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Daily News - 13 July 2001

Placer Dome wins Rosario tender
The Monetary Board announced that the Canadian company, Placer Dome is the first option for the exploitation of the sulfide deposits of the Rosario mine in the north central Cotui. Placer Dome is North America’s third largest gold mining company and the world’s fifth largest gold miner. Placer Dome competed with Australia’s MIM Holding for the right to exploit the Rosario sulfide concession. The Monetary Board says that Placer Dome will now carry out a feasibility study to determine where the residual wastes of the process will be deposited to have the least impact on the environment. Following this study, the final contract with the company would be sent to Congress for approval.
Placer Dome proposes is to use traditional technology combined with bioleaching to extend the life of the mine another 30 years. An investment of US$336 million would be made. The concession is for 25 years. Reportedly, 403,000 ounces of gold and 2.2 million ounces of silver would be produced. Production would start 36 months after the signing of the contract.

DR establishes relations with Kuwait
Minister of Foreign Relations Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Ambassador Ali Khaled Al-Sabah of Kuwait signed for the DR and Kuwait establishing diplomatic relations. Al Sabah highlighted Dominican solidarity with Kuwait during the Iraq invasion in 1991. Al Sabah said that the DR could benefit from the Kuwait foreign investment fund. Minister of Foreign Relations Tolentino toasted with champagne, the Kuwait ambassador with papaya juice, as reported in El Siglo newspaper.

Confusing tale of a highway
Minister of Public Works Miguel Vargas announced the start of the San Cristobal-Km. 40 Duarte highway, 28 kilometers at a cost of RD$256 million or US$16 million, a 15-18 month project and a 20-year concession. The Executive Branch sent a bill on the project to Congress for US$11.3 million for the rehabilitation and construction of the San Cristobal-Autopista Duarte and Haina-Autopista Duarte highways by Consorcio Vial Dominicano.
El Caribe newspaper questions that 19 kilometers of the highway given in concession are already being rebuilt with a RD$92 million World Bank granted in the past government. The highway stretch should be ready this August.
El Caribe says that it is the first time in Dominican history that the state provides a payment guarantee and 20-year concession to collect tolls to recuperate US$16 million to a private company for a highway that is built almost in its entirety.
El Caribe points out that the person signing the contract for the company, Hector Evertz is the same person who signed the Jamco contract for US$49 million to build 10 50-bed hospitals and a US$40.9 million deal for the purchase of Hyundai vehicles.
El Siglo newspaper reports that the state has granted concessions for the El Coral highway (RD$300 million), Circunvalacion de Santo Domingo (RD$1,200 million) and the Santo Domingo-Samana highway (RD$2,100) million. These contracts are pending congressional approval. Minister of Public Works Vargas also announced the forthcoming start of the San Cristobal-Bani highway, another concession.

Financial blackout at the National Palace
While talks continue with the generators and distributors, the National Palace yesterday suffered a financial blackout at 4 pm. Financial blackouts are caused by lack of payment. At 8:45 pm the blackout was more notable when the power plant failed for 15 minutes.
Recently, the president of the AES Distribuidora del Este, Karl Huber complained that the government was not paying its power bills, including that of the National Palace.
Meanwhile, Pedro Franco Badia, Administrative Secretary of the Presidency said the government pays RD$15 million a month for the service. El Siglo newspaper reports that the National Palace does not have a meter installed.

New ambassadors of Japan and Philippines
President Hipolito Mejia received the credentials of the ambassadors of Philippines and Japan during a brief ceremony at the National Palace yesterday. Wenceslao Jose Quirolgico is the new ambassador for the Philippines. He was previously ambassador to Cuba. Takehisa Nogami is the new ambassador for Japan. He was previously ambassador in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Better relations sought with government
Business spokesmen for three organizations urged President Mejia to send a positive and optimistic message so as to overcome the confrontations existing between government and business sectors. Juan Barceló, of the Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), Antonio Espín of the Industrial Association of Herrera, and Ernesto Martinez of the Organization of Commercial Companies (ONEC) told Hoy newspaper that the message would encourage investors. “We get up everyday not thinking about our competitors, but thinking about what the government is going to do against the productive sector, be it issuing a norm, a new rule or any other type of measure,” complained Espin.

Inflation set at 10.33%
Inflation for the past 12 months has been 10.33% as reported by the Central Bank. The Central Bank is forecasting a year-end single digit inflation rate. The Central Bank reports that inflation during the first semester of the year has been as follows: January 8.18%, February 8.62%, March 9.07%, April 9.58%, May 10.09% and June 10.33%, as reported in El Caribe.

Alburquerque desists from running for re-election
Ramon Alburquerque (PRD-Monte Plata), president of the Senate, announced he would no longer run for re-election. El Siglo newspaper reports that he could give his support to the candidacy of Antonio Rosario (PRD-San Cristobal), Antonio del Villar (PRD-San Juan de la Maguana) and Ginette Bournigal (UD-Puerto Plata) and Angel D. Perez (PRD-Pedernales). Another contender for the post is Andres Bautista García, who reportedly has the backing of 13 senators.

More efforts needed to stop trafficking of women
The annual report to the US Congress on worldwide trafficking in persons submitted by the US Secretary of State states that the DR is primarily a source country for trafficked women and, less frequently, for minor girls. According to the Center for Integral Orientation and Investigation (COIN), a non governmental organization, women typically between the ages of 18 and 25, and girls as young as age 15, are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude to Europe (Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and Belgium), the Lesser Antilles (Curacao, Saint Martin, Aruba, and Antigua), and, in some cases, to Argentina and Israel.
For more information on the report, see
http://www.usinfo.state.gov/topical/global/traffic/

New US franchise opens in Santo Domingo
Payless Shoe Source, Inc. opened its first branch in Santo Domingo this week. Steve Douglas, company chairman, visited for the opening of the El Conde pedestrian mall store. Alberto Bonetti spoke for the franchise operators in the DR.
He announced the chain would be opening stores at Price Mart and Diamond Mall in Santo Domingo.

Tourism studies scholarships
Dominicans are encouraged to apply for Caribbean Tourism Organization scholarships. The CTO Foundation has available scholarships for postgraduate studies in tourism and hospitality and language training, within or outside of the region. Study grants are also available for pursuing different levels of certification in tourism and hospitality studies. For more information, contact CTO headquarters at Sir Frank Walcott Building, Second Floor, Culloden Farm Complex, St. Michael, Barbados, email: [email protected]

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