.

Horford has played in the Dominican national basketball team since 2008. He is married to Amelia Vega, the Dominican Republic's only Miss Universe.


Five Dominicans win awards for Orange is the New Black

Dominicans Dascha Polanco (Dayanara Diaz), Jessica Pimentel (Maria Ruiz), Selenis Leyva (Gloria Mendoza), Jackie Cruz (Flaca) and Diane Guerrero (Maritza Ramos) are part of the cast of Orange is the New Black TV show that shared the SAG Awards for outstanding performance in a comedy series announced on Sunday, 25 January 2015. The 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards honor the best achievements in film and television performances in 2014.

The series was nominated alongside ABC's Modern Family, CBS' The Big Bang Theory, HBO's Veep and Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.


Black Date at Teatro Las Mascaras

Teatro las Mascaras at Arzobispo Portes 56 in Santo Domingo's Colonial City presents Black Date, a play by Mario Diament that is a tribute to Argentinean playwright Jorge Luis Borges. It opens a space to discuss chance and destiny. The play, which opened at the small Colonial City venue on 23 January 2015, will run for several weeks. Directed by Germana Quintana, it stars Lidia Ariza, Jorge Santiago, Marisol Marion-Landais, Luciano Garcia and Kirsys Nunez.

The theater is small, so get there early at 7:30pm for the shows that start at 8:30pm. Reservations, Tel 809 687-9788.


Maridalia at Hard Rock Cafe

Maridalia Hernandez, one of the best Dominican singers of all times, is booked for a performance this evening, Friday, 30 January and next Friday, 4 February 2015 at the Hard Rock Cafe Blue Mall in Santo Domingo. 9pm. For reservations, call 809 686-7771.

8pm. Tickets are RD$1,500 and RD$2,500 VIP.

El Torito at the Maunaloa

If you are into merengue dancing, El Torito is booked for the Maunaloa nightclub in the Centro de los Heroes in Santo Domingo tomorrow evening, Saturday, 31 January 2015. 9m. Av. Heroes de Luperon 29, Tel 809 535-8010.

For more on upcoming events, see http://dr1.com/calendar