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Daily News - 29 July 2002

Mejia blames external factors for problems at home
President Hipolito Mejia blames the international situation and said that Dominicans will have to prepare for more belt tightening next year, as reported in El Dia newspaper. Meanwhile, press reports focus on the government’s free borrowing as a main reason for budgetary difficulties the government will have to face next year. 
El Dia newspaper says that the servicing of the foreign debt will increase RD$1.35 billion next year due to short-term borrowing picked up by the government for the purchase of goods and services. 
Diario Libre reports that in the first 23 months in government, the Mejia administration has signed foreign loans for US$4.1 million, or more than RD$70 billion. The amount is similar to the national budget of one year. Half of the loans were obtained in the first year of the Mejia government. 
Congress is studying another US$800 million in loans. 
Diario Libre also reports that this is in addition to another RD$6.6 billion the government has borrowed from local commercial banks.
Several economists urge the government to reduce its spending. The Mejia administration has increased the government payroll by 42,000 employees, at an additional cost of RD$4 billion a year to taxpayers. Studies have shown most of these jobs were not necessary.

Big profits to be made in lobbying for loans
El Caribe reports today on just one loan sent by the Executive Branch to the Congress. The review gives an idea of the kind of money that has been made with the passing of billions in loans with foreign commercial banks. 
A US$10.4 million commission would have been deducted from the US$95.6 million loan for the construction of 9,000 wooden houses, a project the Technical Secretary of the Presidency sent to Congress for approval. Of the total, the government would only receive US$85 million from the Private Export Funding Corporation (http://www.pefco.com). The Executive Branch sent the loan to the Senate on 17 June. 
The government commission recently appointed by the President to review loans pending for approval reportedly recommended that the financing, that has the backing of the US government Eximbank, be rejected. 
The same commission, presided by Minister of Finance Jose Lois Malkum, recommended that another $180 million loan for housing sent by the Technical Secretary of the Presidency also be rejected. 
El Caribe reports that still another US$23.9 million loan for prefab wooden housing announced by Eduardo Aguirre as part of talks with President Mejia in Washington, D.C. would also be turned down. The rejection is on grounds that the government does not have the complementary funds that would be needed to complete the housing projects.

Energy Rules published
The government has published the Statutes and Rules on Energy that complement Energy Law 125-01. The document circulates in Hoy newspaper today. Residents in the Dominican Republic should secure a copy of the ruling that explains the rights and obligations of consumers and power companies.

Three-hour air controller strike
Air controllers left their work places on Friday, causing major airplane detours and delays. From 6:30 to 9:10 pm all national airports remained closed to air traffic. The union of air controllers struck in a desperate move to call the attention to their urgent needs at the airports. 
The protest was successful. President Hipolito Mejia removed the head of the Civil Aviation Board, Retired General Trajano Moreta Cueva and in his place appointed Air Force General Damian Castro Cruz, a former Las Americas International Airport security director. This opened the doors for renewed talks and the controllers went back to work. 
As a result of the air controller work stoppage, some seven flights to Las Americas International had to be detoured to Puerto Rico, others suffered delays, as reported in the Listin Diario. 
The Listin Diario reported that Francisco Bolivar de Leon, president of the union of air controllers, said that the work stoppage was primarily for technical and managerial reasons. They complained that Trajano Moreta did not understand the need for improvements.

500 buses for OMSA
Listin Diario reports that 500 new large buses will be arriving within the next 30 days for public transport. Of the first shipment of 314 Hyundai air-conditioned buses, 200 are being assigned to the Organizing Committee of the 2003 Pan Am Games. Once the Games are over, at the end of August, the buses will become part of the service fleet of the Oficina Nacional de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA).
Alberto Ramírez, spokesman for OMSA, told the Listin that those using the air-conditioned buses will pay higher fares. The buses feature automated fare-paying systems. 
No tender was held for the import.

AMET automates fines paying
Hoy newspaper reports that as of today the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) is implementing a pilot automated fines system. Some 50 agents are being located at strategic points and will be seeking traffic rules violators to try out their new computerized palm-size gadgets. 
Mayor General Pedro de Jesus Candelier, director of the AMET, said that the computerized system makes it unnecessary for the agents to keep the driver licenses or arrest those infringing traffic laws.
Those caught can pay the fine immediately by using a credit card or at a commercial bank. 
This system had been criticized in the past on grounds that the law only allows a judge to impose a fine. Candelier says a presidential decree will authorize the new system. He said his department has prepared a bill with the necessary provisions that will be sent to Congress.
The system will be tied into the commercial banks system and the taxation department. Individuals need to be clear of traffic fines in order to carry out banking or government transactions.

Concession approved for Villa Mella expressway
The Senate approved a US$120 million 30-year concession for the construction of the controversial expressway from John F. Kennedy Highway to the Jacobo Majluta intersection/Villa Mella, north of Santo Domingo. The contract was awarded without a tender. It had been criticized as a decision that would cause more problems than those it would resolve. 
Minister of Public Works Miguel Vargas Maldonado signed for the government. Miguel Camilo Bacha Peña representing the contractor company, Consorcio M.S.B
The investors will recuperate their money by collecting tolls. The contract does not specify where the tollbooth will be located, the number of lanes, nor where the tunnels or overpasses would be built. It gives green light to the contractor to decide these matters.
The president of the public works commission of the Senate, Vicente Castillo criticized that the bill is being passed without a legal regulatory framework being in place. Despite voting in favor of the project, he said that there are too many loose ends and forecast the concession will be detrimental to consumers.

Bello Andino and Mejia meet
PRSC party leaders Jacinto Peynado and Jose O. Leger said that party president Rafael Bello Andino cannot sole handedly speak for the party nor decide by himself party matters. Bello met yesterday with President Hipolito Mejia. Bello Andino said that he met with Hipolito Mejia to hear proposals. He also told the Listin that he had met with Eduardo Selman of the PLD. 
Peynado and Leger publicly demanded that he disclose the talks, saying that if not Bello Andino would be setting the stage for internal problems within the party. 
Peynado said in a press conference that Bello Andino nor Amable Aristy Castro can speak for the party, nor can the party’s political secretary nor organization secretary. Peynado stressed that only the 50 board members can decide who will be the next president of the Chamber of Deputies or of the Dominican Municipal League that oversees the funding of city governments.

More on Balaguer’s descendents
A month and a half ago a Florida judge authorized 55-year old Jesus Perez to use the name of Joaquin Jesus Balaguer, in honor of who he claims was his biological father, none less than the legendary seven-time President of the Dominican Republic. 
Listin Diario tell his story and that of his sister, 57-year old Gloria Nilsa Balaguer Lespier, who lives in Kew Gardens, New York. 
According to him, his mother Juana Coiscou, a Puerto Rican woman who died in 1995, was a housekeeper in the home of Balaguer’s aunts (sisters to his father), who taught at the University of Puerto Rico. He said that his sister has the last names Balaguer Lespier because the aunts raised the child and gave her their own two last names. 
He explains that upon becoming pregnant again, his mother left the job at the home of the two aunts fearing that they would take her son away from her, as they did when forcefully adopting his older sister. She latter married a public bus driver, Jesus Perez, who gave his name to her son. She never told her son that Perez was not his biological father.
Joaquin Jesus Balaguer says there is no doubt that his sister is a daughter of Balaguer because there are many witnesses. He says that he is willing to go through DNA testing to prove his relationship. 
Joaquin Jesus Balaguer lives with his wife Blanca Rolon and three children in Orlando, Florida. It was not until 1995 that he learned who his supposed biological father was and then tried to meet him. He said his mother had confided the secret to a half-sister prior to going in for major surgery. His mother had asked his half-sister to reveal the truth to him and Gloria Nilsa if she did not make it through the operation. She survived, but it was agreed the secret would only be revealed when she died. 
Joaquin Jesus Balaguer works as a truck driver in Florida. 
He said that upon hearing whom his real father was, he traveled to Santo Domingo, and met with General Jesus Maria Perez Bello and Balaguer’s secretary, Rafael Bello Andino, but they never allowed him to meet Balaguer. 
He said that his only interest is to find out the truth, that he seeks nothing more. He told the Listin he will return to Santo Domingo 23-24 August to continue pursuing the truth. 
Recently, the Listin Diario published testimony by Ramon Lorenzo Perello, a close friend of Balaguer, that former District Attorney Alexis Joaquin Castillo and Merceditas Solis are two known Joaquin Balaguer offspring.

Janelle Commissiong coming for Miss DR
The Miss Universe-elected during the pageant held in Santo Domingo in 1977, Trinidadian successful businesswoman Janelle Commissiong is an invited guest of the Miss Dominican Republic pageant to be telecast tonight from the National Theater. The show is to be televised this evening on Channel 13, Telecentro. Dominican star Charytin Goico and her son Shalim are among the performers for the evening. 
The jurors for the evening are former Miss Dominican Republic Annie Canaan, the president of the Dominical Social Chroniclers Candida Ortega, Colombian shoes designer Carlos Molina, the director of the National Theater Carmen Heredia de Guerrero, fine art painters Elsa Nunez and Fernando Ureña Rib, social chronicler Francisco Sanchis, president of Revista Mercado Patricia de Moya, orchestra director Jose Antonio Molina, former Miss Azucar Sarah Olimpia Frometa de Schad and fashion designer Sully Bonelly. 
The representatives to the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants will be chosen among 22 Dominican beauties.
 
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