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Daily News - 30 September 2002

The Central Electoral Board judges
Will the judges chosen by the Senate to oversee the organization of the 2004 presidential election stay on? The Senate confirmed four of the judges and elected three others last week. One of the judges, Roberto Leonel Rodriguez has already resigned alleging there was lack of consensus in the decision. Another, Nelson Pantaleon Gonzalez says he was not consulted, and would not accept the position. Rafaelina Peralta Arias, legal advisor to the JCE, sees the appointment as a promotion, but says she is not yet decided. 
Meanwhile, when interviewed during his stopover in Washington, D.C. as part of a US tour, President Hipolito Mejia said that the decision was irrevocable. Former President Leonel Fernandez said the selection was nothing more than a demonstration of weakness and fear. 
The new board that would be sworn in on Tuesday is made up of: Manuel Ramon Morel Cerda, Salvador Ramos, Luis Arias and Roberto Leonel Rodriguez (resigning), Nelson Jose Gomez, Rafael Diaz Vasquez, and Rafaelina Peralta Arias.

New presidential candidates
Former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal launched his intention to opt for the presidential candidacy of the Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana (PLD) in the 2004 election. At the same time, Senator for San Pedro de Macoris, Jose Hazim announced he would seek to be the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) candidate in the election. 

Spending all of the sovereign bond money
El Caribe says that the government had spent almost all of the sovereign bond resources as of August 2002. This means that the US$115 million that had been announced would be kept in reserve has already been spent. 
According to the Budget Office report, as of 31 August, the government had spent RD$7.9 billion of the RD$8.6 million (US$497.5 million) sovereign bond placement. What is left in reserve is only RD$600 million and not RD$2 billion or US$115 million as announced earlier by the government. 
The newspaper says that in August the government could have used RD$2.03 billion of the bonds money to make payments to the Dominican Electricity Corporation to rescind onerous contracts with several power generators. While the amount is allotted in the Budget Report to the CDE, the report does not specify if the money was used to build infrastructure or to pay the generators. 
As negotiated, the US$497.5 million supposedly would be used in its entirety to finance the construction of high priority and productive infrastructure projects that would enhance the competitiveness of the Dominican economy. Only projects having an internal rate of return (including economic benefits) higher than the 9.5% yield to be paid on the bonds would have been considered.

Privatization of the service, for what?
El Caribe newspaper reports that Superintendent of Electricity Julio Cross says that in August the leading executive of Union Fenosa visited to request that President Hipolito Mejia not go public regarding the finding of significant irregularities in the audited records of their subsidiaries, Edesur and Edenorte. These two companies control the distribution of power in the south and north of the country, or about 65% of the total market. Reportedly, the executive requested the President not go public with the information so as not to affect Union Fenosa positioning in Spain. The audit had been contracted by Union Fenosa itself. 
Cross said on Aeromundo TV show on Channel 9, that he studied the audit findings after finding it strange that the Edesur/Edenorte executives continued to complain of heavy losses in the Dominican market. The study revealed that the company recorded spending US$20 million to install a modern management system. Since the CDE (the capitalized government power utility) had already only recently invested in a new system, he found the supposed investment high. It also was US$18 million more than the US$2 million AES EdeEste (the contractor of the other third of the market) had invested in their management system. 
Cross said that the audit also showed the company was registering as assets intangibles “that exist only in their imagination.” Furthermore, the audit showed the companies were recording as income, revenues that would be received over a period of 17 years. The audit also showed that numerous transactions between the affiliate companies had been carried out without due authorization. 
Cross said on the Aeromundo TV program that he does not understand what privatization was all about. He said that 95% of the investments to improve power distribution were made by the state, with Union Fenosa companies only responsible for 5%. He said the whole idea behind privatization was that the private companies would be more efficient in collecting for the service. But he said instead, three years later the companies are appealing to the government and creating artificial and opportunist crisis to pressure the government to come to their rescue. 
He said he does not understand the advantages of privatization when now the government has to intervene and consumers are charged much higher rates. 
Julio Cross also said that the power distributors had billed RD$90 million in excess. He said the companies admitted the “errors” and gave credits to consumers that had complained about the excess charges. 
Cross says that the root of the problem is that the power companies have not invested in the sector as their contracts warranted. He said that the government would be contracting an independent audit company to audit the operations of the power distributors.

AA to open Miami-Punta Cana
American Airlines announces starting 15 December it will open the Miami-Punta Cana route with one daily flight. The airline will be using a 757-200s on these flights. 
American also announces it is increasing the frequency of its Miami to Santiago route from one to two daily flights using 737-800 airplane. The New York to Santiago route will now be flown from 11 flights a week to two daily using A300-600R, and the and New York to Punta Cana route will go from four flights a week to one daily using a 757-200 airplane. This is to accommodate the winter season travel increases.

AA to open La Romana-JFK route
American Airlines plans to begin new nonstop service between New York’s JFK International Airport and La Romana, Dominican Republic on 21 December. "We’re providing flights to the places people want to fly," said Henry Joyner, American’s senior vice president, Planning, upon also announcing the Miami-Punta Cana flight. He explained that the new flights do not reflect growth for American, but rather a reallocation of existing resources to routes with more promising revenue potential.
La Romana becomes American’s fifth nonstop destination in the Dominican Republic from New York. The airline already offers service to Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Santiago and Santo Domingo. American will operate its new Saturday only nonstop service onboard a Boeing 757, which features seating for 22 first class and 154 coach passengers.
American’s flight schedule effective Dec. 21 is (all times local):
New York JFK to La Romana (Saturdays Only)
Flt# 249 Depart 8:15 a.m. Arrive 1:11 p.m.
La Romana to New York JFK (Saturdays Only)
Flt# 250 Depart 2:25 p.m. Arrive 5:17 p.m.

Pan Am back on 3 November
Pan Am announces it has rescheduled flights to the Dominican Republic for 3 November. Pan Am, which suspended its flights to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Santiago recently, announced it would operate the San Juan - Santo Domingo route daily using its Boeing 727-200 airplanes and with a US$172 fare. Pan Am flights will depart Santo Domingo at 5:15 pm arriving in San Juan at 6:15 pm. The San Juan-Santo Domingo flight will leave San Juan at 3 pm arriving to Santo Domingo at 4 pm. 
The airline also says that passengers interested in flying to Orlando, Florida can do so with a connecting flight in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This flight would be: Flight PN745/PN711 departing Santo Domingo at 5:15, arriving to Orlando/Sanford (SFB), Florida at 10:30 pm with a stopover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The return flight departs Orlando/Sanford at 11 am, arriving in San Domingo at 4 pm after a stopover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 
For more information, see http://www.flypanam.com

Great season for Dominican ball players
This was a season of almost, with Sammy Sosa almost making the 500 home run mark, and with Alfonso Soriano and Vladimir Guerrero almost making the 40-40 marks. But, still, sports writers say it was the most impressive season for Dominican ball players as a group ever, as reported in El Caribe. 
American League: 
Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox) was the leading batter in the American League with .349 average. 
Alfonso Soriano (New York Yankees) was the leader in hits 209, stolen bases 41 and 128 runs batted in. He also set a new record in times at bat in a season (696) for the New York Yankees, breaking a 1962 record. He ended the season with 300 points, only one home run under the coveted 40-40. He is the leading contender for the MVP award. 
Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers) was the leader in home runs (57), RBI (142) a batting average of .300 and 125 runs. Rodriguez is another contender for the MVP.
Miguel Tejada (Oakland Athletics) finished the regular season with a batting average of .308, 131 RBIs, 34 home runs, 203 hits and 109 runs. He also is credited as the man responsible for the A’s moving on past the regular season. Tejada also is a strong contender for the MVP. 
Pedro Martinez, leader in strikes 239, ERA 2.26 with 20 wins and 4 losses. He is a strong contender to the Cy Young award.
In the National League
Vladimir Gurerrero was the leader in hits (206), and ended the season with an impressive batting average of .336, 39 home runs, 40 bases stolen and 111 RBIs. 
Albert Pujols was key player with the St. Louis Cardinals, with 127 RBIs, 118 runs, 185 hits and a .314 batting average. 
Sammy Sosa, leader of home runs with 49, 122 runs and 108 RBIs with a batting average of .288. 
Bartolo Colon (Montreal Expos) ended the season with 20 wins and eight losses and a 2.93 ERA.
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