New York mayor to visit|
El Dia newspaper reports that the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg will visit the Dominican Republic on Friday, 26 July. On his agenda are meetings in Santiago and La Vega. In Santiago, he will meet Mayor Hector Grullon Moronta and Mayor-elect Jose Enrique Sued. Bloomberg and his committee, that includes New York Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, will fly into the new Cibao International Airport.
This is Bloomberg’s second visit to the Dominican Republic. When he was still New York’s mayor-elect, he first visited Santo Domingo on 27 November 2001, shortly after the 12 November AA587 flight crash. At that time, he visited to pay tribute to the homeland of the immigrants who had died in the crash. It was his first trip abroad after being elected. At the time, Bloomberg also met with President Hipolito Mejia to discuss the issues of Dominican immigrants in New York.
Observers say that Dominican political clout is increasing in New York, as more Dominicans are also US citizens and have become more involved in community affairs.
Rumors of new taxes for 2003|
Teofilo (Quico) Tabar denied the government would levy new taxes this year. Nevertheless, the government has gradually been increasing the tax on petrol sales that fluctuates upwards pesos and downwards only cents. The price of petrol is only supposed to fluctuate according to the cost of petrol on international markets.
Tabar did not deny the increase could be forthcoming next year as the government grapples to pay the new debt taken on by the Mejia administration.
Diario Libre speculates the government is studying presenting to Congress a new version of the “paquetazo,” referring to the “big package” of new taxes the Mejia government levied on Dominicans in January 2001. Revenues generated by the new taxes have not been enough to pay for the new government expenditures after the government has hired many new employees, increased spending for matters such as advertising, and increased its borrowing abroad.
Diario Libre reports on sources that say the government could increase the value-added tax (ITBIS) from 12 to 14%, and could fix the gross tax on sales levied on business. This could be increased to 2.5%, up from 1.5%, according to the newspaper’s sources.
Tax exemptions for Pan Am cars|
President Hipolito Mejia authorized a tax reduction for vehicles to be used for the Santo Domingo Pan American Games in August 2003. Those importing luxury vehicles for the temporary use of visiting ministers, presidents and important sports officers would only pay a fixed tax, Jose Joaquin Puello, president of the Games Organizing Committee said on Cadena de Noticias. Reporting on Puello’s statement, Diario Libre did not disclose the amount of the tax.
The newspaper says that the Organizing Committee needs 285 four-passenger cars and 25 five-passenger cars to transport the 20-25 ministers and heads of state in addition to the other VIPs that will visit.
The Organizing Committee will only use the cars for 5-15 days. Puello said the incentive is given so as to get individuals to pay for the bulk of the cost of the vehicles needed for the event.
Bypassing the power distributors|
Listin Diario reports that the new power ruling will allow individual consumers to group and qualify for the non-regulated users category. This category enables them to access power supplied by the large generation companies, bypassing the power distributors.
This means those who live in condominiums or free zone parks could qualify for the power savings authorized to legal corporations that consume more than two megawatts of power.
Listin Diario explains that while the decree formalizing the ruling was signed last week, it will not go into effect until the President signs his initials on each of the individual pages upon his return from Washington, D.C. on Friday.
The ruling also obliges the power distributors to deliver bills to the domicile of the consumers seven days prior to the expiration date. Furthermore, it establishes that power distributors have up to two years to install meters at all their clients’ domiciles.
Power distributors cannot suspend the service if consumers are only one month behind as at present. A minimum of two months is required to cut the power service.
Public bus service has financial trouble|
Hoy reports how the Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA) bus service is nowhere what it used to be. Reportedly, only half of the 600 buses of the fleet are operating on the routes, a result of bad management. Reportedly, the bus service is no longer subject of credit by suppliers of spare parts of even diesel fuel. It has overspent its monthly allotment from the government. The newspaper reports that the OMSA management has been inconvenienced by the National Budget Department that is requesting reports on the use of allotted funds. The present management was criticized in the press for supposed corruption since its appointment.
Better days ahead for Congress|
El Caribe editorial speculates today that better times are ahead for the discredited legislative branch. Given that the ruling PRD party will no longer have majority in the Chamber of Deputies, there could be a strengthening of the true role of Congress, as check and balance of the actions taken by the Executive Branch and the Senate. The government party has 29 of the 32 seats in the 2002-2006 Congress.
El Caribe mentions that the PRD will be short 10 deputies in the 2002-2006 Congress. In the 2002 congressional election, voters chose 73 PRD representatives, 36 PRSC deputies and 41 PLD deputies. An alliance of the PLD and PRSC deputies could stop bills passed by the Senate from becoming law.
In the second half of the Mejia administration, it is very probable that the PRD will not be able to count on the support of the PRSC block. For the first two years, the PRSC legislators passed most Executive Branch bills.
But, with the passing away of Mejia’s key PRSC supporter, Joaquin Balaguer, the PLD and PRSC could now join forces. The first inkling of this change was evident when the PRSC legislators voted to keep the 50%+1 minimum vote requirement to win the presidency in a first round. Prior to the death of Balaguer, they had voted in a first reading in favor of reducing this to a 45% plurality.
Hatuey gets the blame for 45%|
Hatuey Decamps, president of the ruling PRD party, is getting the blame for the not passing of the reduction of the 50%+1 vote minimum vote requirement to win the presidential election in a first round. Decamps traveled abroad with six of his followers in the Chamber of Deputies while the constitutional reform sessions were being held. Numerically, the six deputies would not have been enough. Two thirds would not been enough, and others would have had to be convinced.
Since day one, Decamps had disputed the change of the constitution to re-instate presidential re-election. This was lobbied for and obtained by legislators that saw in President Hipolito Mejia the party’s only chance at continuing in power.
Guido Gomez Mazara, legal advisor to the Executive Branch, criticized Decamps for not defending the position of the PRD in the reform sessions.
Gomez Mazara wants Decamps ejected from the presidency of the party. While earlier press reports say he himself would like to be voted the next president of the party, in a El Dia TV program interview on Telesistema, Gomez mentioned Virgilio Bello Rosa, Milton Ray, and Tony Raful as possible new presidents of the PRD.
Gomez Mazara, one of the PRD’s leading political strategists, said: “Now we have to renovate the party, that it may have real leadership, that the votes be counted. The days of blackmail are over. The votes have to be counted because to lead means to lead people. If you do not lead people, you do not have the right to demand anything.”
Jacinto Peynado leads in PRSC|
An Omnimedia/Gallup poll presents Jacinto Peynado as the leading presidential candidate-hopeful for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) into the 2004 presidential election. Peynado was presidential candidate for the party in the 1996 election. He served as Vice President from 1994-1996, during the shortened term of the late President Joaquin Balaguer. He has also been senator for Santo Domingo from 1986-1990 and 1990-1994. The other contenders are Carlos Morales Troncoso, Federico Antun Batlle, Jose Hazim Frappier, Amable Aristy Castro and Johnny Jones.
Bank advertising boom|
The banking sector bonanza is good news for the local media. The banks were the biggest advertiser in the first six months of the year. Banks in the DR have little foreign competition, and thus have managed very high profitability levels.
El Caribe reports on the nationwide advertising billing for the first six months. Advertising in 2002 was RD$3.5 billion compared to RD$3.4 billion for the same period in 2001.
The newspaper also mentions that government advertising was up 3.4% during the first six months.
The advertising breakdown is for January-June 2002 is:
Banks RD$356.6 million,
Stores RD$313.8 million
Communications RD$236.4 million
Political parties RD$207 million
Government RD$197.7 million
Supermarkets RD$176.9 million
Teaching love for math|
The New Horizons school is recognized nationwide for its mathematics program, as reported in El Caribe. The Santo Domingo bilingual education school has won the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra and Ministry of Education Mathematics Olympiads for the past five years.
Two Russian teachers Livia Gourilova and Grazyna Kopezynska and Dominican Ana Marte have instilled a love for mathematics in their students. The mathematics coordinator Kopeznska explains they begin teaching Pre-Algebra to the 7th grade students. In 9th grade students take Algebra II. Kopeznska explains that they use an inductive reasoning approach that covers much more than required by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education only requires that teachers gradually introduce algebra prior to 9th grade.
She explains that they challenge their students so these are never bored. Teacher Ana Marte says that from third grade on students get to compete in motivating New Horizon school mathematics competitions. She explained the programs they use teach mathematics as a language, not a subject.
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