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Daily News - 25 July 2002

Congress to decide on new taxes
The Executive Branch has sent a bill to Congress that would increase taxes. El Caribe newspaper described the bill as a “paquetito” or little package, comparing it to the “paquetazo” term used for the many new taxes that went into effect in January 2001, six months into the start of the Mejia administration. 
The bill proposes to fix the 1.5% tax on gross sales that expires in December 2003. It also proposes to eliminate deductions of the ITBIS sales tax and levy a non-deductible additional 12% fixed tax on air travel and insurance bills. 
The government proposes to lower the tax on imported alcoholic beverages from 45% to 35%. 
The bill also establishes an extension of the deadline for applying for the Fiscal Amnesty provision. The Executive Branch bill argues that many taxpayers did not take advantage of the bill that enables property owners to declare their assets and not have to pay overdue taxes because the Inheritance Law had not yet been amended. According to El Caribe, the new bill features the change. The Mejia government collected RD$1.6 billion in revenues after passing the Fiscal Amnesty and hopes to collect another significant amount with the extension by the year’s end if the bill passes. 
The bill also creates a fund that would receive 0.5% of the total tax revenues. The money would be used to finance the operation of tax collection offices and provide monetary incentives for government tax employees in order to curb tax evasion. 
The Executive Branch is lobbying for the bill to be passed before 16 August, prior to the start of the new congressional term. As of 16 August, the two opposition parties together could overrule any Executive Branch bill. 

Another contract rescinded
The Dominican Electricity Corporation agreed to pay the US$10 million dollar loan Laesa, Ltd has pending with the Banco Hipotecario Dominicano. The government utility says it will save US$6 million a year by rescinding the contract. The contract is rescinded as part of a series of ongoing negotiations with independent power producers regarding contracts signed in past administrations under non-competitive conditions. The government hard earlier rescinded the contracts with Transcontinental Capital Corporation, El Paso Energy and Smith-Enron.

No DR-US free trade agreement
A White House release indicated yesterday that the US Government has no intention to open talks with the Dominican Republic regarding the signing of a bilateral free trade agreement. The White House explains that the US Government is committed to negotiate the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Talks with the Dominican Republic will continue to be held under the umbrella of the broader commercial treaty. The Free Trade Area of the Americas would progressively eliminate barriers to trade and investment among 34 regional countries as of 2005. For a review of the Dominican participation in the negotiation groups, see http://www.ftaa-alca.org/

Dengue alert
Guillermo Gonzalvez, director of the National Center for the Prevention of Tropical Diseases urged Dominicans to heighten their awareness and fully participate in control of mosquitoes and other dengue prevention efforts.
Dengue, a tropical disease, threatens the country primarily during the summertime. 
Gonzalvez reminds the general public that the mosquito that causes dengue and the more acute dengue fever breeds in clean waters. The mosquito breeds primarily in man-made containers such as domestic water storage vessels, bottles, cans, used tires and other items that retain water. 
He recommends that tanks where clean water is stored be previously cleaned with chlorine and that these be kept closed at all times. 
There is no vaccine or preventive treatment other than the control of mosquitoes or the use of mosquito repellents, he explained. 
Anyone experiencing headaches, bone or joint and muscular pains and rash should see a doctor. Dengue hemorrhagic fever, the acute variation of the disease, is characterized by high fever that can be fatal. 
There have been 704 cases probable cases registered this year, most in low-income areas. Four persons have died because timely medical attention was not provided. 
According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. Dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DDS) occur in over 100 countries and territories and threaten the health of more than 2.5 billion people in urban, peri-urban and rural areas of the tropics and subtropics. The disease is endemic in Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.

Slipping in human development
The Dominican Republic ranked 94th in human development, slipping from 86th in 2001 in the 173 country ratings of the United Nations Human Development Report 2002. The United Nations Development Program launched the 277-page report globally on 24 July. 
The report on human conditions around the world this year examines political participation as a dimension of human development. It emphasizes the importance of political freedoms as a goal of human development, and explores how democratic institutions help promote economic and social progress.
The Human Development Report 2002 is the 13th in a series commissioned by UNDP since 1990 to emphasize the centrality of the human person in the development process. 
Upon making the presentation of the report in Santo Domingo yesterday, Niki Fabiancic, UNDP representative, called the social and political leaders of the Dominican Republic to come forth would a long term plan for the development of the country over the next 15 years. El Caribe newspaper reports that Fabiancic believes the main objective has to be to make a better country for our children. He said that chapters for education and health in the National Budget should be increased.
For more information on the Dominican Republic’s ranking in the report, see http://www.undp.org/

Lila loses favor of the PRD
El Dia newspaper speculates that the president of the Chamber of Deputies Rafaela (Lila) Alburquerque’s hope for being re-elected to her post is vanishing. The newspaper, in its Las Cuentas Claras commentary, states that after Lila was not able to fulfill her promise to get the Chamber of Deputies to agree to reduce the 50%+1 minimum vote requirement to win the presidency in a first round, she lost the favor of the PRD legislators. The newspaper speculates that Ramon Rogelio Genao or Hector Marte, also of the PRSC, could be chosen to replace her.

Balaguer’s son and daughter?
Ramon Lorenzo Perello, for years part of the inner circle of late President Joaquin Balaguer, said on Telecentro, Channel 13 last night that Mercedes (Mercedita) Antonia de los Santos Solis and Alexis Joaquin Castillo Cabrera are a known daughter and son of the legendary politician. Balaguer never recognized either of them, nor publicly accepted he had had any children. 
The legendary enigmatic politician never married. He dedicated himself to care for his six sisters, his widowed mother, his writing and to politics. 
“Well, the only sons of Balaguer that I know of are Mercedita and Alexis Joaquin Castillo,” Perello told Maria Isabel Gil of Telecentro. He said that Balaguer never spoke publicly about them because they were part of his private life. His followers and the press respected his privacy. 
Alexis Joaquin Castillo made headlines on 18 July when he spoke at the cemetery burial. For the first time, he publicly addressed the statesman as father and teacher. 
After the burial, Diario Libre on 19 July speculated that Balaguer could have had six or seven offspring. The seven-time President of the Dominican Republic never recognized any of his children, nevertheless. To legally make any claims, DNA testing could still be carried out. 
Alexis Joaquin Castillo Cabrera is son to Laura Cabrera. He was born in 1956. It was always rumored he was Balaguer’s son. 
Castillo graduated in law and was appointed District Attorney and Minister of Sports during the 1986-1996 Balaguer governments.

850,000 liters of beer sold daily in DR
Beer consumption in the Dominican Republic is 310 million liters a year, according to the Dominican Association of Beer Manufacturers (Adoface). This breaks down to a consumption of about 850,000 liters of beer a day. 
Beer production has had a sustained growth of 60% in the past 10 years, according to Rafael Menicucci, spokesman for the organization. He said that the DR is the eight largest Latin American producer and is the second largest Latin American beer exporter to the United States. Presidente is the leading Dominican brand.

Six Dominicans nominated to the Grammy
Dominicans Eddy Herrera, Hector Acosta, Fernando Villalona, Kinito Mendez, Felix D’Oleo and Jandy Felix made the 3rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards nominations list for recordings released 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002. Dominican merengue bandleaders dominated in the merengue music category this year. 
The winners of the coveted nominations of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences are: 
Best Merengue Album category --
Eddy Herrera: Atrevido
Los Toros Band: Pa’ La Calle
Kinito Mendez: A Palo Limpio
Fernando Villalona: Mal Acostumbrado
Best Contemporary Tropical Album
Felix D’Oleo: Frutos
Best Tropical Song category
Jandy Feliz: La Pasion
For a complete list of the nominees, see http://www.grammy.com/
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